Missionary swimmers complete sweep of NWC foes


WALLA WALLA — Whitman College completed a sweep of Northwest Conference swim rivals Saturday at Harvey Pool as the Missionary men swamped visiting Willamette University 160-40 and the women prevailed 146-55.

On Friday, the men’s team defeated Linfield 140-62 and the women came out on top 127-78.

“With the exception of the men’s 200-meter freestyle, Whitman finished first — and often second and even third — in every event,” Whitman coach Jennifer Blomme said. “Willamette’s team is growing and we knew they would have some new, strong swimmers on their roster. But after the first few events it became evident points weren’t going to be the issue.

“At that point a team has a choice to just do the bare minimum to win the meet, or to focus in and swim races to the best of our ability. I am really proud that in most case, we were able to do the latter.”

Two Whitman women — Cameo Hlebasko and Genay Pilerowski — won two individual events each against the Bearcats.

Hlebasko finished first in the 50 freestyle in 25.55 seconds and paced the field in the 200 backstroke in 2:12.29. Pilerowski finished first in the 200 individual medley in a time of 2:22.29 and won the 200 breaststroke in 2:30.40.

Hlebasko also swam the first leg on Whitman’s victorious 400 medley relay. She and Kendra Clinton, Elise Tinseth and Helen Jenne clocked a 2:11.04 winning time.

Clinton and Jenne were also individual winners. Clinton was first in the 200 butterfly in 2:20.03 and Jenne won 100 freestyle in 55.80.

Other individual winners on the women’s team were Ashley Jay in the 1,000 freestyle (11:24.12) and Charlotte Graham in the 200 freestyle (2:02.64).

And the quartet of Jay, Clinton, Graham and Libby Arnosti finished first in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:48.43.

On the men’s side, Karl Mering won the 200 butterfly in 1:55.24 and swam legs on two Whitman winning relay teams.

Mering, Galen Sollom-Brotherton, Will Erickson and Nick Webster teamed up to win the 400 freestyle relay in 3:20.13. And Mering, Shunei Asao, Paul Chang and Sam Starr stroked to victory in the 400 medley relay in 3:35.63.

Sollom-Brotherton added an individual victory in the 1,000 freestyle in 9:58.55. Asao was victorious in the 50 freestyle in 22.31. Erickson took the 200 backstroke in 2:02.60. And Chang was first in the 200 breaststroke in 2:16.12.

Other Whitman individual wins were recorded by Alex Griffey in the 200 freestyle (1:49.70), Nic Win in the 200 individual medley (2:02.24) and Kevin O’Leary in the 100 freestyle (49.88).

“This was the first time this season that we saw the longer events: 200s of stroke, 400 IM, the 1,000 and 1,650,” Blomme said. “We still have lots of work to do to improve our endurance in these events, but I am very pleased with how we swam this weekend given how early it is in the season.”

Saturday’s lopsided dual-meet wins came on the heels of an equally impressive set of victories over Linfield to open the NWC dual-meet season. And Blomme was impressed with what she saw.

“It was awesome to see our first-year swimmers perform in their first college dual meet,” she said. “The depth of the team was evident in winning all of the relays and taking first and second in so many events — even first through third in some of them.”

Blomme singled out several races as highlights for her teams.

Sollom-Brotherton and Mering raced each other for top honors in the 200 freestyle. Sollom-Brotherton was clocked in 1 minutes, 44.38 seconds to claim first place and Mering was caught in 1:45 flat to finish second.

Tinseth and Win had strong performances in the 400 individual medley. Tinseth turned in a women’s winning time of 4:54.48 and Win won the men’s 400 IM in 4:21.09.

Pilarowski won the women’s 100 butterfly with a personal best time of 1:02.67, and she swam to first as well in the 100 breaststroke in 1:09.12. And Chang was equally impressive in winning the men’s 100 breaststroke in 1:01.12 and the 100 freestyle in 48.74.

“Kudos also to our backstroke winners, both of whom have been sick and struggling physically this week,” Blomme said. “Sam Starr on the men’s side and Cameo Hlebasko on the women’s side.”

Hlebasko captured the women’s 100 backstroke in 1:00.40 and Starr claimed first for the men at the same distance in 54.23.

“Despite not being in full health, they both showed some real fortitude, winning with great races against teammates,” Blomme said.

“Finally,” Blomme added, “something you wouldn’t pick up on in the times is that many of our swimmers were racing new and challenging events.”

Whitman College heads to Oregon’s Willamette Valley this coming weekend. The Missionaries face Lewis & Clark Friday in a dual meet in Portland and Pacific University Saturday in Forest Grove.


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