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FEDERAL WAY, Wash. – Led by a pair of top-eight finishes and record-breaking performances by Nikki Overton and Kelcie Kimura, the Linfield top-10 list got a serious makeover on Sunday’s third and final day at the Northwest Conference Championships at the King County Aquatic Center.
A total of nine individual Wildcats and one relay team cracked the top-10 list or improved upon marks that already ranked among some of the best in program history. When the final team scores were tallied, the women found themselves sitting in seventh place while the men placed sixth of eight teams.
Overton made her first conference championship experience one to remember with her second program record of the weekend, this one coming in the 1650-yard freestyle. The freshman chopped nearly 20 seconds off of her previous best time, and 51 hundredths of a second off the former record held by Andrea Thomas, clocking in at 18 minutes, 11.26 seconds. She placed seventh in the event, wrapping up an impressive individual three-day run that also earned her a school record in the 500 freestyle.
Elizabeth Fry and Devin Pritchard also scored points in the meet’s longest event. Fry boasted the time to beat heading into the final and fastest heat, swam Saturday evening, at 18:20.46, but all eight swimmers in the fourth timed final bettered her mark to drop the freshman to ninth place. Her time was nearly a full minute improvement from her previous career best. Pritchard also dropped a significant amount of time – 55 seconds – from her personal best to finish 16th in 19:32.03.
Kimura twice set new personal standards in the 100 freestyle, and the second time it became a program record. After clocking the third-fastest prelim time (53.38), she placed fourth in the finals in 53.04 seconds, snapping a 12-year mark held by Sue Johnson (53.38).
Maggie May moved up to sixth in the Linfield record books by winning the consolation finals of the 200 backstroke (2:12.19). Megan Sandall was also a consolation finals winner in the 200 breaststroke, her time of 2:27.44 taking her from seventh to fourth all time.
In the 200 butterfly, Katie Main trimmed nine hundredths of a second from Linfield’s fourth-best mark of all time to place seventh. Teammate Caitlin Duffner was third in the consolation finals of the same event and made her debut into the Linfield record books; her time of 2:17.29 now ranks seventh fastest.
Kimura, Fry, Sandall and Overton combined to finish seventh in the 400 freestyle relay. The foursome nearly set Linfield’s third program record of the championship meet, but their time of 3:38.77 was .52 seconds shy of the top time.
Over on the men’s side, Ian Coker kicked things off for the Wildcats with his ninth-place finish in the 1650 freestyle. His mark in the timed finals (17:23.17) was a 43-second improvement from his previous best.
Lee Rivers won the consolation finals of the 200 backstroke, dropping nearly a second off his prelim time (1:59.54) to move onto the top-10 list with the ninth-fastest mark in Linfield history (1:58.62). Teammate A.J. Wagoner was four places back (career-best 2:04.22).
Ian White finished eighth in the consolation finals of the 100 freestyle (49.39). Earlier in the day, he set a new personal best with his prelim time of 49.39 seconds.
Contributing seven points to Linfield’s team total in the 200 butterfly was Miles Phillips, who was the runner-up in the consolation finals. In the morning’s prelim heats, he dipped under two minutes for the first time in his career with a seven-second improvement, and took even more time off his personal best in the finals (1:58.37) to move from ninth to eighth in the Linfield record books.
Sean Iwamasa finished eighth in the same race, clocking a career-best time of 2:02.47.
In the meet’s final race, White, Iwamasa, Coker and Rivers placed sixth in the 400 freestyle relay (3:18.68).
Whitworth swept the team titles on both sides, but in different fashion. The Pirate men, who captured their 11th straight Northwest Conference championship, won just one event over the three-day meet. Whitworth’s women were flashier, winning 11 total events to claim their third title in four seasons and knock off defending champion Puget Sound.
Final team scores on the men’s side included: Whitworth (724.5), Whitman (627.5), Pacific Lutheran (481), Puget Sound (454), Pacific (317), Linfield (210), Lewis & Clark (186) and Willamette (183). Whitman's Karl Mering, who won three events, was named the Outstanding Male Swimmer; his coach Jennifer Blomme was recognized as the Male Coach of the Year.
Final team scores for the women read as following: Whitworth (651), Puget Sound (457), Whitman (453), Pacific Lutheran (431.5), Pacific (384.5), Lewis & Clark (335), Linfield (307) and Willamette (165). Whitworth's Katherine Turner, a three-event champion, was honored as the meet's Outstanding Female Swimmer. Matt Sellman, head coach for Pacific Lutheran, was tabbed as the Female Coach of the Year.