Bearcat Women Edge Linfield 102-101, while Willamette Men Win 119-69

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

SALEM, ORE. -- The Willamette University women's swimming team rallied in the final event to defeat Linfield College 102-101 in Northwest Conference action, while the Bearcat men's team outscored the Wildcats 119-69, on Senior Day at the WU Natatorium on Saturday, Jan. 25.

In the women's competition, Willamette trailed 97-89 entering the final event -- the 400-yard freestyle relay. The Bearcats took first place and third place in the relay to win the meet by a single point. WU ended the dual meet season at 1-8 overall, 1-6 in the NWC, while Linfield fell to 0-7, all in the NWC.

Willamette's men won 119-69 as they registered their third consecutive dual meet victory to finish 3-4 in the Northwest Conference and 3-5-1 overall. Linfield's men finished 0-7 overall, 0-7 in the NWC.

The Bearcats went 3-0 in NWC action against the other Oregon members of the conference (Linfield, Pacific, Lewis & Clark) and were 3-0-1 overall against those teams, including a non-conference tie with Pacific).

Thrilling Finish for Willamette Women's Team

Lindsay Clark (So., Juneau, AK/Juneau-Douglas HS) swam the anchor leg for Willamette in the 400-yard freestyle relay. When she entered the pool, Linfield held a slim lead.

Clark pulled even in the first 25 yards, and eventually gained a slight edge for the Bearcats as the race entered the final 50 yards. She held the lead to the end of the race. Willamette won in 3:50.52, while Linfield took second in 3:51.80. The "B" relay for WU earned third place to provide the Bearcats with enough points to register the victory.

Swimming the first three legs for WU's winning 400 free relay team were Hope Nelson (Jr., Providence, RI/South Kingstown HS), Michaela Zuber (So., Sacramento, CA/Sheldon HS) and Christa Rohrbach (So., Concord, CA/Clayton Valley HS). Swimming for Linfield's top relay were Nikki Overton, Elizabeth Fry, Rita Cohen and Tori Nickerson. Linfield's "B" relay took fourth.

In addition to closing out the 400 free relay, Clark of Willamette also swam the anchor leg in the 400-yard medley relay for a win at the start of the meet. She combined with Zuber, Erin Parkinson (Sr., Everson, WA/Ferndale HS), and Malia Santos (So., Kailua-Kona, HI/Kealakehe HS) to record a time of 4:20.06.

Overall, the WU women's team won five events. Individual wins were by Santos in the 50-yard freestyle and the 200-yard butterfly, and by Nelson in the 100-yard freestyle. 

Santos was victorious in the 50 free in 26.50 seconds. She led a 1-2-4 finish by Willamette, with Summer Elias (Jr., Elko, NV/Elko HS) taking second in 27.59 seconds and Jessica Beach (So., Salem, OR/West Salem HS) placing fourth in 28:40. In the 200 butterfly, Santos was first in 2:27.92.

Nelson won the 100 freestyle in 56.73 seconds. Parkinson was second in 58.49 seconds.

Two swimmers each won two events for Linfield. Maggie May led a 1-2 finish for the Wildcats in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:20.30. She also won the 200-yard backstroke in 2:17.91, as she held off Zuber of Willamette. Zuber set a personal record in 2:19.40.

Overton also claimed first place twice for the Wildcats. She won the 200-yard freestyle in 2:01.92, finishing 0.68 in front of Nelson of Willamette, who was second with a season-best 2:02.60. Overton added a win in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:32.71 to lead a 1-2-3 finish for Linfield.

Bearcat Men's Team Cruises to Victory

The Bearcats took first place in seven events in the men's competition to win by 50 points. Alika Masei (Fr., Salem, OR/West Salem HS) prevailed the 200-yard individual medley in 2:01.54 and placed first in the 200-yard backstroke in 2:00.17. He won by 9.18 seconds in the individual medley and by 12.93 seconds in the 200 back.

WU earned a 1-2-3 result in the men's 50-yard freestyle. Alex Guffey (So., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) was first in 22.89 seconds. Ian Robinson Fr., Portland, OR/La Salle Catholic) was second in 24.75 seconds and Nick Barton (So., Oregon City, OR/Clackamas HS) was third in 24.88.

Also winning events for the Willamette men's team were Shelby Merrill (Fr., Thousand Oaks, CA/Westlake HS), Andrew Lum (So., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) and Josh Bumgarner (Fr., Walla Walla, WA (Walla Walla HS). 

Merrill won the 1,000-yard freestyle in 10:40.16. Lum placed first in the 200-yard butterfly in 2:10.08 and Bumgarner led a 1-2 finish in the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:23.85. Chris Whitehead (Sr., Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) was second in the 200 breaststroke at 2:25.12.

Willamette finished in front of Linfield in the men's 400-yard medley relay. Masei swam the first leg and was followed by Whitehead, Lum and Zander Le Bel (Jr., Dallas, TX/Richardson HS) for a time of 3:51.02. WU also had the fastest time in the 400-yard freestyle relay (3:27.54), but swam exhibition due to the Bearcats' overall lead.

For Linfield, Leland Rivers won two events. He placed first in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:52.02, winning by 6.65 seconds. He also took first in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:05.90 with a margin of 7.06 seconds.

Ian White of Linfield was first in the 100-yard freestyle. He was clocked at 49.61 seconds, as he narrowly held off Guffey, who placed second for Willamette in 49.90.

Personal Records for Six Bearcats

Zuber's personal record in the 200 back was one of six such marks set by the Bearcats during the meet.

Also recording career-best times for the WU women's team were Leah Freeborn (So., Federal Way, WA/Todd Beamer HS) in the 200-yard butterfly, Michaelyn Laughlin (Fr., San Jose, CA/Leland HS) in the 200-yard individual medley, and Kersey Bars (Jr., Springfield, OR/Springfield HS) in the 500-yard freestyle.

New personal bests for the Bearcat men were set by Lum as the lead swimmer in the 400-yard free relay and by Jason Bayang (Fr., Wahiawa, HI/Hoala School) in the 200-yard freestyle.

Willamette and Linfield will compete at the NWC Championships in Federal Way, Wash., from Feb. 14 through Feb. 16. The meet will be held at the King County Aquatic Center.

NOTE:  Prior to the meet, Willamette honored its six seniors:  Women's Team - Susie Barnes , Lindsay Clark (So. eligibility), Hope Nelson (Jr., eligibility) and Erin Parkinson; Men's Team - Nick Barton (So. eligibility) and Chris Whitehead.


Willamette University 119
Linfield College 69

Willamette University 102
Linfield College 101

Post-Meet Interviews

Lindsay Clark swam the anchor leg in both relays, leading the Willamette women to wins in the 400-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Lindsay Clark swam the anchor leg in both relays, leading the Willamette women to wins in the 400-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay.

Alika Masei won the 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard backstroke for the Willamette men's team.

Alika Masei won the 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard backstroke for the Willamette men's team.