WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- Whitman's Nancy Alexander provided the home crowd with a thrilling moment to remember Sunday night as the 2007 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships came to a close in the new Paul and Louise Harvey Pool in the Baker Ferguson Fitness Center.
Alexander, a junior and the defending NWC champion in the 200-yard backstroke, had plenty of competition in Sunday's finals. Earlier in the day, in fact, she posted only the fifth best time in the morning preliminaries.
Not to worry. With her Whitman teammates, coaches and fans roaring, Alexander quickly pulled into the lead and never faltered, posting a winning time of 2:09.31. She missed her Whitman school record by seven-tenths of a second, but her time met the provisional qualifying standard for the NCAA Div. III National Championships.
Alexander's triumphant defense of her NWC title was one of many Missionary highlights Sunday. The women's squad, in fourth place in the team scoring to start the day, rallied behind Alexander, Nora Feeney, Erin Pettersen and Mara Abbott to overtake Lewis & Clark and finish third in the eight-school field with 407 points, edging both Lewis & Clark (400) and Linfield (393).
The Missionary men, tied with Pacific Lutheran for fourth place at the start of the day, got strong performances from several swimmers to claim the fourth spot with 377 spots, beating the Lutes by 16 points at the end of the day.
Feeney, a senior, led a huge Whitman charge in the women's 200-yard breaststroke, placing second and setting a new school record with a time of 2:27.34. Her time also meet the provisional qualifying standard for the national championships.
Two of Feeney's senior teammates also qualified for the meet's championship finals in 200-yard breaststroke. Alexis Krupp placed sixth in a season-best 2:38.11 and Erica Sorensen was eighth in 2:43.37. In the event's consolation finals, the Missionaries picked up more points with sophomore Rhea Edelman placing 14th overall in a season-best 2:49.29 and senior Lisa Doane finishing 16th in 2:57.15.
Pettersen and Abbott, two juniors, placed third and fourth, respectively, in their events. Pettersen swam a season-best 2:12.44 in the 200-yard butterfly. Abbott, who missed fall semester training and swim meets while on foreign study in Mexico, finished the grueling 1,650-yard freestyle in 18:29.1, slicing nearly 30 seconds off her season-best time.
In the men's meet, freshman Eric Molnar placed third in the 200-yard butterfly and sophomore Ysbrand Nusse was fourth in the 200-yard backstroke to pace the Missionaries. Molnar's time, 2:02.78, moves him into fifth place on Whitman's top 10 list of best times for that event. Nusse's time was 2:00.33.
Sophomore Justin Hampton also swam in the 200-yard butterfly finals, placing fifth in a season-best 2:06.73. Freshman David Lee gave Whitman a second fifth-place showing with his 48.81 effort in the 100-yard backstroke. Junior Clint Collier added an eighth-place finish in the championship finals of the 200-yard breaststroke, posting a time of 2:19.52.
Freshman George Stanton sparked the Missionaries with gutty performances in two consolation finals. He won the consolation heat in the 200-yard backstroke, placing ninth overall in 2:05.42, a time that moves him into sixth place on Whitman's top 10 list. Stanton nearly won the 200-yard breaststroke consolation final as well, placing 10th overall in 2:22.71.
Senior Robert Street and sophomore Max Hennings placed in the 1,650-yard freestyle and swam in one consolation final each. Street was 10th in the 1,650-yard freestyle in a season-best 18:24.81 and 16th in the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:35.47. Hennings swam season-best times in placing 14th in both the 1,650-yard freestyle (19:19.90) and 200-yard butterfly (2:16.17).
Kendi Thomas, a first-year swimmer, made the consolation finals of the 100-yard freestyle, placing 12th in a season-best 57.91. Erica Sorensen, in addition to her eighth-placing showing in the 200-yard breaststroke, added a 13th-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke (2:22.96).
Danielle Alvarado, a senior, wrapped up her college career by placing 16th in the 200-yard butterfly in 3:04.33.
In Sunday's final events, the 400-yard freestyle relays, Whitman was fourth in the men's race and fifth in the women's event. Lee, Molnar, Collier and Nusse swam for the men, who finished in 3:19.15, losing third place to Whitworth by three one-hundredths of a second. Pettersen, Thomas, Alexander and Krupp were clocked in 3:47.10.
Dave Holden, Whitman Sports Information, (509) 527-5902