Otawa Completes Outstanding NWC Performance with Second Place Finish in 200-Yard Breaststroke

WALLA WALLA, WASH. -- Willamette University senior swimmer Kei Otawa (Moscow, ID/Moscow HS) took second place in the men’s 200-yard breaststroke at the Northwest Conference Championships on Sunday, Feb. 11 at Whitman College, as he earned his third top-three finish of the weekend. Otawa’s efforts in the 200-yard breaststroke led a group of five Willamette swimmers who competed in the championship finals of their respective events on Sunday. The men’s team finished in sixth place, while the women’s team concluded the weekend in seventh place.

Otawa finished behind Bryan Clarke of Whitworth College, who won the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:09.51. Otawa improved by almost four seconds over his own time in the preliminaries, as he clocked in at 2:12.28 in the finals. His second place finish was nearly a full second in front of Pat Murray of Lewis & Clark, who took third place in 2:13.24.

Earlier in the NWC Championships, Otawa registered a third place finish in the 50-yard freestyle and also claimed third place in the 100-yard breaststroke. He times were 21.67 seconds in the finals of the 50-yard freestyle on Friday and 59.22 seconds in the finals of the 100-yard breaststroke on Saturday.

During the final day of competition, Becca Fischer (Sr., Billings, MT/Billings West HS) led the WU women’s team by taking fifth place in the 200-yard breaststroke. She clocked in at 2:32.19 seconds, just 0.06 seconds behind Katelyn Erickson of Whitworth in fourth place. Fischer concluded the weekend with three finishes in the top eight, as she also achieved fourth place in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:10.15) and earned an eighth place finish in the 100-yard backstroke (1:04.82).

Cason Schmit (Sr., Oakland, CA/Bishop O’Dowd HS) also registered a top eight finish for the third time, as he concluded the 100-yard freestyle in eighth place with a time of 53.78 seconds. His other top results at the championships included third place in the 100-yard backstroke at 54.51 seconds and sixth place in the 50-yard freestyle in 22.39 seconds.

Other Willamette athletes competing in the championship finals on Sunday were Shannon Gima (Jr., Alameda, CA/Lick-Wilmerding HS) and Matthew Tanigawa (Fr., Kailua, HI/Baptist Academy). Gima finished eighth in the 200-yard backstroke, as she recorded a time of 2:21.74. Tanigawa was eighth in the 200-yard butterfly after earning a time of 2:13.5.

During the weekend, Gima also took fifth place in the 100-yard backstroke. She earned ninth place in the 200-yard butterfly on Sunday by winning the consolation finals with a time of 2:23.20.

Also competing for the WU women’s team in the consolation finals on the final day of the championships were Jenna Larrow (Fr., Boise, ID/Timberline HS), Lauren Vice (So., Portland, OR/Santa Catalina School) and Brittany Thiemens (Jr., Bellevue, WA/Bellevue HS). Larrow was 16th at 19:57.25 and Vice was 17th at 20:20.36 in the 1,650-yard freestyle (one heat vs. time rather than finals and consolation finals). Thiemens was 14th in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 58.25 seconds.

The men’s team was represented in the consolation finals on Sunday by Greg Henselman (Jr., Corvallis, OR/Corvallis HS), Pete Kahn (So., Billings, MT/Billings Senior HS), Graham Smith (Sr., Wilsonville, OR/Wilsonville HS) and Kevin Tangeman (Fr., Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS). Henselman took 15th place in the 1,650 freestyle with a time of 19:39.67 (one heat was held vs. time rather than finals and consolation finals) and also finished 15th in the 200-yard butterfly in 2:23.02. Kahn claimed 12th place in 2:12.92 and Smith earned 16th place in 2:24.82 in the men’s 200-yard backstroke. Tangeman placed 16th in the 200-yard butterfly in 2:30.61.

In the men’s team standings, Whitworth claimed first place with 627 points. Linfield College took second with 609 points, while the University of Puget Sound finished third with 546 points. Whitman was fourth at 377, Pacific Lutheran University was fifth at 361, Willamette was sixth at 263, Lewis & Clark was seventh at 237 and Pacific University was eighth with 41 points. Whitworth won the men’s championship for the fifth year in a row.

The women’s team title was won by the Puget Sound with 703 points. The Loggers were followed by Whitworth in second with 654 points. Whitman was third at 407, Lewis & Clark took fourth at 400 and Linfield finished fifth at 393. Pacific Lutheran University placed sixth at 239, Willamette was seventh at 201 and Pacific took eighth with 130 points. Puget Sound recorded its 11th consecutive women’s championship.

Special awards were presented to the top swimmers and coaches at the championships. Natalie Turner of Whitworth was named the Women’s Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet. The Men’s Outstanding Swimmer of the Meet was split in a three-way tie between Kevin Caple and Dom Rieniets of Linfield and David Dolphay of Whitworth. The Women’s Coach of the Year was Steve Schadt of Whitworth and the Men’s Coach of the Year was Gary Gutierrez of Linfield.