Schulze Completes Outstanding NWC Meet with Third Place Finish in 200 Backstroke

By Robert McKinney, Athletics Communications Director, (503) 370-6110

FEDERAL WAY, WASH. -- Willamette University senior Gwen Schulze (Sr., Silverdale, WA/Central Kitsap HS/Austin College) completed a tremendous weekend at the Northwest Conference Swimming Championships by taking third place in the finals of the women's 200-yard backstroke with a career-best time of 2:12.78 on Sunday, Feb. 14. The NWC Championships, which were held at the King County Aquatic Center, began on Friday (Feb. 12) and ended with Sunday's evening session.

Earlier in the meet, Schulze took second place in the 100-yard butterfly with a career-best time of 1:00.26, as she recorded the fourth-fastest time in Willamette history. Schulze also won the Consolation Final of the 200-yard individual medley to take nine place overall in the event with a time of 2:16.82.

Prior to Sunday, Schulze owned a personal-best time of 2:16.30 in the 200-yard backstroke, set in the Consolation Finals of the 2008 NWC Championships. On Sunday, she lowered her time to 2:14.23 in the preliminary round and dropped another 1.35 seconds with her third place finish in the Championship Finals.

"Gwen was the heart and soul of this team," Willamette Head Coach Leslie Shevlin said. "She had personal bests in all three of her events. She gave it everything she's got and had a phenomenal year."

The women's 200 backstroke was won by Cat Menkel-Lawrence of Lewis & Clark College, who won the "A" Final with an NCAA provisional qualifying time of 2:07.77. Cait Farry from the University of Puget Sound, placed second in 2:12.35, just 0.43 seconds in front of Schulze.

Whitworth University claimed the women's team title and the men's team championship. The Pirates scored 793 points to win the women's competition. Whitworth earned 724.5 points on its way to the men's title.

The Bearcat women placed seventh in the final team standings. The WU men's team finished eighth in the team standings.

"It was a fantastic meet," Shevlin said regarding Willamette's overall efforts during the weekend. "About 90 percent of our results were personal-best times for everyone on the team, which was a great accomplishment. The tone was really set when we got fourth place in the women's 400-yard medley relay on Friday night after being seeded eighth."

Three Willamette swimmers competed on Sunday in the weekend's longest event, the 1,650-yard freestyle. In the women's 1,650, Jenna Larrow (Sr., Boise, ID/Timberline HS) achieved ninth place with a career-best time of 18:48.66, as she significantly lowered her seed time of 19:14.93.

Hanna Connett (Jr., Pullman, WA/Pullman HS) took 14th place in the women's 1,650 and recorded a time of 19:27.94, as she finished the race 32.21 seconds faster than her seed time. Ian McGahan (Fr., Tacoma, WA/Stadium HS) placed 18th in the men's 1,650 with a time of 19:59.31.

McGahan also competed in the Consolation Finals of the 200-yard butterfly. He took 16th place after earning a time of 2:23.83, nearly three seconds faster than his time in the preliminary round earlier Sunday.

Three members of the Willamette women's team participated in the Consolation Finals on the final day of the meet.

Lauren Ballinger (Fr., Wenatchee, WA/Wenatchee HS) placed second in the "B" Final of the 100-yard freestyle in 56.12 seconds. It was her career-best time, lowering her result from the prelims (56.48) by 0.36 seconds. Ballinger finished 10th overall in the event.

Kara Koetje (So., Arlington, WA/Stanwood HS) and Kayla Kosaki (Fr., Hilo, HI/Waiakea HS) both swam in the "B" Final of the 200-yard butterfly.

Koetje, who registered a career-best 2:27.05 in the prelims, reduced her time by roughly four-and-a-half seconds to take third in the "B" Final and 11th place overall in 2:22.54. Kosaki placed sixth in the "B" Final and took 14th overall with a time of 2:25.20.

Final women's team scores were: (1st) - Whitworth 793, (2nd) - Puget Sound 753, (3rd) - Lewis & Clark 356, (4th) - Whitman College 355, (5th) - Linfield College 261, (6th) - Pacific University 241, (7th) - Willamette 223, (8th) - Pacific Lutheran University 191.

Final men's team scores were: (1st) - Whitworth 724.5, (2nd) - Puget Sound 611, (3rd) - Whitman 607, (4th) - Linfield 365, (5th) - Lewis & Clark 276, (6th) - Pacific 248, (7th) - Pacific Lutheran 245.5, (8th) - Willamette 1.

DAY 3 PRELIMS
DAY 3 FINALS
NWC Swimming Championships
King Country Aquatic Center
Federal Way, Wash.
Feb. 12-14, 2010
Gwen Schulze placed second in the 100 fly, third in the 200 back and ninth in the 200 I.M. at the NWC Championships.

Gwen Schulze placed second in the 100 fly, third in the 200 back and ninth in the 200 I.M. at the NWC Championships.

Jenna Larrow achieved a personal-best time of 18:48.66 to take ninth place in the women's 1,650-yard freestyle.

Jenna Larrow achieved a personal-best time of 18:48.66 to take ninth place in the women's 1,650-yard freestyle.

Ian McGahan reached the Consolation Finals of the men's 200-yard butterfly.

Ian McGahan reached the Consolation Finals of the men's 200-yard butterfly.