By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications, (503) 370-6110
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- The slimmest of margins separated Cassie Tallman (Jr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) of Willamette University from winning her first Northwest Conference title on the final day of the 2017 NWC Swimming Championships on Sunday, Feb. 12, as she took second place in the women's 200-yard breaststroke by 0.01 with a school record time of 2:23.16. Victoria Nguyenle from Pacific Lutheran University won the race in 2:23.15.
Tallman may not have won the NWC title, but she earned First Team All-NWC honors with her second place finish. During the course of Sunday's competition, she lowered her own Willamette record by well over two seconds. The record was 2:25.58 at the start of the day, but Tallman lowered it to 2:24.36 in the preliminary heats, and then took off more than another second in the championship final. She now has seven of Willamette's eight fastest times in the event.
The other time in the top eight belongs to Ashlyn Witherwax (Jr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School), who placed third in the championship final of the 200-yard breaststroke on Sunday. Her time of 2:24.35 is second on WU's all-time list behind Tallman's new record and just 0.01 in front of Tallman's time in the prelims.
Also competing for Willamette during the championship finals at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center on the final day of the meet were Niki Kates (Fr., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School) in the women's 200-yard backstroke, Alika Masei (Sr., Salem, OR/West Salem HS) in the men's 200-yard breaststroke, plus Mark Yuvienco (Jr., San Jose, CA/Bellarmine College Prep) and Ben Hedman (Fr., Davis, CA/Davis HS) in the men's 200-yard butterfly.
Kates finished in eighth place in the championship final of the women's 200-yard backstroke. She recorded a time of 2:10.03. Her time ranks seventh on Willamette's all-time list. Her time of 2:09.80 in the prelims is sixth all-time for the Bearcats.
In the men's 200-yard breaststroke championship race, Masei registered a time of 2:10.50 to take seventh place. He swam a 2:10.58 in the prelims. Both of his times set career bests, significantly lowering his previous top time.
Yuvienco earned First Team All-NWC recognition and placed third in the men's 200-yard butterfly with a school record time of 1:53.46 in the championship final. His time of 1:53.60 in the prelims, also lowered his own previous school record of 1:53.86, set in 2015. Noah Cutting from Linfield College won this year's NWC 200 butterfly title with a time of 1:49.97.
Hedman placed eighth in the men's 200 butterfly in 1:57.09. He was just 0.29 out of seventh place.
In addition, several Bearcats swam in the 1,650-yard freestyle events, which included multiple heats with swimmers competing against the clock.
Anna Burdine (So., Seattle, WA/Mount Rainier HS) of Willamette took 11th place in the women's 1,650 freestyle with a time of 18:45.22. Kate Harvey (Jr., Atlantic Beach, FL/Duncan Fletcher HS) added a 14th place finish in the event, as she completed her heat in 19:01.19.
In the men's 1,650 freestyle, Willamette's Shelby Merrill (Sr., Thousand Oaks, CA/Westlake HS) placed 10th in 16:51.53. He was just 12 seconds out of ninth place. Merrill's time ranks fifth on WU's all-time list. Colin Hakeman (Fr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) earned 13th place for the Bearcats in 16:58.73.
An additional four Bearcats participated in the consolation finals on Sunday.
Jensine Rasmussen (Fr., Tacoma, WA/Stadium HS) placed 14th overall in the women's 200-yard backstroke. Her time in the consolation final was 2:14.96.
In the women's 100-yard freestylem Rachel Harvill (So., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS) took 16th place after registering a time of 54.98 in the consolation final. She was just 0.04 away from tying for 15th.
Jason Bayang (Sr., Wahiawa, HI/Hoala School) earned 14th place in the men's 200-yard breaststroke. During the consolation final, he touched out in 2:12.356, as he missed 13th place by just 0.04.
Derek Ludwig (Fr., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS) placed 11th overall in the men's 200-yard butterfly. He was third in the consolation final in 1:57.65.
Final Team Standings
Whitman College won the NWC championships in both men's and women's swimming.
The Blues topped the men's standings with 547 points. Pacific Lutheran University was just 14 points off the pace in second at 533. Whitworth University was close behind PLU, as the Pirates took third with 529 points. Linfield College was fourth at 464.5, while University of Puget Sound placed fifth at 378.5. Willamette was sixth at 265, while Lewis & Clark College took seventh at 212 and Pacific University was eighth with 189 points.
Whitman led the women's team scores with 622 points. Pacific Lutheran followed in second place with 576 points. Puget Sound held third place at 458, with Linfield in fourth at 444.5, Whitworth in fifth at 378, Lewis & Clark in sixth at 297 and Willamette in seventh at 239. Pacific finished in eighth at 180 points.