FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – Whitworth University took a major step toward winning the 2018 Northwest Conference men's Swimming Championship with a dominating performance on Saturday night at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.
The Pirates won four of the seven men's events during the second day of the three-day meet and opened up a lead of 114 points over second place Linfield in the team standings. The current men's team scores are: Whitworth 465, Linfield 351, Whitman 311, Pacific Lutheran 306, Puget Sound 213, Lewis & Clark 210, Willamette 193, Pacific (Ore.) 113.
Owen Lempert and Patrick Wilber led the way for Whitworth. Each won an individual event and was also part of the winning 200-yard medley relay. Ryan Grady also won an individual event for the Pirates.
Wilber, Jake Davies, Eben Schumann and Lempert opened the men's meet with a winning time of 1:31.98 in the 200 medley relay, defeating the defending champion relay from Linfield by only five hundredths of a second.
Whitworth followed with big points in the 400-yard individual medley. Grady and Byron Rossmiller finished first and second in the race with Tyler Melsheimer taking sixth place. Grady won in 4:02.36 and Rossmiller followed in 4:04.68. Melsheimer's time of 4:16.28 gave the Pirates three swimmers among the top-six individuals and 50 points. In addition, Jake McCullough won the consolation final in 4:18.96 for nine more points.
The men's 100-yard butterfly was a rematch between the top two finishers from 2017. Schumann, Whitworth's defending champion, was edged out this season by Linfield's Noah Cutting, who was the runner up last year. Cutting won 48.64 – 49.14.
Whitman's Clark Sun won the 200-yard freestyle for the third year in a row with a time of 1:40.16. Keenan Robinson was sixth for the Pirates in 1:44.86 and Jacob Butler won the consolation final for ninth place with a time of 1:44.36.
Lempert then won his second individual event of these championships, taking the 100-yard breaststroke in 57.40. Davies finished eighth in 59.20, while Colin Lempert won the consolation final in 59.43 for ninth place. Owen Lempert had previously won the 50-yard freestyle on Friday night.
The Pirates had another dominating performance in the 100-yard backstroke. Wilber, who was co-champion last season, took the crown for himself this season with a winning time of 48.91. He had posted a new NWC record time of 48.88 last night leading off the men's 400-yard medley relay. Rossmiller closed out a great night by taking third place in 50.54, while Schuman showed great versatility with a fifth place finish in 51.21 giving the Bucs three of the top-five placers in the event. Whitworth scored 50 points in the finals of the 100 backstroke.
The Pirates closed out the night with a fourth place finish in the 800-yard freestyle Relay. Grady, Butler, Davies and Robinson posted a time of 7:01.95. Whitman outdueled Linfield to win the event in 6:55.61.
Whitworth's women are in fifth place heading into Sunday. The Pirates took fourth place in the 200-yard medley relay at the beginning of the meet, their highest relay finish of these championships so far. Hannah Galbraith, Jamie Siegler, Molly Vagt and Jane Holmes posted a time of 1:48.50. Whitman won the event in 1:46.06.
Galbraith had the Bucs' highest individual women's finish of the night. She took second place in the women's 100-yard backstroke with a time of 56.97, behind defending champion Mara Selznick of Whitman (56.31). It is the second year in a row that Selznick and Galbraith, both sophomores, finished 1-2 in this race.
Siegler posted a lifetime-best time (1:06.20) while finishing fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke. Kelli Callahan of Puget Sound won in 1:05.05.
Callahan also won the 400-yard individual medley with a new Northwest Conference record of 4:25.51. Olivia Cox finished in third place in 4:42.69. It was a dramatic improvement for Cox, who swam the same event in 2017 but did not make it out of the preliminary heats.
Vagt and Megan Thompson finished in fourth and seventh place, respectively, in the 200 freestyle. Vagt's time was 1:57.05 while Thompson went 1:57.56. Evette Dow of Linfield defended her title in that event with a time of 1:54.67.
Whitworth's women closed the meet by taking fifth place in the 800 freestyle relay. Vagt, Marissa Gibson, Cox and Thompson went 8:00.57. Whitman won the event in 7:44.65.
The women's team scores through Saturday are: Whitman 414, Pacific Lutheran 367.5, Puget Sound 319, Linfield 294, Whitworth 268.5, Lewis & Clark 218, Willamette 204, Pacific (Ore.) 99.
The meet concludes on Sunday. Whitworth's men are aiming to reclaim the NWC championship for the 15th time in the last 17 years.