FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – Kate Duvall's surprise victory in the 100-yard backstroke during the second evening of finals on Saturday night at the King County Aquatic Center may prove crucial as the Whitworth women strive for a third straight Northwest Conference swimming championship.
The Pirate men, meanwhile, took the top five places in the 200-yard freestyle and are well on their way to their tenth straight crown.
Duvall, a specialist in the 200 distance of the backstroke, came into the night as the third seed in the 100 back, but sprinted to a time of 58.69 to win the event. Jennifer Benson was fourth for the Pirates in 1:00.19 and Anna Case was eighth (1:02.40).
Abby Pavelko, Whitworth's only competitor in the women's 400-yard individual medley, defended her title in the event with a time of 4:33.05, an NCAA provisional qualifying mark.
Whitworth also captured wins in both women's relay events on Saturday. The Pirates opened the night with a school-record time of 1:47.76 to win the 200-yard medley relay. Benson led off, followed by Melissa Barringer, Samantha Smith and Alisa Stang. Whitworth then closed the night with a win in the 800-yard freestyle relay. Nicole Lecoq led off, followed by Duvall, Benson and Stang.
But the Whitworth women had to sweat out some tense moments on Saturday, at one point falling behind Puget Sound by 21 points.
Smith finished second in the 100-yard butterfly in an NCAA provisional time of 57.83. Toni Castillo of Pacific Lutheran won the race in 57.75.
Lecoq (1:55.55) and Stang (1:56.10) finished third and fourth, respectively, in the 200 free. Pacific's Amanda Clark earned her second win of the meet with a time of 1:53.76.
Barringer broke a long-standing school record in the 100-yard breaststroke, finishing second place with a time of 1:06.52. The previous record of 1:07.07 had stood since 1996. Tracy Wormwood of UPS won in a conference-record time of 1:04.35.
The women's team scores through the second of three days of competition: Whitworth 428, Puget Sound 420, Whitman 347, Pacific Lutheran 239, Pacific 232, Lewis & Clark 196, Linfield 138, Willamette 107.
Whitworth's men hold a commanding lead over Whitman and Puget Sound after Saturday's races: Whitworth 585, Whitman 360, Puget Sound 326, Pacific Lutheran 318, Pacific 174, Linfield 160, Willamette 117, Lewis & Clark 100.
The Pirate men won only three events tonight, but the team depth is leading to the dominating score. Whitworth scored 88 points alone in the 200 free, led by Austin Vierra's win in a time of 1:42.26. Oliver Durand was close behind in 1:42.32 and Mitchell Beck was third in 1:44.07. Nathan Ranno was fourth (1:44.18) and Callum McKintosh was fifth (1:44.89).
Whitworth had four finalists in the 400 I.M., led by Sumnicht who took third in 4:10.63. Luke Welle was fourth (4:12.77), Korey Kinney was fifth (4:14.85) and Michael Locatell was seventh (4:17.41). Galen Sollem-Brotherton of Whitman won in 3:59.24.
Whitman's Karl Mering won the 100 fly in 49.83. Vaccaro was a very close third (49.97) and Tatum was fourth (50.42).
Walton was runner up in the 100 back with a time of 51.81, just behind Teale Kitson of UPS (51.59). Anthony Fish was seventh (53.49) and Jasom Lemley was eighth (53.78).
The only disappointment of the night for the Pirates might have been the 800 free relay when Whitman pulled an upset to end the session. The Missionaries won in 6:51.37 with Buck, Durand, Beck and Vierra finishing in 6:53.66.
The meet concludes on Sunday.