FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- The Lewis & Clark Pioneers finished their final day of racing at the NWC Championships with a gold medal and a bronze medal, new school records, personal bests from a majority of the team, and a celebration of their seniors. The women's team finished in sixth overall with 344 points, while the men finished in fifth with 338 points.
With impending snow storms forecast for the evening, race officials changed the day four format to timed finals. Nine Pioneers started with the 1650 Freestyle, with Sabrina Murray and Alex Spiecker both finishing seventh overall in their respective races. Murray finished in 18:20.31 while Spiecker finished in 17:03.23, a career best. Matthew Bress ranked thirteenth with a time of 17:36.21, while Alys Chang took fourteenth in a time of 18:45.37, coming in first in her heat. Izzy Couch beat her seeded time by 18 seconds to take sixteenth while Anna DePaepe, Emily Skaggs, Claire Megna, and Grace Anderson came in twenty-fifth, twenty-seventh, twenty-eighth, and twenty-ninth.
In the 200 Backstroke freshman KK Fiddler took second in her heat with a career best time of 2:15.88 to place sixteenth overall. Julia Brandt and Anna Kates finished in twenty-sixth and twenty-ninth, both beating their seeded times. On the men's side, Kyle Monteleone took seventh overall with a time of 1:57.70. Ian Shepel was right behind him in ninth, breaking two minutes with a time of 1:59.11, a six second improvement over his seeded time. Senior Sam Bundenthal placed twenty-first with a six second improvement on his seeded time. Known for cheering his teammates on with an orange towel at every meet, Bundenthal raced with a cloud of friends standing behind his block waving orange towels.
The highlight of the meet was in the 100 Freestyle, where senior Kassie Kometani snagged the gold medal, touching just .15 seconds before her George Fox competitor. Kometani raced a time of 52.90, narrowly missing setting a new school record for the event. Of the win Kometani said, "It still feels surreal, but the best part was seeing all of my teammates on the side after I had finished. This win was for my whole team." Sophomore Andrew Butcher followed her with a bronze medal, beating his own school record by a second to finish in 46.45.
Caroline Karson took fifth place in a time of 53.44, while JP Greener and August Bergh finished in eighth and ninth, .04 seconds apart. Greener finished in 47.84 while Bergh finished in 47.88. Sam Raphael took nineteenth with a career best time of 49.68, while Claire Greene and Zac Lebovic finished in twenty-first and thirty-third respectively.
In the 200 Breaststroke, Ciara Orness took fifth with a four second improvement on her seeded time, swimming 2:27.91. Erin Khong was right behind her in ninth with a time of 2:32.11. On the men's side, William Witmer and Matt Jackson placed tenth and twelfth. Witmer finished in 2:13.24 while Jackson came in at 2:13.79.
The last individual event of the day was the 200 Butterfly where senior Eleanor Gerrior took ninth overall with a time of 2:15.80. Margot Chirayath beat her seeded time by four seconds to come in twentieth, while Matthew Bress set a new career best time of 2:00.11 to take thirteenth. Freshman Alex Spiecker took first in his heat by a commanding margin, placing eighteenth overall in a time of 2:06.40.
The championships ended with the 400 Freestyle Relay. Both the men's and women's teams came in fourth and set new school records. Seniors Eleanor Gerrior and Kassie Kometani, junior Sabrina Murray, and freshman Caroline Karson raced for the women, swimming a time of 3:34.86. Racing for the men were senior Augus Bergh, sophomores Andrew Butcher and Kyle Monteleone, and freshman JP Greener, who beat the year old school record by 2.46 seconds.
Senior Kassie Kometani took home the gold in the 100 Freestyle with a career best time of 52.90. Going into the Northwest Conference Championships, Kometani was ranked fourth in the conference for the 50 Freestyle and second in the conference in the 100 Freestyle.
Sophomore Andrew Butcher took home bronze in the 100 Freestyle. Butcher was ranked fourth in the conference in the 50 Freestyle and third in the conference in the 100 Freestyle. He beat his own school record to swim a career best time of 46.45.
Just before the final relays of the day, the conference celebrated its senior athletes with announcements and a presentation of gifts by each team. The Pioneers will see six seniors graduate this year including August Bergh, Sam Bundenthal, Eleanor Gerrior, Kassie Kometani, Claire Megna, and Anna DePaepe.
Day 3 - Finals
At the conclusion of day three of the Northwest Conference Championships, the Pioneers were able to walk away with two bronze medals and more broken records in what has been their strongest showing in finals racing in the competition so far. The women's team currently stands in sixth place with 231 points, while the men's team advanced back into fifth place with 219 points.
In the 100 Butterfly, Lewis & Clark earned their first medal of the night when Kyle Monteleone took third in a time of 50.90, beating both his preliminary time as well as the school record for the event set in the 1993-94 season. Eleanor Gerrior raced for the women, coming in fifth in a time of 58.28, also beating her qualifying time. Matt Jackson raced the consolation heat, placing thirteenth overall in a time of 53.54.
The Pioneers had three racers in the championship heats of the 200 Freestyle. Kassie Kometani and Sabrina Murray took fourth and sixth respectively, while August Bergh finished in seventh overall. Kometani finished in 1:54.83, beating her qualifying time, while Murray finished in 1:58.68, only .4 seconds out of fifth place. Bergh finished in a time of 1:44.94, adding him to the list of Pios who swam faster than their qualifying time.
The last individual event of the day was the 100 Backstroke. Kyle Monteleone and Ian Shepel made it to the championship heat placing fifth and seventh, while JP Greener took twelfth in the consolation heat. Monteleone raced a time of 52.15 with Shepel just on his heels in 53.80. Greener raced in 54.88. Greener and Monteleone both went on the race in the men's relay in the final event of the day.
The finals ended with the 200 Freestyle relay, in which the Pios nabbed their second medal of the evening when the men's team finished in third place. Consisting of Andrew Butcher, August Bergh, JP Greener, and Kyle Monteleone, the men competed in a tight race, finishing in 1:25.67, which breaks last year's record set by the same team, including Sam Raphael. They were only one second behind first place and .65 seconds behind Linfield, who took silver. On the women's side, Kassie Kometani, Eleanor Gerrior, Claire Greene, and Caroline Karson took fifth place beating out University of Puget Sound by just .04 seconds.
Kyle Monteleone raced in three championship heats and came away with two bronze medals. He placed third in the 100 Butterfly and the men's 200 Freestyle Relay.
Kassie Kometani and Eleanor Gerrior were the highest placing women for the Pioneers. Kometani placed fourth in the 200 Freestyle, while Gerrior placed fifth in the 100 Butterfly. This is their final time competing at the Northwest Conference Championships.
Day 3 - Preliminaries
The Pioneers had a strong start to day three of the Northwest Conference Championships, advancing 12 swimmers into finals. Erin Khong and Alys Chang were the first to advance in the 400 IM. Khong placed eighth in a time of 4:49.07 to head to the championship final, while Chang placed fourteenth in a time of 4:52.76 to head to the consolation final. Ana DePaepe, Claire Greene, and KK Fiddler raced the 400 IM and placed eighteenth, nineteenth, and twenty-fifth, respectively.
In the 100 Butterfly Eleanor Gerrior and Kyle Monteleone advanced to the championship heats while Matt Jackson qualified for the consolation final. Gerrior took third with a time of 58.34, only a second off of the first and second place finishers, while Monteleone also took third in a time of 50.92, setting a new school record for the event. Jackson placed thirteenth in a time of 53.57, just .03 seconds behind twelfth place. Margot Chirayath and Anna Kates also competed for the women but did not advance, while Caroline Karson had to face a heartbreaking disqualification for a false start after swimming a time that would have placed her in sixth in the championship heat. Sam Raphael and Zac Lebovic also competed for the men and placed seventeenth and twenty-sixth respectively.
Kassie Kometani, Sabrina Murray, and August Bergh were the next Pioneers to advance, racing in the 200 Freestyle. Kometani placed fourth just two seconds behind the first place finisher, with Murray right behind her in sixth. Bergh secured seventh in a time of 1:45.24. Izzy Couch, Emily Skaggs, Claire Megna, and Grace Anderson also raced for the women but did not advance. Couch and Skaggs finished within one second of each other. Andrew Butcher also raced for the men, but just missed out on qualifying in eighteenth place.
The 100 Backstroke was the final event of the morning and saw three Pioneers advance. Kyle Monteleone, Ian Shepel, and JP Greener placed second, sixth, and twelfth respectively. Sam Bundenthal, Julia Brandt, and Anna Kates also raced hard for the Pios, but did not qualify to swim again in the evening.
Day 2 - Finals
At the conclusion of day two of the Northwest Conference Championships, the Lewis & Clark Pioneers saw the women's team advance to fifth place with 137 points, while the men's team dropped back a place to sixth with 113 points.
The Pioneers had 10 athletes competing in the finals. Andrew Butcher secured the highest placement of the evening, coming in fourth in the 50 Freestyle in a time of 21 seconds. Butcher beat his time in the prelims, coming in .1 seconds behind third place in a race that saw fourth through fifteenth all finish within the span of one second.
Competing in the 500 Freestyle, Sabrina Murray took sixth in a time of 5:18.65, beating out a Whitworth competitor by one second. Seniors Kassie Kometani and Eleanor Gerrior competed in the 50 Freestyle, coming in sixth and seventh respectively, only .8 seconds apart and each less than a second behind the first place finisher.
Erin Khong finished in eighth place in her final with a time of 2:13.65, just edged out of seventh place by PLU. Freshman Caroline Karson finished first in the consolation final of the 50 Free, swimming a time that puts her in a strong position for the rest of the competition.
August Bergh finished in tenth place in the consolation final of the 500 Freestyle in a time of 4:47.72, which would have given him a shot at eighth place in the championship heat, while freshman JP Greener took eleventh in the 50 Free in a very competitive men's heat.
Rounding out the group of finals racers were Matt Jackson and Alys Chang. Jackson swam in the 200 IM, coming in fourteenth in a time of 2:01.30. He beat his prelim time by .08 seconds. Alys Chang placed fifteenth in her heat, which saw many finishers put up times that would have been competitive in the championship heat.
The Pioneers had five competitors in the championship heats including Sabrina Murray, Andrew Butcher, Kassie Kometani, Eleanor Gerrior, and Erin Khong. Andrew Butcher had the highest placement for the Pios, coming in fourth in his final.
Matt Jackson and Andrew Butcher both beat their preliminary times in their finals, while August Bergh and Alys Chang both swam times that were faster than swimmers in their respective championship heats.
Day 2 - Preliminaries
Heading into individual races on day two, the Pioneers had top 16 finishers in every event, sending five Pioneers to the championship heats of their events.
In the 500 Freestyle, Sabrina Murray qualified for the championship race with a fifth place finish and a time of 5:16.71. August Bergh and Alys Chang will head to the consolation race with respective ninth and fifteenth place finishes. Freshman Alex Spiecker just missed out on qualifying by two seconds with a seventeenth place finish. Izzy Couch, Anna DePaepe, Emily Skaggs, Claire Megna, Grace Anderson, and Matthew Bress all raced hard for the Pios but did not make it out of prelims.
In the 200 IM Erin Khong will race for the women in the championship heat, finishing prelims in fifth with a time of 2:12.04. Claire Greene fell just short of qualifying in seventeenth place, only two seconds behind her PLU counterpart in sixteenth and followed by Ciara Orness in twentieth, not even a full second behind her. For the men, Matt Jackson will compete in the consolation heat after a thirteenth place finish, the only Pioneer to compete in the men's event. Freshman KK Fiddler also competed for the Pios but did not make it out of prelims.
The Pioneers saw the most qualifiers in the 50 Freestyle event. Kassie Kometani and Andrew Butcher each secured a fourth place finish and Eleanor Gerrior nabbed sixth, earning them all a spot in the championship heats. Freshmen Caroline Karson and JP Greener came in tenth and eleventh respectively, earning them spots in the consolation heats. Just missing out on racing in the finals were Sam Raphael, Will Witmer, and Ian Shepel who finished within .14 seconds of each other in nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first. Margot Chirayath, Julia Brandt, Sam Bundenthal, and Zac Lebovic all raced hard but did not make it out of prelims.
Day 1 - Finals
The Lewis & Clark Pioneers saw strong performances in day one of the Northwest Conference Championships, breaking multiple school records in the 800 Freestyle Relay races. Heading into day two, the men's team sits in fifth place with 56 points overall while the women's team is in sixth with 52 points.
With only relays to race on Thursday evening, the Pioneers competed in the 200 Medley Relay and 800 Freestyle Relay. Both teams came in seventh place in the 200 Medley, with the women's team edging out George Fox by a second while the men held off Willamette by the same margin. The women placed fifth in the 800 Free while the men's team comprised of JP Greener, Kyle Monteleone, August Bergh, and Andrew Butcher narrowly edged out Willamette to take third.
Head Coach Chris Fantz said of the night, "This was an awesome start to competition for us tonight! All our relay swimmers did what they needed to do and they have fast splits to show for it. Breaking two school records through four events is quite a feat. All our 200 freestylers had to step up to break those records and they did it in commanding fashion. Both our freshman lead-off swimmers swam huge personal bests. Now we're looking forward to getting rolling in the morning with individual races."
KK Fiddler, Ciara Orness, Margot Chirayath, and Claire Greene competed in the 200 Medley relay to finish in seventh place, with a time of 1:53.88. The team of underclassmen beat George Fox by one second and finished ahead of Pacific by four seconds. On the men's side, Ian Shepel, William Witmer, Matt Jackson, and Sam Raphael finished only six seconds behind first place with a time of 1:38.83, topping Willamette by a second and Pacific by seven seconds.
In the 800 Freestyle, Caroline Karson, Kassie Kometani, Sabrina Murray, and Eleanor Gerrior finished in fifth with a time of 7:51.29, with the second through fifth place finishers all coming in one second behind each other. The men's team, comprised of JP Greener, August Bergh, Kyle Monteleone, and Andrew Butcher finished third in their race in a time of 7:02.05, topping Willamette by .23 seconds in an extremely tight finish.
- Both men's and women's 800 Freestyle teams beat school records. The men's team of Greener, Bergh, Butcher, and Monteleone beat a record held since 1988 by a full second, while the women's team of Karson, Kometani, Murray, and Gerrior beat a record set by their teammates in the 2017-18 season. Kassie Kometani was a part of the team that set the record in the previous season, making this her fourth school record in three years.
- Andrew Butcher took fourth in his final, beating his time in the prelims and coming in .1 seconds behind third place
- Sabrina Murray beat out a Whitworth competitor by one second to take sixth in the 500 Freestyle
- Five racers, including Eleanor Gerrior, Kyle Monteleone, Matt Jackson, Kassie Kometani, and August Bergh beat their preliminary qualifying times in finals on day three of competition
- Kyle Monteleone broke a school record for the 100 butterfly set in the 1993-94 season
- Andrew Butcher, August Bergh, JP Greener, and Kyle Monteleone competed in the men's 200 Freestyle finishing in 1:25.67, which breaks last year's record set by the same team including Sam Raphael instead of JP Greener
- On the final day of the Northwest Conference Championships, 26 athletes recorded season bests
- Andrew Butcher broke the record he set last year for the 100 Freestyle by .32 seconds
- Ciara Orness was only two seconds away from breaking the school record for the 200 Backstroke
- Both the men's and women's relay teams broke school records in the 400 Freestyle, with the men breaking a record set last year by 2.46 seconds
- Alex Spiecker beat his career best 1650 Freestyle by 34 seconds
- Senior Claire Megna dropped 23 seconds off her 1650 time - she was one of two athletes to improve by over 20 seconds in the mile event
Weather permitting, the Pioneers will head back up to Tacoma to compete in the Puget Sound Finale on Sat., Feb. 16, at a time to be announced.