By Robert McKinney, Assistant Athletics Director, Communications
NEWBERG, Ore. -- The Willamette University men's and women's swimming teams both won on Friday, Jan. 11, as they outscored George Fox University in a Northwest Conference dual meet at the Chehalem Aquatic Center. The Bearcat women's team held off the Bruins for a 105-92 victory, while the Willamette men's team prevailed 144-42.
GFU excelled in the freestyle events, but Willamette had more depth in the strokes. The Bruins, competing in their first season of competition, have just eight athletes on their men's roster. Both Willamette teams improved to 1-3 overall, 1-3 in the NWC. George Fox's teams fell to 0-5 on the season, 0-5 in the NWC.
With GFU fielding a limited men's roster, the Bearcat men's team swam unopposed in several events. The Bruins competed in five of the nine individual men's events and in one of the two men's relays. Even so, there were several close men's and women's races between Willamette and George Fox.
"Today's meet was a great chance for us to see where we are coming out of our winter training trip," Willamette Head Coach Brent Summers said. "The swimmers are pretty sore and they were able to put their focus on the racing, and that's going to serve us well come the conference championship meet in a few weeks. I'm very proud of all of our swimmers today, but I want to give an extra mention to our women's team, which had a very tough meet against a great George Fox team. The Bruins swam really well and gave us a tough meet all the way until the last relay."
The evening started with a good race in the women's 200-yard medley relay. The Willamette team of Corinne Pierson (Fr., Port Townsend, WA/Port Townsend HS), Min Wei (Fr., Fushun, China/Cascade HS), Kiley Lin (Sr.Jr., Palo Alto, CA/Henry M. Gunn HS) and Rachel Harvill (Sr., Alamo, CA/Monte Vista HS) won the race in 1:54.22. George Fox's relay team of Olivia Gibson, Gabby Wood, Aspen Monkhouse and Kaitlyn Brookes placed second in 1:58.00. WU also placed third to grab an early 13-4 lead in team scoring.
Willamette swam unopposed in the men's opening relay. The top 200-yard medley group for the Bearcats included Derek Ludwig (Jr., Moraga, CA/Campolindo HS), Mykah Fujiwara (Sr., Kaneohe, HI/Punahou School), Daniel Fang (So., Rancho Santa Margarita, CA/Catholic HS) and Jacob Hulti (Jr., Astoria, OR/Astoria HS). They combined for a time of 1:44.84.
Individual event winners for the Willamette women's team were Jensine Rasmussen (Jr., Tacoma, WA/Stadium HS) in the 400-yard individual medley, Lin in the 100-yard backstroke, and Wei during the 100-yard breaststroke.
Ramussen prevailed in the 400-yard individual medley in 5:12.38. She led a trio of Bearcats who swam unopposed. Lin took first in the 100-yard backstroke at 1:02.30, with Niki Kates (Jr., Truckee, CA/Forest Charter School) in second at 1:05.34. In the 100-yard breaststroke, Wei earned first place in 1:11.31. She held off Wood from GFU, who placed second in 1:14.79. Wood out-touched Cameron Taggesell (So., Sonoma, CA/Sanoma Valley HS) of WU, who claimed third place in 1:14.
Two men's individual events were won by Ben Fritz (So., Los Gatos, CA/Leigh HS), who placed first in the 1,650-yard freestyle and the 500-yard freestyle. Other Bearcats winning a men's individual event were Evan Segimoto (So., Alamo, CA/The Athenian School) in the 50-yard freestyle, Colin Hakeman (Jr., Bellingham, WA/Sehome HS) in the 400-yard individual medley, Ludwig in the 100-yard butterfly, Greg Wells (Fr., Roseville, CA/Woodcreek HS) in the 100-yard freestyle, and Fujiwara in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Willamette was unopposed in the two men's distance events won by Fritz. He finished first in the 1,650-yard freestyle in 17:46.44, with Hakeman right behind him in 17:48.96. In the 500-yard freestyle, Fritz was timed at 5:18.84.
Segimoto led a 1-2-3 finish in the men's 50-yard freestyle with a time of 23.44 seconds. Wells was second in 23.78 and Keaton Adams (Fr., Colorado Springs, CO/Doherty HS) was third in 23.94. GFU's only swimmer in the event, Noah Brulingame, was fourth in 24.03.
Hakeman won the 400-yard individual medley in 4:30.13 with no GFU swimmer competing. Ludwig took first in the 100-yard butterfly be earning a time of 54.13 seconds. Zach Johnson was second for the Bruins in 55.98 seconds.
Wells was first in the 100-yard freestyle at 52.42 seconds. Hulti was second at 52.93. All of the swimmers in the race were from Willamette. Fujiwara won a very close race in the 100-yard breaststroke, as he recorded a time of 1:03.90 to edge out Zach Johnson of GFU. Johnson was second in 1:04:16, just 0.26 out of the lead.
The Willamette men's team completed the strong day by holding on during a tight finish in the 200 free relay. WU won by 0.17, as the Bearcats finished in 1:34.25 and George Fox completed the race in 1:34.42. Swimming for the Bearcats were Segimoto, Wells, Fritz and Fujiwara. GFU's team included Johnson, Burlingame, Christian Villacrusis and Caleb Dean.
Dean won two events for the Bruins, taking first place in the men's 200-yard freestyle in 1:50.22 and the men's 100-yard backstroke in 55.31 seconds. He held off Fang in the 200 free, with Fang placing second in 1:51.56. Monkhouse achieved first place in two women's races for GFU. She won the 50-yard freestyle in 24.31 seconds and prevailed in the 100-yard freestyle in 57.15 seconds.
The Bearcats will swim at Lewis & Clark College on Saturday (Jan. 12) in a Northwest Conference dual meet. Action in Portland, Oregon, is set to begin at 1 p.m. (PST).
Big Moment of the Day for Willamette
Mykah Fujiwara pulled off an impressive back-to-back double when he won
the men's 100-yard breaststroke by just 0.26 with a time of 1:03.90 and
then swam the anchor leg in the next men's event, as Willamette won the
200-yard freestyle relay. In the relay, he held off GFU's anchor, Caleb Dean,
bringing WU the victory in 1:34.25. The Bruins were just 0.17 behind the
Bearcats in 1:34.42. Fujiwara also swam in the 200-yard medley relay, which
Willamette won unopposed in 1:44.84.