SALEM, Ore. – The Lewis & Clark Pioneers took on the Willamette Bearcats Friday at Sparks Sports Center in a Northwest Conference dual. It was the first dual for the Pioneers since Nov. 12, and the first swim meet since Dec. 4. The women came out with a 121-84 point win, while the men were behind 70.5-134.5 at the end of the meet.
August Bergh finished two events with first place win berths of less than a second, while Kometani grabbed two more first place wins.
In the first event, Samantha Duran had a strong lead going into the second stretch when she handed off to Katie Kulp. Lucia Brammer kept the lead in her butterfly, leaving a half of a length lead for Eleanor Gerrior to finish off. The Pios ended with a time of 4:17.99, a full 11 seconds faster than the second place Willamette team. A tight race for fourth and fifth continued, with the Lewis & Clark team in lane one winning over the fifth place Willamette team by just over a tenth of a second.
In the men's medley, the Bearcat relay team was just ahead for the first leg, as Lewis & Clark's William Witmer was unable to make up lost time. Jackson was up next, swimming the butterfly, and passed off to Kevin Fox for the final leg. Eventually the Pioneers were only five seconds behind Willamette's team, with a time of 3:48.46. The other Pioneer relay team finished third.
In the women's 1000-yard freestyle, Natsuha Kajii had the early lead, with Emily Skaggs grabbing a slim lead for third place. After the 20-lap, 40-length race, Kajii came in first with a time of 11:27.72. She was a full 22 seconds ahead of the second place finisher. The Pios also grabbed third and fifth place in the event.
At the midway point of the men's 1000-yard freestyle, Berg was sandwiched by two Willamette swimmers, barely a stroke behind first, and barely a stroke ahead of third. With 10 laps left, Berg pulled ahead of both Bearcat racers, finish first with a time of 10:18.93.
"It's just fun to watch him [Bergh], what he does," said freshman Matt Jackson, "He puts in the work in practice and the last half of the race you can always see that he clearly uses the work that he puts in practice to his advantage."
Katie Kulp led half way through the women's 200-yard freestyle, and pulled off yet another win, with a time of 2:05.14. The men grabbed third, fourth and fifth in the men's 200-yard freestyle.
Kometani and Zac Oser both came in first in the women's and men's 50-yard freestyle, respectively. Kometani finished with a time of 24.57, while Oser finished in 22.88.
In the only tie of the night, Kevin Fox finished neck in neck with Ben Hedman of Willamette in the Men's 200-yard Butterfly. Gerrior placed in first for the women with a time of 2:27.40, half a second before her teammate, Brammer. This led to back-to-back wins for the women as Kometani sinched first in the Women's 100-yard freestyle in 56.45, and Duran won the next event.
In the women's 200-yard backstroke, Duran took the lead right off the bat, and built her lead in the following 150 yards of the race. She finished with a winning time of 2:17.44. Fourth and fifth place went to Lewis & Clark swimmers as well.
"It feels really good to know that winter training is really playing off," said Duran, "and I feel really ready for conference."
The Pioneers also finished big in the men's 200-yard backstroke. Zac Oser held an early berth, but ended up in second place with a time of 2:07.53.
In the women's 500-yard freestyle, Kajii led the field for the entire race, pulling out a first place finish with a time of 5:33.27.
Berg also took first place in the men's race, once again neck to neck with a Willamette swimmer. Going into the last 50 yards behind barely a stroke, Berg pulled ahead at the very end, grabbing first in 5:00.47.
Whitmer had the lead at beginning of the Men's 200-yard breast, but with 50 yards remaining, Willamette pulled ahead, with the Pios in second and third. Matt Jackson grabbed second place with a time of 2:21.48, Witmer in third by just four tenths of a second.
"I've been working on the breaststroke over winter training and I'm looking forward to what I can do in conference," said Jackson, "to me it [winter training] was a good thing, because it gave me to time to really bring me back in terms of racing and really focus on my stroke and I feel like that really paid off today."
Kometani looked to cut down Willamette's lead in the final leg of the 400-yard freestyle relay, pulling up behind the Willamette swimmer next to her in the last 50-yards of the race, pulling ahead after the final turn. The women's relay team pulled off a time of 3:53.67 for first place. Lewis & Clark also grabbed third and fifth place.
"We've been working really hard all season and its great to see it pay off, especially the two weeks over winter training," Duran said of the women's win, "We're ready for some more wins tomorrow."
Jackson agreed, saying, "Its a sprint meet so get up there and get fast right away, I expect to race anyone I'm next to and anyone on this team expects to do the same."
The Pio's return home on Saturday, taking on Linfield at the Zehntbauer Swimming Pavilion at 1 p.m.