FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – Led by a dominating performance in the 200-yard backstroke, the Whitworth University men rolled to their 15th Northwest Conference swimming championship in the last 17 years on Sunday night at Wayerhaeuser King County Aquatic Center.
The Pirate men won by 176.5 points over runner-up Whitman to reclaim the title from the Blues. The final men's team scores were: Whitworth 665.5, Whitman 489, Linfield 460.5, Pacific Lutheran 448, Puget Sound 323, Lewis & Clark 302, Willamette 299, Pacific (Ore.) 164.
Pirate head coach Steve Schadt was selected by his peers as the NWC Men's Coach of the Year while Ryan Grady earned the award as the NWC Men's Freshman of the Year.
The highlight of the night for Whitworth's men came early when Patrick Wilber and Byron Rossmiller both shattered the Northwest Conference record in the 200 backstroke. Wilber went 1:46.63 while Rossmiller followed in 1:47.22 to surpass the previous record (1:47.92) set by Pirate All-American and current assistant coach Wes Walton in 2016. Both Wilber and Rossmiller will get a chance to improve on that mark at the NCAA Division III Championships next month.
Wilber's win was his second of the meet and it was also his second NWC record. He won the 100-yard backstroke on Saturday night and set the NWC mark in that same event while leading off the 400-yard medley relay on Friday night.
Whitworth got another men's victory in the 200-yard breaststroke when Grady posted an NCAA provisional time of 2:04.59 to win by over three seconds. Jake Davies took fifth in the event in 2:08.98.
Keenan Robinson opened the meet with a third place finish in the 1,650-yard freestyle with a time of 16:21.51. Puget Sound's Dylan Reimers won the event in 16:04.99.
Owen Lempert just missed out on his third event victory of the meet, taking second in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 46.05. He had already won the 50 Freestyle and 100 Breaststroke. Clark Sun of Whitman earned his fourth straight victory in the event with a time of 44.91.
Jake McCollough finished seventh in the men's 200-yard butterfly in 1:57.17. Linfield's Noah Cutting won the event with an NCAA qualifying time of 1:48.86.
The Pirates closed the meet by finishing third in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Lempert, George Gonzales, Wilber and Eben Schumann went 3:07.96. Whitman won the race with a time of 3:05.96.
Cutting was the NWC Men's Swimmer of the Meet after earning individual victories in the 200-yard I.M., the 100-yard butterfly and the 200 butterfly.
Whitworth's women finished in fifth place in the team standings and picked up their first individual event victory of the championships. The Pirates nearly added a second title.
Hannah Galbraith outdueled Whitman's Mara Selznick to win the 200 backstroke in 2:02.89, which is an NCAA provisional mark. Oliva Cox won the consolation final with a time of 2:10.16.
Jamie Siegler nearly shocked the field, but came up just short, in the 200 breaststroke. She took a slight lead heading to the last lap but was out-touched by Miranda Williams of Whitman in a lunge to the wall. Williams won in 2:22.48 while Siegler touched in 2:22.69. Both are NCAA provisional marks.
Whitworth's women were unable to score a point in the 100 freestyle or the 200 butterfly. The Pirates finished sixth in the 400 freestyle relay at the end of the meet. Megan Thompson, Vagt, Siegler and Galbraith went 3:40.92. Whitman won the race in 3:31.77.
Whitman defended its team title from 2017. The final team scores were: Whitman 614.5, Pacific Lutheran 551.5, Puget Sound 457, Linfield 441, Whitworth 396.5, Lewis & Clark 302.5, Willamette 297, Pacific (Ore.) 135.
Whitman's Jennifer Blomme was the NWC Women's Coach of the Year. Kaycee Simpson of PLU was the women's Freshman of the Year after victories in both the 100 and 200 butterflies. Linfield's Dow and Puget Sound's Kelli Callahan were the Co-NWC Women's Swimmer of the Meet as each won three individual events.
The 2018 NCAA Division III Swimming and Division Championships will take place March 21-24 at the Indianapolis Natatorium in Indiana.