Otawa Wins Four Events at Bay Area Invitational

OAKLAND, CALIF. -- Willamette University senior swimmer Kei Otawa (Moscow, ID/Moscow HS) won four events at the Bay Area Invitational, hosted by Mills College on Saturday, Nov. 11 and Sunday, Nov. 12. Otawa also earned one second place and one third place finish. Bridget Sutherland (Jr., Everett, WA/Everett HS) led the Willamette women’s team with one second place finish, plus a third place and two fourth place results.

In the team standings, the University of California-Santa Cruz won the men’s title with 438 points. Willamette took second place with 299 points. In the women’s division, UC-Santa Cruz was victorious with 361 points. California State University-East Bay was second with 283 points, followed by Willamette University in third with 187 points and Mills College in fourth with 83 points. UC-Santa Cruz won both team titles despite competing only on the first day.

Otawa’s win in the 50-yard breaststroke was perhaps his most impressive performance. In addition to winning with a time of 28.28 seconds and claiming a margin of victory of 0.36 seconds, he also earned the win against a strong field of swimmers form UCSC, who took second through sixth place. Otawa finished in front of Kenton Drake, who took second for UCSC with a time of 28.64. Ben Ferguson of USCS was third at 28.86.

Also on Saturday, Otawa earned a second place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke and third place finish in the 50-yard freestyle. His time in the 200-yard breaststroke was 2:18.18. First place was earned by Drake, who clocked in at 2:16.51. In the 50-yard freestyle, Otawa timed out at 22.45 seconds and was just 0.15 out of second place and 0.20 out of first. Troy Marcikic of UC-Santa Cruz won the 50 free in 22.25 seconds, while Ferguson took second place at 22.30.

Otawa’s three wins on Sunday came against a field of Willamette swimmers exclusively. Cal State-East Bay and Mill College do not have men’s swimming teams.

Against his fellow Bearcats, Otawa won the 100-yard free style in 50.93, took first in the men’s 100-yard breaststroke in 1:02.26 and took first in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:1.16. Willamette Head Coach Al Stephenson was particularly pleased with Otawa’s effort in the 100-yard breaststroke.

“He would have won that race even if UC-Santa Cruz had been there on Sunday,” Stephenson said. “He swam a very good race.”

Another quality time for the men’s team was recorded by Cason Schmit (Jr., Oakland, CA/Bishop O’Dowd HS) in the 100-yard freestyle. He was timed at 51.72 seconds, as he took second place behind Otawa.

In the overall individual standings, Otawa took first place with 49 points. Ferguson of UCSC was second with 29 points and Chris Meyer of UCSC was third with 27 points.

Sutherland placed second in the 50-yard butterfly, after completing the race in 29.59 seconds on Sunday. First place in the event went to Jackie Palmero of Cal State-East Bay in 28.55 seconds. Sutherland was third in the 200-yard butterfly on Saturday, after recording a time of 2:24.55. Palmero finished first with a time of 2:20.27.

In the 100-yard freestyle, Sutherland was fourth in 1:01.32. She also took fourth in the 100-yard butterfly in 1:04.42, after completing the race just 1/100th of a second behind Bianca Marquez of UC-Santa Cruz, who took third place. The individual champions in the 100 free and the 100 fly were Cory Audiat of CSU-East Bay in 57.05 seconds and Sara Cartwright of UCSC in 1:00.90, respectively.

Other top times for the women’s team were recorded by Lauren Vice (So., Portland, OR/Santa Catalina School) and Jenna Larrow (Fr., Boise, ID/Timberline HS) in the 1650-yard freestyle. Vice took second place at 20:25.39 and Larrow finished third with a time of 20:31.90. The event was won by Sara Peever of CSU-East Bay in 19:47.01.

In the overall individual standings among the four women’s teams, Audiat of CSU-East Bay claimed first place with 31 points. Melissa Grottkau of CSU-EB was second with 29 points and Lani Gusman, also from CSU-EB, was third with 27 points. Sutherland led WU in seventh place with 23 points.

Becca Fischer (Sr., Billings, MT/Billings West HS), one of Willamette’s top women’s swimmers, did not make the trip to California. She will be back in action this weekend, when the Bearcats compete in men’s and women’s swimming at Whitworth College on Friday, Nov. 17 and at Whitman College on Saturday, Nov. 18. The action at Whitworth is set to start at 6 p.m. (PST) using the short format, while the events at Whitman will get underway at 1 p.m. (PST) using the long format.