By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
FOREST GROVE, Ore. -- Willamette University swimmers placed third in seven relay events at the 2016 NWC Relays, hosted by Pacific University on Saturday, Oct. 29. The Bearcats took third place in three men's events, two women's events and two coed events.
Pacific Lutheran University won the men's team title with 28 points. Whitworth University placed second at 24, University of Puget Sound was third at 23, Willamette took fourth at 18, and Pacific University placed fifth with 12 points.
The women's team championship also went to PLU, as the Lutes scored 35 points. Whitworth was second with 21 points. Puget Sound placed third at 18, Pacific was fourth at 17, and Willamette was fifth with 14 points.
In the combined team scores, which included all events, Pacific Lutheran was first with 84 points. Whitworth followed in second at 58, Puget Sound was third with 53, Willamette placed fourth with 42 and Pacific was fifth at 34.
Willamette's third place finishes in the coed events were earned in the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestlyle relay.
The Bearcats earned a time of 1:49.65 in the 200 medley relay, with Jason Bayang (Sr., Wahiawa, HI/Hoala School), Ashlyn Witherwax (Jr., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School), Derek Ludwig (Fr., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS) and Rachel Harvill (So., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS) swimming.
In the 400 free relay, Willamette swimmers Shelby Merrill (Sr., Thousand Oaks, CA/Westlake HS), Harvill, Jamie Johnson (Jr., Seattle, WA/Nathan Hale HS) and Mark Yuvienco (Jr., San Jose, CA/Bellarmine College Prep) combining for a time of 3:36.39. WU was 1.72 seconds out of second place.
Willamette's men grabbed third place in the 300-yard butterfly relay, the 300-yard breaststroke relay and the 600-yard freestyle relay. The Bearcat women's team took third place in the 300-yard backstroke relay and the 300-yard breaststroke relay. Each of the men's and women's relays featured three swimmers per relay team.
Yuvienco started the men's 300 butterfly relay for the Bearcats. He was followed by Ben Hedman (Fr., Davis, CA/Davis HS) and Ludwig. They recorded a time of 2:45.74 and completed the race just over a second behind Puget Sound, which took second place in 2:44.73.
In the men's 300 breaststroke relay, Willamette's time was 3:10.69, only 1.61 seconds out of second place and 2.42 seconds behind the winning team from PLU. Swimmers on the relay for the Bearcats wee Alika Masei (Sr., Salem, OR/West Salem HS), Mykah Fujiwara (So., Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School) and Bayang.
Competing for WU in the men's 600 freestyle relay were Yuvienco, Reuben White (Jr., Portland, OR/Westview HS) and Merrill. Willamette's overall time in the race was 5:33.61.
Bearcats swimming in the women's 300 backstroke relay were Niki Kates (Fr., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School), Jensine Rasmussen (Fr., Tacoma, WA/Stadium HS) and Cassie Tallman (Jr., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS). The Bearcats finished 1.52 seconds out of second place with a time of 3:10.35. Whitworth was second in 3:08.83.
Witherwax, Gabby Dewson (So., Portland, OR/Cleveland HS) and Tallman contributed to Willamette's team in the women's 300 breaststroke relay. They achieved a time of 3:39.17.
The Bearcats will open Northwest Conference dual meet action on Friday, Nov. 4 at Whitman College. Meet time is scheduled for 6 p.m. (PDT).