By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Ashlyn Witherwax (Sr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) set the school record twice in the women's 100-yard breaststroke, Kiley Lin (Jr./So., Palo Alto, CA/Henry M. Gunn HS) set a record in the women's 100-yard butterfly, and Ben Hedman (So., Davis, CA/Davis HS) placed third in the men's 400-yard individual medley, to highlight Willamette University's efforts at the 2018 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships on Saturday, Feb. 10.
During Saturday's prelims, eight Bearcats earned nine spots in the championship finals on Saturday night. An additional four Bearcats competed in the consolation finals on Saturday. Action in the three-day meet at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center will conclude on Sunday, Feb. 11. Prelims will be start at 10 a.m. (PST). Finals are scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.
Witherwax broke her own school record in the 100-yard breaststroke in the prelims, setting the new mark at 1:06.68. The previous record of 1:06.94 was set by Witherwax at last year's NWC Championships. In Saturday's championship final, Witherwax lowered the new record by completing the race in 1:06.65. She placed seventh in the final. Teammate Cassie Tallman (Sr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) finished eighth in the championship final in 1:07.66.
Lin broke the Willamette record of 58.91 seconds in the 100-yard butterfly set by Malia Santos ('16) at the 2016 NWC Championships. In the preliminary heats on Saturday, Lin registered a time of 58.81 seconds to lower the record by 0.10. Lin added a time of 59.06 seconds in the championship final later in the day, as she took seventh place. Her time in the final is the fourth fastest time on Willamette's list in the 100 butterfly.
On Saturday, Lin also reached the championship final in the women's 100-yard backstroke. She was joined in the final by fellow WU swimmer Niki Kates (So., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School). Lin placed seventh in the final in 59.62 seconds, while Kates was eighth in 1:00.27. Lin's time of 59.34 in the prelims ranks fourth on WU's list (she is the record holder at 57.88 in 2016), while the time recorded by Kates in the prelims at 59.73 is fifth all-time for the Bearcats.
Hedman placed third in the championship final of the men's 400-yard individual medley in 4:10.06. He was followed closely by Colin Hakeman (So., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) of Willamette, who finished fourth in 4:13.76.
The time by Hedman ranks fourth in the history of Willamette swimming. Previously the top five times were all set by Brady Childs in 2000.
Also competing in the championship finals for the Bearcats on Saturday were Ben Fritz (Fr., Los Gatos, CA/Leigh HS) in the men's 200-yard freestyle and Derek Ludwig (So., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS) in the men's 100-yard butterfly.
Fritz earned fourth place in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:43.42. He missed third place by just 0.37. The time by Fritz ranks second all-time at Willamette, trailing only Danny James, who set the school record of 1:42.65 in 1992.
Ludwig completed the 100 butterfly in 51.96 seconds to place seventh in the event. His time of 51.73 in the prelims is tied for third on the Bearcats' all-time list.
Willamette athletes who participated in Saturday's consolation finals were Mark Yuvienco (Sr., San Jose, CA/Bellarmine College Prep), Anna Burdine (Jr., Seattle, WA/Mount Rainier HS), Daniel Fang (Fr., Rancho Santa Margarita/Catholic HS), and Kate Harvey (Sr., Atlantic Beach, FL/Duncan Fletcher HS).
Yuvienco won the consolation final in the men's 100-yard butterfly in 51.79 seconds to finish ninth overall. His time ranks fifth in the history of WU swimming and would have been fifth in the "A" final on Saturday. Yuvienco's time of 51.95 seconds missed qualifying him for the championship final by 0.07.
Burdine was 11th overall in the women's 400-yard individual medley. Her time was a personal record at 4:51.43. Fang placed 11th in the men's 200-yard freestyle in 1:45.28, as he also established a personal record.
Harvey finished the women's 200-yard freestyle in 15th place. She registered a career-best time of 2:01.81 in the consolation final, after also earning a personal best in the prelims at 2:02.18.
Willamette's entry in the men's 800-yard freestyle relay placed fifth in 7:04.73. Swimming for the Bearcats during the relay were Fritz, Fang, Yuvienco and Ludwig. Their combined time was just 1.63 seconds away from the school record set in 1992.
In the women's 200-yard medley relay, the Bearcats attained the second-fastest time in school history at 1:49.97 while taking sixth place. Competing for Willamette were Kates, Witherwax, Lin and Harvill. The school record of 1:49.35 was set by Lin, Tallman, Santos and Michaela Zuber ('16) in 2016.