Pioneers can't grab win in dual against Linfield

Pioneers can't grab win in dual against Linfield

PORTLAND, Ore. –- The Lewis & Clark Pioneers returned to the pool for the second time in as many days, taking on the Linfield Wildcats in a dual at Zehntbauer Swimming Pavilion. The men were unable to grab a win, falling 139-63 to the Wildcats, while the women battled it out until the end, eventually losing, 111-94.

It was the first home meet for the Pioneers since Nov. 12.

"It feels really good [to be home], especially after over a month and a half of not competing and not competing here," said freshman Sam Raphael. "It was nice to be home. Unfortunate that things didn't go quite our way for both the guys and our girls, but it's nice to be back."

Although the women didn't get the finish they wanted, they fought hard in all their races. Natsuha Kajii grabbed the first win for the Pioneers in the 200 Freestyle, finishing in 2:01.41.

The women continued their freestyle dominance going into the following events.

"Winning the women's 200 and 50 back-to-back kept us in contention on the women's side," said head coach Chris Fantz. The women's 50 Freestyle was a tight race full of flying water and quick breaths, as Kassie Kometani pulled ahead for the win, swimming a 25.29-second race. The men's race was also tight, with William Witmer and Zac Oser neck-and-neck with Linfield's Matthew Hanson next to them.

In the women's 400 Individual Medley, first place went to Evette Dow of Linfield in 4:42.74, while the Pioneers' Katie Kulp finished second with a time of 4:57.44. Only three men swam the 400 IM, with Kevin Fox the only swimmer for Lewis & Clark in the event. He grabbed second place with a time of 4:35.68.

After the first 10 events, the Pios were down 52-38 for the women and 64-26 for the men. As Fantz said at the break, "Continuing to focus on solid middle and back halves of our races as we continue into the meet will be important."

In the 13th event, Kometani was a stroke ahead of Linfield's Erin Nelson in the women's 100 Freestyle, winning with a time of 56.00 seconds. Oser also came out with a win, posting a time of 50.98.

In the first heat of the women's 100 Backstroke, Lewis & Clark's Samantha Duran swam her way to second place, sandwiched by Linfield's Molli Hartzell and Tahni Kakazu in first and third, respectively.

Competing in the women's 500 Freestyle, Kajii lost ground in the final two laps, unable to catch up to Dow. Kajii finished with a time of 5:27.56, in second place, almost a full six seconds faster than her time on Friday at Willamette. Lewis & Clark's Matthew Bress and Jon Torres finished in third and fourth, respectively, on the men's side, with Bress finishing in 5:22.74.

In the women's 200 Freestyle relay, Lewis & Clark's anchor, Kometami, edged her way past the Linfield's anchor to grab first place for the Pioneers. Kometani was joined by Claire Greene, Eleanor Gerrior and Duran. The men came in third place.

"It felt amazing [to win]," said Gerrior. "We love going out strong and just finishing even stronger. Kassie did a good job pulling it together. I think are really good at that as a team."

Lewis & Clark looks improve upon Saturday's result heading into the Northwest Conference Championships on Feb. 10-12.
"Powering through, just making sure I have a strong kick for my races," said Raphael when asked what he's focusing on. Fantz also mentioned this was a priority, and something that would carry the teams to success in longer races.
 
The Pioneers return to Zehntbauer Swimming Pavilion on Saturday to take on Pacific at 1 p.m. for Senior Day.