Masei Sets Willamette Record in 200 Backstroke, Reaches Championship Final

Guffey Places Fifth in Prelims, Advances to Top Final in 100 Freestyle

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

FEDERAL WAY, WASH. -- Willamette University swimmer Alika Masei (Fr., Salem, OR/West Salem HS) set a school record in the men's 200-yard backstroke while placing third in the preliminary heats during the final day of the 2014 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships on Sunday, Feb. 16 at the King County Aquatic Center.

Masei earned a time of 1:53.82 in the prelims to break the old Willamette record by 1.26 seconds. The previous record of 1:55.08 was set by Eric Swinn in 2004.

His success in the prelims also gained Masei a spot in the championship finals, which will feature the top eight swimmers in each event.

Joining Masei in the championship finals for Willamette will be Alex Guffey (So., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS), who registered the fifth-fastest prelim time in the men's 100-yard freestyle, as he was clocked at 47.79 seconds.

It will be the second trip to the top finals this weekend for Masei and Guffey. On Saturday, Masei was fourth overall in the 100-yard backstroke, while Guffey took fifth in the 200-yard freestyle.

Masei will be part of a very talented 200 backstroke final. The top seed, Wesley Walton of Whitworth University, set an NWC record in the prelims at 1:48.45, breaking the old mark of 1:49.87 set in 2003 by Ryan Freeman of Whitworth. Cody Hartman from Pacific Lutheran University was second in the prelims at 1:53.14, just 0.68 in front of Masei.

Also advancing to the championship final in the 200 back were Nic Win from Whitman College, Anthony Fish of Whitworth, Teale Kitson from the University of Puget Sound, Corban Elliott of Pacific Lutheran and Leland Rivers of Linfield College.

Sam Starr of Whitman attained the top time of the men's 100 freestyle prelims at 46.28 seconds. Keven Henley of UPS also broke the 47-second mark at 46.66. The next six finishers -- all advancing to the championship finals -- earned times between 47 and 48 seconds. They were Brian Ruggles of PLU, Mitch Kilgore of UPS, Guffey from Willamette, Clayton Jacobson from UPS, Alex Nowjack of PLU and Callum MacKintosh from Whitworth.

Several Bearcats qualified for the consolation finals on Sunday by finishing ninth through 16th during the prelims. All of the qualifiers reduced their seed times -- a few by at least three seconds.

Michaela Zuber (So., Sacramento, CA/Sheldon HS) reached the consolation final in the women's 200-yard backstroke. She achieved a time of 2:14.15, more than five seconds off her seed time. She placed 12th in the prelims.

Erin Parkinson (Sr., Everson, WA/Ferndale HS) reduced her seed time by 3.38 seconds in the 200-yard breaststroke for a time of 2:33.15 and 12th place in the prelims.

In the prelims of the men's 200-yard breaststroke, Chris Whitehead (Sr., Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS) was 14th at 2:17.48. He also made significant improvement over his seed time of 2:25.12.

The consolation final in the women's 200-yard butterfly will include Malia Santos (So., Kailua-Kona, HI/Kealakehe HS), who gained a time of 2:21.55 for 14th place in the prelims.

Two Bearcats advanced to the consolation final in the men's 200-yard butterfly. Dan Aki (Fr., Union City, CA/James Logan HS) was 12th in the prelims at 1:59.05, as he broke the 2-minute mark for the first time at Willamette, and Andrew Lum (So., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School) was 13th at 2:04.27.

A pair of WU swimmers narrowly missed the finals, as Alex Burkhart (Jr., Los Gatos, CA/Los Gatos HS) was 17th in the men's 200-yard breaststroke at 2:20.93 and Zander Le Bel (Jr., Dallas, TX/Richardson HS) was 18th in the 100-yard freestyle in 49.38 seconds. Both are alternates in case one or more swimmers is scratched from the finals.

In the men's 1,650-yard freestyle and the women's 1,650-yard freestyle, all of the swimmers except for the top eight seeds in each event swam in the morning.

Shelby Merrill (Fr., Thousand Oaks, CA/Westlake HS) of WU recorded the top time so far in the men's 1,650 freestyle at 16:59.11. He will finish at least ninth overall, but could move up pending results in tonight's last heat. Hope Nelson (Jr., Providence, RI/South Kingstown HS) of Willamette put in the third-best time of the morning in the women's 1,650 freestyle, as she was clocked at 18:50.45. She will end the day in at least 11th place.

RESULTS FROM PRELIMS

2014 Northwest Conference
Swimming Championships
At Federal Way, Wash.
Feb. 14-16, 2014

3rd Day Prelims

Note:  Results in the men's and women's 1,650-yard freestyle do not include the top eight seeds, who will swim tonight.

NWC Championship
Website

Alika Masei set a Willamette record of 1:53.82 in the men's 200-yard backstroke during the prelims of the NWC Championships. He was third in the prelims and qualified for the championship final.

Alika Masei set a Willamette record of 1:53.82 in the men's 200-yard backstroke during the prelims of the NWC Championships. He was third in the prelims and qualified for the championship final.