FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – The drive toward an 11th consecutive title in men's swimming for Whitworth began with the Pirates taking a 42-point lead after the first night of competition at the 2013 Northwest Conference championships on Friday night at the Weyerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.
The Whitworth women opened a 78-point advantage as well.
The men's meet did not feature a single individual event victory for the Pirates, yet team depth has allowed Whitworth to open its lead. Whitman led the way with three wins, while Pacific Lutheran and Pacific each picked up one victory in the men's meet.
PLU opened the men's meet with a win in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:24.76. It is the Lutes' first win in that event since it was first held in 1989. Whitworth's Aaron Vaccaro, Nathan Ranno, Callum MacKintosh and Andrew Sumnicht finished second in 1:24.88.
Gallen Sollom-Brotherton of Whitman defended his title in the 500-yard freestyle with an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 4:31.38, just missing his NWC record of 4:30.02 set last year at this meet. Brandon Smith (4:41.40) finished fourth and Mitchell Beck (4:44.29) took eighth for the Bucs.
Michael Hargit of Pacific University became the first Boxer ever to win the 200-yard individual medley when he came from behind over the final 50 yards to post a time of 1:54.72. But Whitworth had three of the next four places. Sumnicht was runner-up in 1:55.15, while Trevor Case (1:55.48) was fourth and Wes Tatum (1:56.62) was fifth.
The closest race of the men's night was the 50 freestyle where Whitman's Karl Mering out-touched defending champion Chase Mesford of Pacific Lutheran 20.87 – 20.88. Both times met the NCAA provisional qualifying mark. Vaccaro came in just behind the top two with a time of 21.12. Lucas Lin (21.66) was seventh and MacKintosh (21.83) finished eighth.
Whitman closed the night with a victory in the men's 400-yard medley relay, racing to a new NWC meet record time of 3:23.76. Once again the Pirates were second in a relay. Vaccaro, Case, Tatum and MacKintosh finished with a time of 3:27.74.
With its three event victories on the night Whitman moved into second place in the standings. But the Missionaries still trail Whitworth by 42 points in the team standings as the Pirates try to break the record of ten NWC crowns in a row they share with Pacific Lutheran (1969-78).
The men's team scores after the first night of the meet: Whitworth 216, Whitman 174, Pacific Lutheran 142, Puget Sound 108, Linfield 67, Lewis & Clark 66, Pacific 63, Willamette 54.
The Whitworth women won both relays and one individual event to open up a strong 78.5-point lead in the standings over Pacific Lutheran. The women's team scores through the opening night are: Whitworth 212, Pacific Lutheran 133.5, Whitman 122, Pacific 112.5, Puget Sound 103, Lewis & Clark 101, Linfield 96, Willamette 46.
Whitworth then closed its night with a win in the 400 medley relay. That winning time of 3:52.55 by Kate Duvall, Melissa Barringer, Carpenter and Alisa Stang is the second-fasted in NWC history by one one-hundredth of a second and was a provisional NCAA qualifying time.
Duvall raced to a win in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:05.12. She had won the event in 2011, but finished second last season. Bridget Louis finished runner up with a time of 5:08.44 and Abby Pavelko (5:11.17) was fifth.
Claire Collins of Whitman out-touched Whitworth's Hannah Norris to win the 200 I.M. Collins finished in 2:09.32 while Norris touched in 2:09.49. Anna Case (2:14.35) took seventh.
Katie Porter of Pacific defended her title in the 50 freestyle with a time of 23.84, provisionally qualifying for the NCAA championships. Stang took second for the second straight season with a time of 24.30. Borth was sixth (24.95).
Whitworth's women are aiming to reclaim the top-spot in NWC women's swimming, a position the Pirates held in 2010 and 2011.
The meet will continue on Saturday with preliminary heats beginning at 10:00 am and finals getting underway at 6:00 pm.