Otawa and Schmit Earn Third Place Finishes to Highlight Second Day at NWC Championships

WALLA WALLA, WASH. -- For the second consecutive day, Kei Otawa (Sr., Moscow, ID/Moscow HS) and Cason Schmit (Sr., Oakland, CA/Bishop O’Dowd HS) led the way for the Willamette University men’s swimming team at the Northwest Conference Championships, as both recorded third place finishes on Saturday, Feb. 10. Otawa took third in the 100-yard breaststroke, while Schmit finished third in the 100-yard backstroke. Becca Fischer (Sr., Billings, MT/Billings West HS) and Shannon Gima (Jr., Alameda, CA/Lick-Wilmerding HS) were the leaders of the Willamette women’s team on Saturday, as Fischer claimed fourth place in the 100-yard breaststroke and eighth place in the 100-yard backstroke, while Gima took fifth place in the 100-yard backstroke.

The University of Puget Sound, which trailed Whitworth College 212-199 in the women’s team standings after the first day, surged past the Pirates on the second day of the championships. UPS is in first place with 476 points, while Whitworth holds second place at 424 points. Lewis & Clark College is third at 288, Whitman College is fourth at 269, Linfield College ranks fifth with 267 points, Pacific Lutheran University is sixth at 158, Willamette is seventh with 139 points and Pacific University is eighth with 95 points. WU trailed Pacific at the start of the second day.

In the men’s competition, Linfield remained in first place and improve to 413 points. Whitworth and UPS were both within striking distance in second and third, respectively. Whitworth had 396 points, while Puget Sound was right behind the Pirates with 393 points. Pacific Lutheran and Whitman were tied for fourth placed with 247 points. Willamette was sixth with 189 points. Lewis & Clark held seventh place with 165 points and Pacific was eighth with 22 points.

Otawa placed third in the 100-yard breaststroke by clocking in at 59.22 seconds. Paul Hughes of Puget Sound won the race with a time of 58.19 seconds. Schmit achieved his third place finish in the backstroke with a time of 54.51 seconds and was just four one-hundredths of a second out of second place. Jackson Kowalski took first place in 53.58, while Luke Stocker was second with a time of 54.47 seconds.

Three Willamette men qualified for the consolation finals. Matthew Tanigawa (Fr., Kailua, HI/Baptist Academy) took ninth place in the 400-yard individual medley by winning the consolation finals in 4:45.61. Pete Kahn (So., Billings, MT/Billings Senior HS) took 13th in the 100-yard backstroke after completing the race in 1:00.79. Kevin Tangeman (Fr., Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) was 15th in the 100-yard butterfly, as he registered a time of 1:00.10.

Fischer achieved her two Top 8 finishes with only a short break between the races. Her fourth place time in the 100-yard breaststroke was 1:10.15. The men’s 100-yard breaststroke, in which Otawa placed third, was the next event and was followed by the women’s 100-yard backstroke. Gima claimed fifth place in the backstroke in 1:02.68 and Fischer took eighth with a time of 1:04.82.

The Bearcat women’s team also had four swimmers in the consolation finals. Brittany Thiemens (Jr., Bellevue, WA/Bellevue HS) was ninth in the 100-yard breaststroke, as she won the consolation race. Lauren Gard (Fr., Milwaukie, OR/Rex Putnam HS) finished 14th in the 100-yard breaststroke in 1:20.17. Lauren Vice (So., Portland, OR/Santa Catalina School) placed 13th in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:06.72 and Whitney Price (Fr., Glastonbury, CT/Glastonbury HS) took 15th place in the 200-yard freestyle by completing the consolation race in 2:06.51.

WU’s top relay finish on Saturday was in the men’s 200-yard medley relay. The Bearcats took fifth place, as Schmit, Otawa, Tangeman and Tanigawa combined for a time of 1:41.66.

The NWC Championships will conclude on Sunday, Feb. 11. All remaining events will have preliminary races in the morning, followed by the consolation finals and championship finals at night.