Photo Courtesy: Ann Wigger
By McKenna Ehrmantraut, Swimming World College Intern.
The college swimming season is in full swing with many pre-holiday invitationals starting to give a glimpse at conference lineups in February. The Northwest Conference – consisting of Whitworth, Pacific Lutheran, Whitman College, Linfield College, University of Puget Sound, Pacific University, Lewis and Clark, Willamette and new member George Fox – are heading into the new year with familiar faces and a few new surprises leading the pack.
On the women’s side, the University of Puget Sound (Tacoma) and Pacific Lutheran (Tacoma) are both undefeated in conference competition. Both teams have deep talent in multiple events and look strong going into the new year. Don’t count Whitman (Walla Walla) or Whitworth (Spokane) out of contention as the season progresses: all four teams have carried over strong programs from last year.
The University of Puget Sound holds the top relay times in the 400 free, 800 free and 200 medley, led by veterans Kelli Callahan, Calista Skog, Aza Verhoeven and Kai Haven. Whitworth snags the 200 free and 400 medley relay titles fueled by individual leaderboard 100 and 200 backstroker Hannah Galbraith.
Freestyle sprinters Tahni Kakazu (Linfield) and Skog led the 50 and 100 free respectively, and standout Callahan held on to the 200 free top spot along with her dominate 200 and 400 IM. Evette Dow (Linfield) took the 500 and 1,000 free events and held on to a close second in the 1,650 – less than a second behind Taylor Bingea (Pacific Lutheran).
Jamie Siegler (Whitworth) is dominates the breaststroke category, taking first in the 100 and second in the 200 just behind teammate Miranda Williams. Kaycee Simpson (Pacific Lutheran) rounds out the top spots for the women with the fastest times in the 100 and 200 fly.
The Whitworth and Pacific Lutheran men are tied with undefeated conference dual meet records midseason, with Pacific Lutheran holding the top relay time in the 200 free and Whitworth cleaning up with the 400 free, 800 free, 200 and 400 medley top times.
The men’s sprint freestyles will be close as the season progresses with Trevor Gourley (Linfield), Owen Lempert (Whitworth) and newcomer Matthew Cole (Puget Sound) battling for the top three spots. Ryan Grady (Whitworth) dominates the men in the 200, 500, 1,000 and 1,650 free events. Puget Sound’s Brett Kolb and Dylan Reimers hope to stop Grady as the season progresses.
Bryan Rossmiller (Whitworth) tops the men’s backstroke events with Daisuke Fitial (Linfield) just .18 behind. Gourley took the top spot in the 100 breast, and freestyler Grady took the top 200 spot.
Fitial of Linfield snagged the 100 fly top spot with Logan Todd (Whitworth) taking over the 200 breast lead. Fitial also stole the show in the 200 IM, while Grady surged to the top in the 400 IM.
The PNW swimmers will be finishing up classes this week and start preparing for training trips in early January. The teams will meet again at the PNW Conference meet at the King County Aquatic Center in Federal Way, Wa. from February 7 to 10, 2019.
To keep up-to-date on top times and conference news visit the NWC Swimming website.
To see how the conference has matched the seasons predictions, check out A Sneak Peak of the 2018-19 Northwest Conference Season.