FEDERAL WAY, Wash. — The Whitman College men’s swim team finished in second place in the Northwest Conference behind Whitworth, and the women came in third behind Pacfic Lutheran and Whitworth.
After winning all of his individual events, breaking NWC and meet records and posting multiple NCAA qualifying times, Whitman’s Karl Mering was named NWC Men’s Swimmer of the Meet for the second year running.
“This was gutsy racing. On Day 3 of this meet, the swimmers are pretty tired,” said Missionary assistant coach Chris Bendix. “But we saw no evidence of that in the swimming tonight.”
Claire Collins, Karl Mering and Sam Starr put up the team’s final individual wins, but their teammates backed them up on every turn.
“We broke 21 records last year, said Bendix. “And we had a huge and talented senior class. If you had told me after graduating the swimmers we did last year, especially on the men’s side, that we would be breaking 15 more this year, I would have said no way. But we did it, and it was amazing. It’s so much fun to get to be part of this.”
Cole Weinstein started off the night in the longest event in competitive swimming. With his teammates cheering from the side of the pool, Weinstein came from an outside lane to take third place in the men’s mile in 16:24.50. The swim puts him at second in Whitman’s all-time list behind Galen Sollom-Brotherton, who took seventh in the event at last year’s NCAA National Championships.
Weinstein’s time marked a personal best by 40 seconds.
Cameo Hlebasko beat her seed to take fifth place in the women’s 200-yard backstroke with a 2:08.78.
A trio of Whitman sprinters took to the water in the championship heat of the women’s 100 freestyle, and Tai Hallstein finished just two-one-hundreths of a second off the Whitman record in 53.36 to take third place. Keller Hawkins was close behind in 53.90 in fourth, and Ellen Banks took eighth in a quick field of swimmers, finishing in 54.09. Their times moved Hawkins and Banks up to fourth and sixth places on the Whitman top 10 all-time list.
Whitman’s Starr stepped up to favorite status in the men’s 100 yard freestyle and brought home the win in 46.23 seconds.
Since her freshman year, Collins has been breaking ground as a breaststroker at Whitman.
Last year Collins became only the second woman from Whitman to ever make it to the NCAA National Championships, and then the first female All-American when she took 12th in the 100 yard breaststroke.
Collins holds the school records in both the 100- and 200-yard distance.
Monday, she won the 200 breast by more than a second with a time of 2:21.14, qualifying her with a fast provisional time for NCAA Nationals.
Following her up in third and fifth were Missionaries Shanley Miller and Elise Tinseth.
In the men’s breaststroke, Robby Dorn powered into third place in 2:07.40. Nick Wechter touched just after him in fourth place in 2:07.75, and Weinstein fought his way into seventh with 2:13.25. The men earned the team 43 points in that event alone with their finishes.
Melanie Notari broke into 2:11 territory in the women’s 200 yard butterfly when she took third in the event with a 2:11.65.
Last was Mering’s final individual event of the meet, and he cruised to a victory, new meet record, and very quick NCAA Nationals provisional cut in the 200 yard butterfly. His time was 1:47.85.
The final 400 freestyle relays gave Whitman a parting thrill when the men’s team came in from third place in a late surge to seize the win from the hands of Puget Sound.
The women’s team of Banks, Hawkins, Collins and Hallstein also carved out a new Whitman record with their time of 3:35.74. Hawkins’ split of 53.33 was beaten by only four other swimmers in the event. The team’s time was good for fifth place.
The close of the meet marked the end of the season for the majority of Whitman’s swimmers, but a few will continue training in preparation for NCAA Nationals on March 19-22. Collins, Weinstein, Miller, Mering and Starr all made individual NCAA Nationals provisional qualifying times; the women’s 200 yard medley relay team, including Hawkins, Melanie Notari, Collins and Hallstein, and the men’s 400 yard medley relay team, which adds Robby Dorn and Nic Win to the troupe, will hop back in the pool today to start up training again.