Bearcat Women Rally in Final Event to Stun Linfield, 102-101

Women's Swimming Moment of the Year

By Brandon Chinn, Student Assistant Athletics Communications Director

SALEM, ORE. -- Over the course of a sporting season, every team will inevitably endure its share of ups and downs. Generally, most teams will even produce multiple moments of greatness.

But in sports, there are moments of greatness, and then there are miraculous moments that just simply can't be forgotten.

This was the case on Jan. 25, 2014, at the WU Natatorium, when the Willamette University women's swimming team defied the odds to stun Linfield College with a 102-101 comeback victory.

Trailing Linfield 97-89 entering the final event of the day -- the 400-yard freestyle relay -- the Bearcats were very clear about what needed to be done.

"Before we started the race our coach had talked to both relays and she told us that if we got first and third we'd win by one point," sophomore Lindsay Clark (Juneau, AK/Juneau-Douglas HS) told the Bearcat Network at the conclusion of the race. "That was a huge motivation for us."

Fifth-year head coach Leslie Shevlin sent two relay teams into the water for the 400-yard freestyle. The first team consisted of Hope Nelson (Jr., Providence, RI/South Kingstown HS), Michaela Zuber (So., Sacramento, CA/Sheldon HS), Christa Rohrbach (So., Concord, CA/Clayton Valley HS) and Clark.

The "B" relay team featured Kersey Bars (Jr., Springfield, OR/Springfield HS), Jessica Beach (So., Salem, OR/West Salem HS), Emily DiNatale (Fr., Boulder, CO/Peak to Peak Charter School), and Cara Jack (So., Redwood City, CA/Woodside HS).

Willamette's primary team took the early lead through the first two legs of the race. Linfield, however, battled back to capture a marginal lead going into the stretch run.

After diving into the pool, Clark, the Bearcat anchor, began to quickly make up the necessary ground. She obtained the lead once and for all with about 50 yards to go, speeding to the finish for the victory. "I just put my head down and swam as fast as I could to the end," Clark said.

Willamette won with a time of 3:50.52. Linfield placed second at 3:51.80.

The "B" relay team finished comfortably in third place, putting Willamette on top, 102-101.

For the Bearcats, this rally achieved the victory over Linfield and also provided the unit with some added momentum heading into the Northwest Conference Championships. It also represented something more.

The come-from-behind, last second victory over an archrival served as an unforgettable moment for Bearcat Athletics in 2013-14.

Lindsay Clark swam the anchor leg on Willamette's winning 400-yard freestyle relay against Linfield.

Lindsay Clark swam the anchor leg on Willamette's winning 400-yard freestyle relay against Linfield.