Willamette Men Finish Second, Women Take Third, at Orange County Invitational

Piper Wins Men's 200-yard I.M. and 100-yard Backstroke

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

ALISO VIEJO, CALIF. -- The Willamette University swimming teams competed in the Orange County Invitational hosted by Soka University on Saturday, Jan. 7. The Bearcat men's team finished in second place, while the WU women took third place. Willamette, Soka and Lake Forest College (Ill.) were the participating teams.

Lake Forest won the men's and the women's team competition. In the men's team standings, Lake Forest achieved 54 points, while Willamette followed with 22 points and Soka earned 19. In the women's standings, Lake Forest accumulated 59 points, with Soka recording 24 points and Willamette earning 12.

Sean Piper (Fr., Normandy Park, WA/John F. Kennedy HS) won two events for the Willamette men's team. He took first place in the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke. He won the 200 I.M. with a time of 2:08.51 for a margin of victory of 3.62 seconds. He won by a just over one-half second in the 100 backstroke, as he clocked in at 57.45 seconds, while Zachary Wenner from Lake Forest finished second in 57.98 seconds.

Also earning a victory for the Bearcats in the men's competition was Zander Le Bel (Fr., Dallas, TX/Richardson HS) in the 500-yard freestyle. Le Bel prevailed in a field of six swimmers with a time of 5:18.86.

Claiming a first place finish for the WU women's team was Hope Nelson (Fr., Providence, RI/South Kingstown HS), who outpaced the field in the 100-yard freestyle. Nelson finished in 59.67 seconds to win by more than two seconds over Amy Finn from Lake Forest, who took second in 1:01.97.

Three Bearcats achieved second place finishes in individual events.

For the WU men, Aran Johnson (Fr., Seattle, WA/Garfield HS) was second in the 50-yard freestyle and Chris Whitehead (So., Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) took second in the 100-yard breaststroke. Johnson completed the 50 free in 24.74 seconds, while Alex Marks of LFC won the race in 24.08 seconds. Whitehead earned a time of 1:15.34 in the 100 breaststroke.

Kayla Kosaki (Jr., Hilo, HI/Waiakea HS) registered second place for the Bearcat women in the 100-yard butterfly. She finished in 1:08.20. The event was won by Becky Shaak of Lake Forest in 1:06.86.

In addition, the WU women attained second place in the 200-yard freestyle relay. Lake Forest won the relay in 1:48.50, while Willamette was timed at 1:52.45. Swimming on the relay team for the Bearcats were Nelson, Kosaki, Kersey Bars (Fr., Springfield, OR/Springfield HS) and Lauren Ballinger (Jr., Wenatchee, WA/Wenatchee HS).

Ballinger, who returned to action after studying abroad in Sweden during the fall semester, also took third place in the 50-yard freestyle in 27.67 seconds and swam on WU's 200-yard medley relay team.

The Bearcats will complete their winter training trip to California on Thursday, Jan. 12. They will return home for a pair of Northwest Conference dual meets at the WU Natatorium this weekend. Willamette will take on Whitworth University on Friday, Jan. 13 at 6 p.m. (PST) and will host Whitman College on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 1 p.m. (PST).


Men's Team Scores
Lake Forest University 54
Willamette University 22
Soka University 19

Women's Team Scores
Lake Forest University 59
Soka University 24
Willamette University 12

Sean Piper won the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke.

Sean Piper won the 200-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke.