Bearcats Place Fourth in Two Events at NWC Relays in Tacoma

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

TACOMA, WASH. -- Willamette University competed at the Northwest Conference Relays on Saturday, Nov. 2 at the University of Puget Sound. The event featured women's relays and men's relays with three swimmers each, plus mixed relays that included two men and two women on each relay team.

All of the races were measured in meters since Puget Sound has a short course pool with metric distances.

The Bearcats achieved their top finishes in the men's 300-meter butterfly relay and the men's 300-meter medley relay, as Willamette took fourth place in both events. WU also garnered fifth place in several races.

Swimming for Willamette in the men's 300-meter butterfly relay were Andrew Lum (So., Honolulu, HI/Punahou School), Dan Aki (Fr., Union City, CA/James Logan HS) and Alex Guffey (So., Seattle, WA/Roosevelt HS).

Lum swam the first leg, with Aki on the second leg and Guffey on the anchor leg. They combined for a time of 3:10.86, as they finished roughly one-half second behind Pacific Lutheran University, which took third place in 3:10.34.

In the men's 300-meter medley relay, Lum repeated as the first swimmer, with Aki taking the middle leg and Alika Masei (Fr., Salem, OR/West Salem HS) swimming the third leg. Willamette's time was 3:18.18, more than two seconds in front of Pacific University, which placed fifth at 3:20.85.

WU swimmers Jessica Beach (So., Salem, OR/West Salem HS), Summer Elias (Jr., Elko, NV/Elko HS) and Erin Parkinson (Sr., Everson, WA/Ferndale HS) competed in the women's 300-meter breaststroke relay. The took fifth place with a time of 4:17.84.

Willamette also placed fifth in the men's 300-meter breaststroke relay. Chris Whitehead (Sr., Sherwood, OR/Sherwood HS), Joshua Bumgarner (Fr., Walla Walla, WA/Walla Walla HS) and Masei were timed at 3:43.92, as they barely missed fourth place. Puget Sound edged out the Bearcats for fourth by 0.13 with a time of 3:43.79.

Another fifth place finish went to Willamette in the men's 900-meter freestyle relay. Zander Le Bel (Jr., Dallas, TX/Richardson HS), Shelby Merrill (Thousand Oaks, CA/Westlake HS) and Guffey each went 300 meters for the Bearcats. Their overall time was 10:04.29, just 3.45 seconds behind Linfield in fourth place and only 1.25 seconds in front of Pacific Lutheran in sixth.

In the mixed 200-meter freestyle relay, WU earned fifth place with a time of 1:50.65. The Bearcats held off Pacific by 0.33, as the Boxers took sixth place at 1:50.98. Swimming for the Bearcats in the mixed relay were Merrill, Hope Nelson (Jr., Providence, RI/South Kingstown HS), Malia Santos (So., Kailua-Kona, HI/Kealakehe HS) and Guffey.

In the final combined standings of the NWC Relays on Saturday, Whitworth was in first place with 89 points. Whitman was second at 68, with Pacific Lutheran in third at 60. Puget Sound was fourth with 54 points, while Pacific was fifth at 29, Willamette was sixth at 19 and Linfield was seventh with 10 points.

"Both the men's and women's teams had solid performances this weekend," said Willamette Head Coach Leslie Shevlin. "The women had a fast showing at the sprint pentathlon (see Friday's story). The women had top 20 finishes in all of the 50-yard sprint events, and it was a great start for our women this season.

"The men finished the sprint meet well and came out of the gate strong in the relay meet," Shevlin added. "The men attacked each stroke relay and showed that they can perform as a team during back-to-back meets."

Willamette's dual meet season will start with action on back-to-back days. The Bearcats will host Whitworth in an NWC meet on Friday, Nov. 8 at 6 p.m. (PST). Willamette will also be at the WU Natatorium on Saturday, Nov. 9 to host NWC rival Whitman at 1 p.m.


NWC Relays
University of Puget Sound
Tacoma, Wash.
Saturday, Nov. 2

Sophomore Andrew Lum helped WU place fourth in the 300-meter butterfly relay and the 300-meter medley relay.

Sophomore Andrew Lum helped WU place fourth in the 300-meter butterfly relay and the 300-meter medley relay.