By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Ben Hedman (Fr., Davis, CA/Davis HS) and Cassie Tallman (Jr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) led the way with fourth place finishes, as six Willamette University swimmers competed in the championship finals on the second day of the 2017 Northwest Conference Championship on Saturday, Feb. 11 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center. Hedman placed fourth in the men's 400-yard individual medley, while Tallman took fourth in the women's 100-yard breaststroke.
Also competing in the championship finals were Mark Yuvienco (Jr., San Jose, CA/Bellarmine College Prep) in the men's 100-yard butterfly, Reuben White (Sr./Jr., Portland, OR/Westview HS) in the men's 200-yard freestyle, Niki Kates (Fr., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School) in the women's 100-yard backstroke, and Jason Bayang (Sr., Wahiawa, HI/Hoala School) in the men's 100-yard backstroke.
Hedman's time in the men's 400-yard individual medley was 4:12.91, as he cut more than one second from his time of 4:13.98 in the preliminary heats. Cole Weinstein of Whitman College won the championship final in the 400 I.M. with a time of 3:58.64 that set an NWC Championships record.
Tallman completed the women's 100-yard breaststroke in 1:07.15 for the fourth fastest time in Willamette history. Her time of 1:07.11 in the prelims ranks third all-time for the Bearcats.
Danielle Booth of Pacific Lutheran University won the women's 100-yard breaststroke title on Saturday with a time of 1:05.09. Victoria Nguyenle of PLU was second at 1:06.42 and Nina Dipboye of Whitman was third at 1:06.78, just 0.37 in front of Tallman.
Ashlyn Witherwax (Jr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) broke Willamette's 100-yard breaststroke record in this year's consolation final with a time of 1:06.94. She won the consolation race and finished ninth overall. Tallman previously held the school record of 1:07.02, set at last year's NWC meet.
In the men's 100-yard butterfly, Yuvienco claimed sixth place in 51.54 seconds. It was the second fastest 100 fly every by a Willamette swimmer, as Yuvienco narrowly missed the record of 51.43 seconds, set by Steve Koga in 1979.
Three of Willamette's championship finalists each took seventh place in their respective events. White was seventh in the men's 200-yard freestyle in 1:47.27. Kates placed seventh in the women's 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:00.14. Bayang finished seventh in the men's 100-yard backstroke in 53.90 seconds.
In addition to Witherwax, four other Bearcats were competitors in the consolation finals on Saturday evening.
Derek Ludwig (Fr., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS) achieved 10th place in the men's 100-yard butterfly after taking second in the consolation final in 52.30 seconds.
In the men's 100-yard breaststroke, Alika Masei (Sr., Salem, OR/West Salem HS) placed 12th overall. He was timed at 1:00.02 in the consolation final.
Josh Bumgarner (Sr., Walla Walla, WA/Walla Walla HS) placed 13th overall after earning a time of 4:22.62 in the consolation final of the men's 400-yard individual medley.
The women's consolation final in the 100-yard backstroke included Jensine Rasmussen (Fr., Tacoma, WA/Stadium HS), who placed 16th overall in 1:02.66.
Whitman topped the women's team standings after two days with a total of 432.5 points. Pacific Lutheran was second at 400 points, while Linfield College held third place at 312.5. University of Puget Sound followed in fourth place at 299, with Whitworth University in fifth at 235, Lewis & Clark College in sixth at 208, Willamette in seventh at 155, and Pacific University in eighth at 142.
In the men's competition, Whitman was first with 362 points, and Pacific Lutheran was second just 13 points out of the lead at 349. Whitworth owned third place at 337, with Linfield following closely in fourth place at 333.5. Puget Sound was fifth with 245.5 points, Willamette was sixth at 182, Lewis & Clark held seventh at 158, and Pacific was eighth at 140.
The 2017 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships will conclude on Sunday, Feb. 12. Preliminary heats will begin at 9 a.m. (PST). Consolation finals and championship finals will start at 5 p.m.