Bearcats Compete This Weekend at NWC Swim Championships; Otawa Expected To Challenge For freestyle Titles

TACOMA, WA — As the 2006 Northwest Conference Championship begins on Friday, the University of Puget Sound Logger women are looking for their 10th consecutive NWC Championship and the Whitworth Pirate men hunt for their fourth straight championship, but it is not going to be an easy road for either team.

The Puget Sound women have held a decade of dominance over the NWC, champions since the 1997 season. They were able to make it through the season undefeated in conference, but the rest of the NWC is on their heels and this year Lewis & Clark, Whitman and Whitworth all have the speed to compete for the title.

The UPS women have multiple swimmers with top times in the conference this year. Sophomore Amy Polansky is the returning champion in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle, but Sam Kephart and Brittany Gresset, both from Whitworth, have both posted faster times this season.

Sophomore Leesa Cotton has also posted top times, recording the fastest time in the 200 yard IM, an event in which four out of five fastest times are held by UPS swimmers, and the second fastest times in the 100 and 200 yard backstroke.

Senior Breanna Trygg, the defending backstroke champion looks to make it four straight this year, posting the top time in the conference thus far.

Kephart, last year’s NWC Outstanding Swimmer, returns this year for the Whitworth Pirates and is looking to defend three individual titles in the 500 yard freestyle and 100 and 200 yard butterfly. Holding the top time in seven different events, and with multiple national qualifying times, Kephart will be one swimmer to watch.

Fellow Pirate Katelyn Erickson looks to defend her title in the 200 yard backstroke and Lindsay Nixon, a freshman at Lewis and Clark, holds the top time in the 400 yard IM and the second fastest time in the 100 yard butterfly.

On the men’s side, the Whitworth Pirates made it through the 2005-06 NWC season undefeated and are clearly the favorite to win the team championship but don’t expect the other NWC teams to lay down and surrender.

The Pirates’ Loren Killgore, Co-Outstanding Swimmer at last year’s meet, returns to defend three individual titles, including his two year reign as the champion in the 1,650 yard freestyle. Also from Whitworth, David Lillard has posted the top times in the 100 and 200 yard butterfly while Steve Garka, also from Whitworth, holds the top marks in the 50 and 100 yard freestyle.

Willamette’s Kei Otawa ranks No. 2 in the conference in the 50 free. The Bearcat junior also ranks No. 4 in the 100 free, NO. 5 in the 200 free and No. 3 in the 50 breasstroke.

Junior Greg Wolfe, from Puget Sound, holds top times in the 500 and 1,650 yard freestyle.. The Loggers’ Paul Hughes has a good chance at taking titles in the 100 and 200 yard breaststroke, having posted the top times in those distances. Freshman Garrett Gentling, from UPS, holds the top time thus far in the conference in the 200 yard backstroke, holding a three-second advantage in the race. He has also notched top times in the 200 yard individual medley and 100 yard backstroke.

Also watch for Justin Lawton from Lewis and Clark, who holds top times in the sprint freestyle events.