WALLA WALLA, Wash. – The Whitman College swim teams look to build on a rising tide of recent success as they prepare to launch another dual meet season.
The women’s team continued its march up the Northwest Conference ladder last season, placing third in the dual meet standings as well as in the conference championship meet. After absorbing relatively minimal losses to graduation, the Missionary women are poised for another strong season.
Meanwhile, the men’s squad remains on the small side, although five strong freshmen are ready to lay a new foundation for that program.
Jenn Blomme, named the NWC women’s coach of the year in each of the past two seasons, is back for her sixth year at the helm of both Missionary teams. Whitman dives into its dual meet season this weekend, traveling to Lewis & Clark College in Portland on Friday and to Linfield College in McMinnville on Saturday.
Senior Alexis Jinbo-Doran, junior captain Alexis Krupp and sophomore Nancy Alexander return to anchor a women’s roster that numbers an even two dozen.
Jinbo-Doran, back in the water after a one-year layoff, holds school records in the 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley (IM). Two seasons ago, Jinbo-Doran came ever so close to qualifying for the NCAA championships in both breaststroke events.
Krupp was Whitman’s points leader at the conference championships last winter, placing second in the 400-yard IM, fourth in the 200-yard butterfly, and fifth in the 200-yard IM. Krupp has school records within sight in all three events; she currently ranks second all-time in the 400-yard IM and third in both the 200-yard IM and 200-yard butterfly.
Alexander made an immediate impact last season as a first-year swimmer, setting new Whitman records in both backstroke events. At the conference championships, she placed second in the 200-yard backstroke and fourth in the 100-yard backstroke.
Erin Pettersen, who enrolled at Whitman at the semester break last year, also wasted little time carving her niche. She placed third in the 200-yard butterfly at the NWC championships, breaking the Whitman school record in the process. She added a fourth-placing showing in the 100-yard butterfly, clocking a time that ranks her third all-time at Whitman for that event.
Mara Abbott is a third sophomore who returns after a stellar first season. She placed fourth in the conference finals in the 1,650-yard freestyle in a time that moved her into fourth place all-time at Whitman. She added a ninth-place finish at conference in the 500-yard freestyle.
Nora Feeney, one of Whitman’s stronger and more versatile swimmers, will miss the first few months of the season while on foreign study. Feeney, who ranks in the Whitman Top 10 in six events, placed third and fifth in the 200-yard and 100-yard breaststroke races at last year’s NWC finals. Two years ago, she was third in the 1,650-yard freestyle and fourth in both the 400-yard IM and 500-yard freestyle.
Other contributors on the women’s roster include two seniors, captain Lila Little and Allison Boomer, and juniors Danielle Alvarado, Katharine Curles, Lisa Doane, Erin Phillips and Erica Sorensen. The sophomore class also includes Rhea Edleman, Emma Fulkerson, Ellen McCleery and Elizabeth Roberson.
Courtney Fitzpatrick might be the best of this year’s newcomers. Competing against a large field in last week’s NWC Sprint Pentathlon, Fitzpatrick placed 10th in the 50-yard butterfly. Also look for Chelsea Durfey to make a first-year impact in the freestyle sprints. Other first-year swimmers are Katie Acosta, Morgan Bach, Julia Leavitt, Fiona Taggart and Tally Teal.
The Whitman men’s team, which graduated a strong senior class last spring, has just two returnees in junior Robert Street and sophomore Clint Collier. Both are captains, but Street won’t return from foreign study until January.
A year ago as a freshman, Collier placed eighth in three events (200-yard IM, 100-yard breaststroke, 200-yard breaststroke) at the NWC championships. He ranks fifth all-time at Whitman in 100-yard breaststroke and seventh in the other two events.
Competing as a sophomore last year, Street placed 11th and 13th in the two IM races at the conference finals.
Swimming as freshmen this season are Chance Gray, Justin Hampton, Max Hennings, Ysbrand Nusse and Noel Sollom-Brotherton. In last week’s Sprint Pentathlon, Nusse finished 12th in the 50-yard freestyle and 13th in the 100-yard IM. Sollom-Brotherton placed 10th in the 50-yard backstroke.
This weekend’s two dual meets are the only such meets facing the Whitman swim squads this semester. The Missionaries will compete Dec. 2-3 the Northwest Invitational in Portland, Ore., before breaking for the holidays.
Whitman hosts its first dual meets of the season on the weekend of Jan. 13-14.