By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Ben Hedman (So., Davis, CA/Davis HS) placed second in the 200-yard butterfly, and four of his Willamette University teammates placed fourth in their respective events, during the final session of the 2018 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships on Sunday, Feb. 11 at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center. Hedman's time in the championship final of the 200-yard butterfly was 1:54.13.
Hedman led a 2-4-8 finish for the Bearcats. He ended the race strong, moving up from fourth place at the start of the final 100 yards. Mark Yuvienco (Sr., San Jose, CA/Bellarmine College Prep) held second place for much of the race and finished fourth in 1:55.20. Derek Ludwig (So., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS), who tied for eighth in the prelims Sunday morning and had to win a swim-off to reach the "A" final, took eighth place in 2:01.21. Noah Cutting won the championship final in an NCAA "B" qualifying time of 1:48.86.
During the prelims of the 200 butterfly earlier in the day, Hedman registered the fourth-fastest time ever by a Bearcat at 1:54.02. His time in the championship final ranks fifth overall.
In addition to Yuvienco, other Bearcats who placed fourth on Sunday were Ben Fritz (Fr., Los Gatos, CA/Leigh HS) in the men's 1,650-yard freestyle, Cassie Tallman (Sr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS) in the women's 200-yard breaststroke, and Kiley Lin (Jr./So., Palo Alto, CA/Henry M. Gunn HS) in the women's 200-yard butterfly.
Including the 1,650-yard freestyle events, in which swimmers competed in heats against time, there were 15 Bearcats who scored points on Sunday. Nine Bearcats earned top 8 finishes, while an additional six Willamette athletes finished from ninth place through 16th place in their respective events.
Fritz achieved a school record time of 16:30.97 in the early heats of the men's 1,650-yard freestyle at the end of the morning session. He had the fastest time in those early heats. The final heat of the 1,650 freestyle, which featured athletes with the top eight seed times, was held at the start of the evening session. When the various heats were combined, Fritz placed fourth overall. The previous Willamette record in the men's 1,650 was 16:40.34, set 30 years ago by John Blatt in 1987.
Also in the men's 1,650 freestyle, Colin Hakeman (So., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) of Willamette placed seventh overall. His time in the final heat was 16:55.07. It was a personal record time for Hakeman and placed him eighth on WU's all-time list.
Tallman placed fourth in the women's 200-yard breaststroke at 2:25.01. It was fourth-fastest time in school history. During her Willamette career, Tallman placed in the top four of the women's 200 breaststroke all four years at the NWC Championships, including second place in both 2016 and 2017, and third place in 2015. She set the WU record at least year's NWC Championshps in 2:23.16.
On Sunday, teammate Ashlyn Witherwax (Sr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) earned fifth place in the women's 200-yard breaststroke in 2:26.42. Her time ranks eighth on Willamette's all-time list. Witherwax qualified for the championship final in the women's 200 breaststroke during each of her four seasons at Willamette. She placed third in 2017, sixth in 2016 and eighth in 2015.
Lin was fourth in the women's 200-yard butterfly. Her time in the championship final was a personal record of 2:12.88, which ranks fifth all-time at Willamette. It is the first new time in the top five for the Bearcats in the 200 butterfly since 1996.
Niki Kates (So., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School) placed sixth for the Bearcats in the women's 200-yard backstroke at 2:09.15. Both of her swims on Sunday were among the fastest in school history, with her time of 2:08.28 in the prelims ranking fourth and her time in the final ranking seventh.
Three Willamette swimmers registered times in the top 16 in the women's 1,650-yard freestyle. Anna Burdine (Jr., Seattle, WA/Mount Rainier HS) was 12th overall in 18:53.95. Kate Harvey (Sr., Atlantic Beach, FL/Duncan Fletcher HS) was 14th in 19:10.51, and Britt Mitchell (Fr., Logan UT/Logan HS) was 16th in 19:32.00. All three competed in the early heats of the event.
Swimmers competing for the Bearcats in the consolation finals on Sunday were Mykah Fujiwara (Jr., Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School), Jensine Rasmussen (So., Tacoma, WA/Stadium HS) and Daniel Fang (Fr., Rancho Santa Margarita/Catholic HS).
Fujiwara was fourth in the consolation final and 13th overall in the men's 200-yard breaststroke with a personal record time of 2:13.89. Rasmussen finished 14th overall in the women's 200-yard backstroke in 2:15.74. Fang placed 16th in the men's 100-yard freestyle in 49.41 seconds. He set a personal record with a time of 48.96 seconds in the prelims.
The Bearcats took fourth place in the men's 400-yard freestyle relay in the final event of the competition. Fritz, Fang, Ludwig and Yuvienco was timed at 3:12.49, as the relay team reduced their season-best time by 7.69 seconds.
Final Team Standings
Whitman College won the women's team championship with 614.5 points. Pacific Lutheran University was second at 551.5, with University of Puget Sound in third at 457. Linfield College placed fourth at 441, while Whitworth University was fifth at 396.5. Lewis & Clark College took sixth at 302.5, narrowly edging out Willamette, as the Bearcats placed seventh at 297. Pacific University was eighth with 135 points.
The men's team title went to Whitworth, which scored 665.5 points. Whitman finished second at 489 and Linfield was third at 460.5. Pacific Lutheran followed in fourth at 448. Puget Sound was fifth at 323. Lewis & Clark held off Willamette for sixth place at 302, with the Bearcats in seventh at 299. Pacific was eighth at 164 points.