SEATTLE, Jan. 31. THE Seattle University Redhawks entered their final home meet of the season facing
quite a few hardships, but produced a favorable result as a solid all-around team effort carried SU to a sweep of a very strong Whitworth team in front of an overflowing crowd Friday night at the Connolly Center
The Redhawk men (8-2) recorded a 1-2 sweep in the meet's final event, the 200-yard freestyle relay, to pull off a 109-96 victory for their 50th meet win in just the program's sixth year.
The SU women (8-3) rode the momentum of a 1-2-3 sweep in the 50-yard free to overcome an early deficit for a
117-83 victory to finish with their best dual meet record in team history as a packed house spilled into the athletic center hallways to cheer their team on.
"This was a great meet in terms of the victories in the situations the teams faced and the historical implications behind both wins," said SU head coach
Craig Mallery. "Both teams are of the character that whatever challenge is presented, they just don't give up. It has been a core value of the program, and this was another step in the accumulation of six years of development."
The men were without the normal double-meet first-place finishes of distance swimmer Sean Seaver (Sr., Ketchikan, Alaska/Ketchikan HS, Drury University),
who was up against the reigning NCAA Division III distance national champion. Seaver broke his team record in the 1650-yard freestyle with a time of 16:02.11, but it was not enough as Whitworth's Kevin Wang won the event in a pool record time of 15:59.73. Wang also edged Seaver in the 500-yard free by just over two seconds, finishing with a time of 4:39.86.
Without the first-place distance points on which they were counting, the Redhawks looked elsewhere for key contributions. Newcomer Rui Ewald (Jr., Santos, Brazil/Colegio Objectivo, Foothill College) provided an answer, capturing first in the 200-yard butterfly with a time of 1:54.55, establishing a new pool record.
Zach Mueller (Jr., Laramie, Wyo./Laramie HS) also stepped up, winning the 200-yard free in 1:46.06. Joe Laughlin (Sr., Albany, Ore./West Albany HS) and Jesse Shelton (Fr., Longview, Wash./Mark Morris HS) also came up with big results for the Redhawks. Laughlin took first on the 50-free with a time of 22 seconds flat, and Shelton won the 100-free in 47.92.
"We knew we need those wins. The wins for Zach and Rui were very big, to win such tight races," Mallery said.
"This meet helped distill the myth that swimming is such an individual sport. Tonight was an example of how it could not have been more team-oriented, with different people stepping up for a collective goal."
The men trailed 24-12 after the first two events, before Mueller's victory pulled them back to within five. Seattle captured its first lead of the meet
in the next event with the sweep in the 50-free. However, Whitworth powered back and tied the meet 94-94 heading into the final event. The Redhawks responded to the challenge however, with their 1-2 sweep in the 200-free relay.
Laughlin's victory highlighted a 1-2-3 sweep in the 50-free for the Redhawks. Shelton also led a 1-2-3 sweep in the 100-free. A total of five pool records were broken in the men's meet, four of them by Whitworth.
Wang set his second pool record on the evening in the 200-yard individual medley, finishing with a time of 1:55.86. Ryan Freeman, 1:54.76 in the 200-yard
backstroke, and Cory Bergman, 2:08.62 in the 200-yard breaststroke, also set pool records for the Pirates.
The big news for the Redhawks was Seaver's NCAA Division II national 'A' cut time in the 1650-free. Not only does he automatically qualify for nationals
in that event, but now the senior's 'B' cut times in other events also qualify him for the national meet. Seaver has met national qualifications in four events.
"The national cut for Sean was like a door opening for us," Mallery said. "The hurdle has been overcome. As conference nears, this is great for our team confidence. For Sean, he does not have to rest for conference; he can now focus on nationals."
The SU women had to overcome several illnesses to power their way to victory. They too were without regular first-place finishes, lacking the normal spark from sophomores Kristen Michener (Sacramento, Calif./
Loretto HS) and Merceda Rivera (Mountain View, Hawaii/
Elise Fischbach (Jr., Eugene, Ore./South Eugene HS) responded with two huge victories for the Hawks. She won the 200-individual medley in 2:15.91, just .3 seconds away from the pool record. She followed that up by finishing first in the 200-back in a time of 2:13.08.
"Elise was super," Mallery said. "She really stepped up for us tonight."
Megan Ackerman (Sr., Shoreline, Wash./Shoreline HS), Marion Gallagher (So., Everett, Wash./Cascade HS) and Kristin Johansing (Sr., Paso Robles, Calif./Paso Robles HS) also captured first-place finishes for the Redhawks.
Ackerman endured her way to a win in the 1650-free with a time of 18:35.73. Gallagher was a winner in the 50-free in 25.06, and Johansing took the title
in the 500-free with a time of 5:27.64.
The Redhawks trailed 29-23 after three events, but stormed back behind Gallagher's performance, sweeping the 50-free to capture the lead for good. SU won three of the six remaining individual events, but captured second place in five of those to earn valuable points. They finished the meet with a victory in the 200-free relay.
Kristin Satterfield and Serena Fadel each captured two victories for the Pirates. Fadel won the 200-breast in a pool record time of 2:23.71, the only record broken in the women's competition. She also was victorious in the 200-fly with a time of 2:12.57. Satterfield won the 200-free (1:57.44) as the only swimmer under the two-minute mark, and the 100-free (54.49).
"It was a great night for the swimmers and it really helps to have such a dynamic crowd," Mallery said. "To have that kind of local support from the parents and fans is all part of the equation that equals success.
In just six season, the SU swim program has produced 26 All-American athletes. Twelve male swimmers have combined for All-American recognition in 20 individual and 13 relay events. On the women's side, a total of 14
swimmers have combined for All-American honors in 12 individual and nine relay events. Seven swimmers have combined to earn nine Academic All-American awards in the program's illustrious history.
The Redhawks gear up for the Pacific Coast Conference championships Feb. 12-15 in Long Beach, Calif.