Whitworth Teams Lead at NWC Swimming Championships

Wes Walton won the 200 I.M. and led off the winning 400 medley relay.
Wes Walton won the 200 I.M. and led off the winning 400 medley relay.

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – The Whitworth men's and women's swimming teams each took leads on Friday after the first night of competition a the 2012 Northwest Conference Championships being held at the King County Aquatic Center.

The Pirate men, aiming for a tenth straight conference title, scored 251 points on the first night of competition to lead Whitman by 97 points.  Whitworth got a win in the 200-yard individual medley and the 400-yard medley relay.  The men's team scores through one day: Whitworth 251, Whitman 154, Puget Sound 153, Pacific Lutheran 114, Pacific (Ore.) 80, Linfield 69, Willamette 53, Lewis & Clark 41.

The Bucs closed the night with their win in the medley relay.  Wes Walton, Rory Buck, Aaron Vaccaro and Nathan Ranno combined to post a meet-record time of 3:24.55.

In the opening 200-yard free relay Whitworth finished second to Whitman (1:25.07) by a half second.  Buck, Ranno, Andrew Sumnicht and Vaccaro swam to a season-best time of 1:25.07.

Walton pulled away to win the 200 I.M. in 1:52.57, earning his first career victory in his first career championship meet.  Sumnicht finished third in 1:56.01 and Korey Kinney was seventh in 2:00.20.

Whitworth's depth showed in the 500-yard freestyle where four Pirates reached the championship finals.  Galen Sollom-Brotherton of Whitman won in 4:30.02, a new NWC record.  Oliver Durand finished fourth (4:37.32), Mitchell Beck was fifth (4:40.58), Austin Vierra was sixth (4:45.57) and Luke Welle was seventh (4:47.23).

Vaccaro was runner-up to PLU's Chase Mesford in the 50-yard freestyle.  Mesford sprinted to 21.31, while Vaccaro finished in 21.45.  Ranno and Jason Lemley tied for seventh place in 21.88.

The Pirate women, shooting for a third straight conference crown, scored 200 points and lead UPS (182) by 18 points.  The women's score after day one: Whitworth 200, Puget Sound 182, Whitman 141, Pacific (Ore.) 92, Pacific Lutheran 91, Lewis & Clark 69, Linfield 68, Willamette 50.

Whitworth opened the women's half of the meet with a win in the 200 free relay.  Jennifer Benson, Melissa Barringer, Marit Borth and Alisa Stang combined to post a time of 1:37.74.

The Pirates closed the night by finishing second in the 400 medley relay to UPS.  The Loggers set an NWC record with a time of 3:52.54, while Kate Duvall, Melissa Barringer, Samantha Smith and Stang posted an NCAA provisional time of 3:53.36.

Duvall finished second to Pacific's Amanda Clark in the 500 free with a time of 5:06.27, leading a 2-3-4 finish for Whitworth swimmers.  Abby Pavelko was third (5:06.55) and Nicole Lecoq was fourth (5:10.19).  Clark won in 5:03.22.

Samantha Smith was fourth in the 200 I.M. with a time of 2:10.15, while Anna Case was seventh (2:13.94).  Allison Clark of Pacific won in 2:08.97.

Katherine Porter gave Pacific three individual victories on the night with her first-place finish in the 50 free (23.73), touching ahead of Stang who took second in 24.31.  Benson was sixth (24.60) and Barringer was eighth (25.23).

The meet continues on Saturday and concludes on Sunday.