By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
CORVALLIS, Ore. -- Willamette University swimmers Derek Ludwig (So., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS), Ben Hedman (So., Davis, CA/Davis HS) and Cassie Tallman (Sr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) each advanced to the "A" finals on Saturday, Dec. 2 at the Oregon Senior Open, hosted the Corvallis Aquatic Team at the Osborn Aquatic Center. Hedman reached the final in the men's 400-yard individual medley, while Ludwig qualified in the men's 100-yard butterfly, and Tallman moved through in the women's 200-yard breaststroke.
Hedman placed fourth in the "A" final of the 400 I.M. in a personal record time of 4:12.88. Hedman also earned the fourth best time of the prelims at 4:14.99 on Saturday morning, and then swam more than two seconds faster in the championship final. His previous career-best time was 4:12.91 at the 2017 NWC Championships this past February.
In the men's 100-yard butterfly, Ludwig completed his preliminary heat in 52.70 seconds and ended the "A" final in seventh place with a time of 52.73 seconds. He was about 0.40 from his career top time of 52.30 seconds at the 2017 NWC Championships.
Tallman achieved the fifth-fastest time in WU history with a result of 2:26.24 in the prelims of the women's 200-yard breaststroke. She placed eighth in the "A" final in 2:28.53. Tallman holds Willamette's record of 2:23.16 in the 200 breaststroke, a time she set at the 2017 NWC Championships.
Ashlyn Witherwax (Sr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) just missed joining Tallman in the "A" final of the 200-yard breaststroke, as she earned the 10th fastest time of the prelims in 2:29.06. She finished 14th overall after completing the "B" final in 2:30.31.
Overall, WU had four swimmers who competed in the "B" finals on Saturday. In addition to Witherwax, other Bearcats in the "B" finals were Kiley Lin (Jr./So., Palo Alto, CA/Henry M. Gunn HS), Mark Yuvienco (Sr., San Jose, CA/Bellarmine College Prep) and Hedman.
Lin placed 10th overall in the women's 100-yard butterfly with a time of 59.46 seconds in the "B" final. Lin's time tied her career-best which she set at the 2016 NWC Championships. The time is fifth on Willamette's all-time list, and would have placed seventh in the "A" final on Saturday.
Yuvienco and Hedman both swam in the "B" final of the men's 100-yard butterfly. Yuvienco placed 13rd overall in 53.33 seconds. Hedman registered 15th place in the event with a time of 53.82 seconds.
Willamette placed eighth in the men's 400-yard freestyle relay and took 12th place in the women's 400-yard freestyle relay. In the men's race, Ludwig, Daniel Fang (Fr., Rancho Santa Margarita/Catholic HS), Jacob Hulti (So., Astoria, OR/Astoria HS) and Yuvienco combined for a time of 3:19.86. In the women's competition, Margo Coxon (Sr., Lake Forest Park, WA/Shorecrest HS), Jamie Johnson (Sr., Seattle, WA/Nathan Hale HS), Tallman, and Rachel Harvill (Jr., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS) were timed at 3:46.17.
"We had a total of 114 swims this weekend. Ninety-nine of those swims were season-best times," Willamette Head Coach Leslie Shevlin said. "The team achieved the goal the coaching staff had for them which was to prepare for the NWC meet in February. The swimmers achieved their goals and swam above and beyond their goal times.
"The team also achieved 40 lifetime-best times," Shevlin added. "Those came from across the board, freshmen to seniors. Achieving lifetime-best times at this point in the season is a positive indicator of where the rest of our season will go. I am so proud of how this team swam. We are looking forward to our winter training trip in San Diego, California. We will have the opportunity to race teams outside of our conference and to increase the amount of training that we have been doing."
The Oregon Senior Open was Willamette's final competition of the fall semester. The Bearcats will return to action in January.