Bearcats Win Nine of 16 Events on First Day of 2018 Bruin Invitational

Ben Fritz (So., Los Gatos, CA/Leigh HS)
Ben Fritz (So., Los Gatos, CA/Leigh HS)

By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications

NEWBERG, Ore. -- Willamette University swimmers won nine of 16 events on the first day of the 2018 Bruin Invitational, hosted by George Fox University at the Chehalem Aquatic Center on Saturday, Dec. 1. The Bearcats won three of four relay events, plus six of 12 individual events.

The meet will conclude on Sunday, Dec. 2, with preliminary heats set for 10 a.m. (PST) and finals scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Finals in the men's and women's 1,650-yard freestyle events will be held at the conclusion of the preliminary heats.

Ben Fritz (So., Los Gatos, CA/Leigh HS) swam on two winning relay teams for the Bearcats and took first place in the men's 500-yard freestyle. Ben Hedman (Jr., Davis, CA/Davis HS) helped WU place first in the men's 400-yard medley relay and won two events, as he placed first in the 200-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard individual medley.

Niki Kates (Jr., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School) of Willamette won the women's 200-yard individual medley and contributed to the Bearcat women's team gaining earning a victory in the 400-yard medley relay.

Other individual event winners for the Bearcats were Derek Ludwig (Jr., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS) in the men's 100-yard butterfly and Anna Burdine (Sr., Seattle, WA/Mount Rainier HS) in the women's 500-yard freestyle. Willamette also won the men's 200-yard freestyle relay.

"The first day of the Bruin Invite went very well for us," Willamette Head Coach Brent Summers said. "We swam great in prelims and earned many second swims in finals."

Perhaps the most difficult part for the swimmers was participating in competitive races in multiple events twice on the same day. They'll face a similar schedule on Sunday.

"It is very tough to swim fast in the morning and to come back and swim faster after prelims," Summers commented. "I've very happy, and excited for tomorrow, with how well the men and women swam this evening at finals. We had some quality event wins in both the relay and individual events. In addition to those wins, we had many personal best times and almost every swim was a season best time."

Top Willamette Men's Results

Fritz swam the first leg in the 200-yard freestyle relay. He was followed by Keaton Adams (Fr., Colorado Springs, CO/Doherty HS), Jacob Hulti (Jr., Astoria, OR/Astoria HS) and Evan Segimoto (So., Alamo, CA/The Athenian School). The Bearcats won the race in 1:30.70, with George Fox in second place at 1:32.37.

In the 400-yard medley relay, Fritz swam the anchor leg, completing the race after the efforts of Ludwig, Mykah Fujiwara (Sr., Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School) and Hedman. Willamette's winning time was 3:44.78. The Willamete "B" team of Brendan Otani (So., Kahului, HI/Kamehameha School), Owen Davis (Sr., Boulder, CO/Boulder HS), Daniel Fang (So., Rancho Santa Margarita, CA/Catholic HS) and Hulti placed second in 3:58.70.

Fritz prevailed in the 500-yard freestyle, as he led a 1-2-3-4 finish for the Bearcats. He won the race in 4:59.21, and was closely followed by Colin Hakeman (Jr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) in second place at 5:01.28. Robert Daugherty (Fr., Reno, NV/Damonte Ranch HS) continued Willamette's sweep in third place at 5:15.41, with Alexander Hougan (Jr., Olympia, WA/Olympia HS) in fourth place at 5:17.85.

Hedman's winning time in the 200-yard breaststroke was 2:16.24. He edged out Fujiwara, who took second in 2:16.88. All four swimmers in the race were from Willamette. Hedman registered a time of 1:59.97. he led a 1-2-3 sweep that included Ludwig in second at 2:03.96 and Fujiwara in third at 2:09.92. The race featured a total of seven swimmers.

Also for Willamette, Ludwig took first place in the 100-yard butterfly. His winning time was 52.42, as he led a 1-2 finish, with Fang in second place at 55.15. Zach Johnson of GFU was third at 57:24.

Top Willamette Women's Results

The 200-yard individual medley included eight swimmers in the championship final and seven swimmers in the consolation final. Kates won the championship race in 2:14.72 for a margin of victory of 5.50 seconds. Hannah Brandow from Pacific University was second in 2:20.22.

Burdine of WU provided the Bearcats with a win in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:29.45. Grace Ferguson from George Fox was second in 5:40.90.

Kates swam the first left to help Willamette finish first in the 400-yard medley relay. Kates, Min Wei (Fr., Fushun, China/Cascade HS), Kiley Lin (Sr./Jr., Palo Alto, CA/Henry M. Gunn HS) and Rachel Harvill (Sr., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS) registered a time of 4:10.22 to win by 8.75 seconds over Pacific.

The Willamette 200-yard freestyle relay team finished a close second to George Fox in the first final race of the day. The Bruins registered a time of 1:43.08 to win the race, while the Bearcats were 1.33 back at 1:44.41. Swimming for WU on the relay team were Wei, Lin, Claire Johnson (So., Deerfield, IL/Deerfield HS) and Harvill.

Wei placed second in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:37.55. Maya Okamura won the race in 2:34.27.

Lin was second in the 200-yard backstroke in 2:15.91. She touched out just before Morgan Leishman of Mills College (Calif.), who placed third in 2:15.93. Hannah Brandow of Pacific won the 200 backstroke in 2:09.89. Lin also placed third in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:01.20, missing second place by just 0.05. Brandow was first in 59.84 seconds and Olivia Gibson of GFU was second in 1:01.15.

Team Standings

Willamette held a slim lead in the women's team standings at the end of the first day. The Bearcats scored 392 points for a 13-point lead on George Fox, which held second place at 379. Pacific was third at 319 and Mills was fourth at 149.

In the men's standings, Willamette owned a commanding lead with 518 points. George Fox was second at 222 and Pacific was third at 151.

The Bearcats topped the combined standings with 910 points, while George Fox was second at 601 and Pacific held third place at 470. Mills, which competes only in women's athletics, was fourth at 149.

Niki Kates (Jr., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School)

Big Moment of the Day for Willamette

Niki Kates took first place in the women's 200-yard
individual medley with a time of 2:14.72, as she won
the race by 5.50 seconds. Later, Kates swam the first leg
on Willamette's victorious 400-yard medley relay team,
which earned a time of 4:10.22 to win by 8.75 seconds.