Written by Mark Colachico, AthleticS Communications Writer
SALEM, Ore. - In a non-conference dual meet on Friday, Jan. 12, Willamette University took on NAIA member College of Idaho, with the Bearcats nearly upsetting the No. 8-ranked Yotes in the women's meet, before falling to C of I by a slim four-point margin, 127-123. In the men's meet, College of Idaho, ranked No. 7 in the latest NAIA Poll, defeated Willamette by the final score of 181-74.
On the women's side, the Bearcats posted enough second and third place finishes to offset the Lady Yotes' first place finishes en route to nearly pulling off the upset. Willamette posted 13 second place finishes and nine third place finishes, while the College of Idaho captured 11 of 14 events throughout the evening.
After seven events, the two teams were tied at 62 points apiece. Willamette took a narrow 108-106 lead after 12 events. Heading into the 14th and final event, the Bearcats held a slim one-point advantage over the Lady Yotes at 117-116. College of Idaho took home 11 points after winning the 200-yard freestyle relay, compared to Willamette's combined six points from second and third place in the event, as C of I won the dual meet by four points.
"We had a hard-fought battle with College of Idaho tonight," Willamette Head Coach Leslie Shevlin said. "The women swam their best meet so far this season and raced hard to the very last stroke. I really liked seeing the camaraderie. Also, each woman understood what she needed to do for her team before each race. The men had some great races and were finishing those races better than in the fall. College of Idaho is a very fast team, and I am proud of the men and how they competed one race at a time. This positive attitude and approach to racing will serve them well at the NWC meet."
C of I improved to 3-0 in men's swimming dual meets and to 2-4 in women's swimming duals. The Bearcats fell to 0-5 in men's swimming and to 0-5 in women's swimming.
The efforts of the Bearcats were highlighted with individual victories from Anna Burdine (Jr., Des Moines, WI/Mount Rainier HS) in the 1,000-yard freestyle, Cassie Tallman (Sr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) in the 100-yard breaststroke, and Niki Kates (So., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School) in the 200-yard backstroke.
In the women's 1,000-yard freestyle, Burdine outlasted her Bearcat teammate Britt Mitchell (Fr., Logan, UT/Logan HS) by just under 10 seconds posting a winning time of 11:53.05. Mitchell turned in a time of 12:02.48 to post her runner-up finish.
Tallman captured the women's 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:12.42, as she outlasted C of I's Abigail Schwarte, who placed second after recording a time of 1:15.10. Mitchell was third for Willamette in 1:17.19, while Burdine completed a 1-3-4 finish for the Bearcats in 1:19.88.
The final win for the Bearcats was earned by Kates when she took home a victory in the women's 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:20.35. She finished in front teammate Jensine Rasmussen (So., Tacoma, WA/Stadium HS, who was second at 2:25.76.
Rachel Harvill (Jr., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS) swam a strong race in the women's 50-yard freestyle. Deandre Small from College of Idaho won the race in 26.52 seconds, but Harvill was close behind her in second place at 26.79 seconds.
On the men's side, the College of Idaho won all 14 events. Two of Willamette's top performances came via Mark Yuvienco (Sr., San Jose, CA/Bellarmine College Prep) following a pair of runner-up finishes in the 100 and 200-yard butterfly events.
Yucienco posted a time of 1:59.10 for second place in the 200-yard butterfly, before finishing second with a time of 54.24 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly.
Willamette will return to the pool on Friday, J. 19 in a Northwest Conference dual meet against Lewis & Clark College beginning at 6:00 p.m. (PST) in Portland. The Bearcats will return home on Saturday, Jan. 20, when the Bearcats are set to host Pacific University starting at 1:00 p.m. at the WU Natatorium.