Piper Earns 10th Place in 200 I.M. at NWC Championships

Conference Meet Will Continue through Sunday, Feb. 12

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

FEDERAL WAY, WASH. -- Willamette freshman Sean Piper (Normandy Park, WA/John F. Kennedy HS) placed 10th in the 200-yard individual medley during action on the first day of the 2012 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships at the King County Aquatic Center on Friday, Feb. 10. Piper placed second in the consolation final at 1:59.33, as he broke the 2-minute mark to finish 10th overall.

Earlier in the day, Piper registered the 12th-best time in the preliminary heats at 2:00.88, as he lowered his top time of the season by nearly five seconds. He reduced his time by an additional 1.55 seconds in the consolation finals.

Piper's previous best was 2:05.20. His time in the prelims was just 1.28 seconds away from the top eight, which would have advanced him into the championship final. The ninth through 16th-place finishers moved into the consolation final.

Wesley Tatem of Whitworth won the consolation final in the men's 200 I.M. to place ninth overall. He achieved a time of 1:58.64 in the consolation final to finish 0.69 seconds in front of Piper. Tatem also claimed ninth place in the preliminary heats with a time of 1:59.84, just 1.04 seconds faster than Piper's preliminary time.

A total of five women's events and five men's events were completed on Friday. In addition to the 200-yard individual medley, other events on the first day were the 500-yard freestyle, the 50-yard freestyle, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400-yard medley relay.

In the individual events, two Bearcats just missed advancing into the consolation finals.

Zander Le Bel (Fr., Dallas, TX/Richardson HS) placed 17th in the preliminary heats of the men's 500 freestyle with a time of 5:03.92. He reduced his top time of the season by 5.84 seconds to finish just 2.04 seconds out of 16th place. In the women's 200-yard individual medley, Kersey Bars (Fr., Springfield, OR/Springfield HS) placed 17th in the prelims, while achieving a time of 2:26.22. She missed the consolation finals by 3.42 seconds.

Alex Burkhart (Fr., Los Gatos, CA/Los Gatos HS), who joined Le Bel in the men's 500 freestyle, placed 19th. He lowered his top time of the year by 25.55 seconds to register a time of 5:08.99.

The Willamette women's team placed sixth in the 200-yard freestyle relay in 1:45.20. The Bearcats finished 0.83 seconds behind Linfield College, which took fifty place at 1:44.37. Willamette held off Lewis & Clark by 1.20 seconds, as the Pioneers took seventh place in 1:46.40. Whitworth won the relay in 1:37.74.

Willamette was eighth in a very close race in the men's 200 freestyle relay. WU's time of 13.07 was just 0.03 out of seventh place (Linfield at 1:32.04), 0.46 out of sixth (Lewis & Clark at 1:31.61) and 1.20 out of fifth (Pacific at 1:31.05). Whitman claimed first place with a time of 1:25.07.

The NWC Championships will continue on Saturday, Feb. 11 and Sunday, Feb. 12. The morning session is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. (PST) each day, while the evening session will begin at 6 p.m on Saturday and 5 p.m. on Sunday.

2012 NWC Swimming Championships
At King County Aquatic Center
Federal Way, Wash.
Feb. 10-12
Sean Piper of Willamette advanced to the consolation finals of the men's 200 I.M.

Sean Piper of Willamette advanced to the consolation finals of the men's 200 I.M.