Written by Mark Colachico, Willamette Athletics Communications Writer
TACOMA, Wash. -- In the first road test of the 2017-18 Northwest Conference season for Willamette University's swimming teams, the Bearcats fell to NWC foe Pacific Lutheran University, 162-43 in the women's meet and 139-66 on the men's side, on Friday evening, Nov. 11 inside the PLU Pool.
As announced Friday by the Northwest Conference office, Pacific Lutheran is slated as the favorite to win the conference title on the women's side with PLU's men's team picked as the runner-up on the men's side. Meanwhile, Willamette is listed sixth in the men's preseason poll with the women sitting in seventh place. On Frieday evening, the Lutes won all 11 events on the women's side and took home the winning medal in nine of 11 events on the men's side.
The highlights for the Bearcats came on the men's side, as Ben Hedman (So., Davis, CA/Davis HS) won the 400-yard individual medley with a time of 4:26.06 to go along with a victory for Ben Fritz (Fr., Los Gatos, CA/Leigh HS) in the 500-yard freestyle thanks to a time of 5:09.98. The Willamette duo earned 18 of the team's 66 points in the two events, as Hedman and Fritz tallied nine points each in the victories.
On the women's side, Kate Harvey (Sr., Atlantic City, FL/Duncan Fletcher HS) and Anna Burdine (Jr., Des Moines, WA/Mount Rainier HS) posted a pair of top 3 finishes in the 1,000-yard freestyle with times of 11:47.89 and 11:48.11, respectively, to finish second and third overall. Burdine also finished third individually in the 500-yard freestyle in a time of 5:44.12.
Along with his win in the 500-yard freestyle, Fritz also posted a runner-up finish in the 1,000-yard freestyle in a time of 10:29.40. Mark Yuvienco (Sr., San Jose, CA/Bellarmine College Prep) aided Hedman and Fritz in the team point total with a pair of runner-up finishes in the 200-yard freestyle by earning a time of 1:51.52 and in the 100-yard butterfly in a time of 54.18 seconds.
"We knew the meet would be tough," Willamette Head Coach Leslie Shevlin said. "Both squads at PLU are regionally ranked. Both of our teams fought hard. The men got two hard fought wins and their fight was good to see. The women are starting to progress with some time drops, and that is good to see as we head into our last couple of meets this semester."
Willamette will close out its weekend NWC road trip on Saturday, Nov. 11, against the Loggers of the University of Puget Sound beginning at 1 p.m. (PST) in Tacoma, Washington.