SPOKANE, Wash. – The Whitworth women's and men's swimming teams head into this week's Northwest Conference Championships with different outlooks, but the same goal – a conference team title. The meet will run from Thursday through Sunday at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Washington.
Click here for the official NWC Championships website with links to schedules, results and video streams. The meet will take place over four days with finals in the 200-yard medley relay and 800-yard freestyle relay going on Thursday night. Preliminary heats will begin on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at 10:00 am each morning. Finals for those events will start at 6:00 pm on Friday and Saturday and 5:00 pm on Sunday.
Whitworth's men are heavy favorites to defend the Northwest Conference title they won by nearly 180 points last winter. The Pirate women head into a five-way dogfight looking to claim their first league championship since 2013.
After rolling through the NWC dual meet schedule with a perfect 8-0 record, Whitworth's men are primed to reclaim the conference crown for the 16th time in the last 18 years. Pirate swimmers are seeded first in nine individual events and are the top seeds in four of the five relays. Linfield, Pacific Lutheran and Whitman will jockey to see which of the three will push the Bucs the hardest through the weekend.
Ryan Grady, the 2018 NWC Freshman of the Year, has the fastest entry time in four individual events – the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststrokes, the 400-yard individual medley and the 500-yard freestyle. He is defending champion in the 400 I.M. and the 200 breaststroke. Grady can only swim in three individual events, so he will have to choose which race to drop from his schedule.
Byron Rossmiller is the meet's top-seed in both the 100-yard and 200-yard backstroke races. He is seeded second to Grady in the 400 I.M. Eben Schumann has the meet's top-mark in the 100-yard butterfly, an event he won in 2016 and 20017. Finn McClone is the best seed in the 200-yard freestyle and Logan Todd tops the 200-yard butterfly. McClone and Todd are also seeded highly in the 500 freestyle.
Jake Davies has the meet's second-fastest seed times in the 200-yard individual medley and the 200 breaststroke. Owen Lempert, the defending NWC champion in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard breaststroke, is seeded second and third, respectively, in those two events. He is also the second seed in the 100-yard freestyle.
The Pirates have the meet's best seed times in the 200-yard and 400-yard medley relays, as well as the 400-yard and 800-yard freestyle relays.
The women's meet could be the most wide-open team competition in the history of the Northwest Conference. Based on dual meet results and seed times, five schools head into this week's meet with a legitimate hope of winning the league championship. Whitman is the two-time defending champion, Pacific Lutheran had the NWC's best dual meet record at 7-1 this season, while Whitworth, Linfield and Puget Sound all claim key advantages in certain events.
A pair of returning scorers will set the tone for Whitworth's women. Hannah Galbraith is the defending champion in the 200-yard backstroke and was runner up in the 100 backstroke last year. She is the meet's top seed in both races in 2019. Jamie Siegler was runner-up in the 200 breaststroke in 2018 and has the meet's best seed time in the 100 breaststroke this season. She is seeded second in the 200 breaststroke.
A pair of freshmen are seeded highly in each of their individual events as well. Cameron Lyon is lists among the top four swimmers in the 500 freestyle, 1,650-yard freestyle and 200 butterfly. Likewise, Eve Vetter ranks among the top four in the 200 I.M., 400 I.M. and 100 backstroke.
Isabella Hackney (3rd – 200 freestyle), Molly Vagt (5th – 500 freestyle), Marissa Gibson (6th – 500 freestyle and 1,650 freestyle), Emma Boles (6th – 200 I.M.), Olivia Cox (7th – 200 backstroke) and Jessica Defiesta (8th – 500 freestyle and 1,650 freestyle) are all seeded with a chance to score among the championship finalists in at least one of their respective events.
The Pirate women have the meet's best entry time in the 200 freestyle relay while holding the second-best marks in the 200 and 400 medley relays and the 800 free relay.
Whitworth's women are coming off back-to-back fifth place finishes at the 2017 and 2018 NWC Championships. The Pirates' most recent NWC crown came in 2013.