Year by Year: Men's Swim Team Balanced
News Release Date:
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
WALLA WALLA, Wash. -- To a greater extent than ever before in the Jenn Blomme coaching era, the Whitman College men's swim team features a remarkable balance of talent and depth in the three upper classes.
That mixture of talent and depth starts at the top, where captains Jamie Nusse and Nick Wood lead a strong senior class that also includes Chad Trexler, Brian Wakefield, Nate Wells and Eliot Stone.
Nusse has been knocking on the door of a NWC championship since his freshman year, when he placed fourth in three freestyle events.
As a sophomore, Nusse finished as high as second (200 freestyle) at the conference meet. A year ago, he placed third in all three of his freestyle races.
Nusse is No. 2 on Whitman's all-time best-times list in the four freestyle events ranging from 50 to 500 yards.
Wood was in the championship finals of three races last February, placing as high as third in the 200-yard breaststroke, an event where his best-time ranks him second all-time at Whitman.
Wood has finished seventh in the 400-yard individual medley (IM) in each of his first three trips to the NWC meet.
"Jamie and Nick are part of a big, talented senior class that will be hard to lose after this season," Blomme says.
"Each of the seniors has continued to get stronger every year. Look for more great performances from all of them.
"This group also seems well suited to balancing the academic and athletics sides of being a senior at Whitman. The academic work expected of our seniors is not easy."
Trexler, who holds the school record in the 200-yard breaststroke, has placed third and fifth in that event at the last two championship meets. He has also placed as high as eighth (twice) in the 400-yard IM.
Wakefield adds to Whitman's depth in the breaststroke and IM events. His top finishes at last year's NWC meet were 11th in 200-yard breaststroke and 15th in the 400-yard IM.
Wells has been another regular contributor to Whitman's point totals at the past three conference meets. He has placed as high as ninth in the 1,650-yard freestyle and 10th in the 200-yard butterfly.
Stone made a good showing in three events at last year's championships. He was 12th in both the 200-yard and 1,650-yard freestyles and 17th in the 500-yard freestyle.
The Whitman junior class is almost as large and just as talented as the senior contingent.
Chris Bendix, one of five juniors, holds the school record in the 1,650-yard freestyle and is second all-time at Whitman at 1,000 yards.
Bendix finished third in the 1,650 in each of his first two trips to the championship meet. He also finished sixth and eighth in the 500-yard freestyle and eighth and ninth in the 400-yard IM.
Two years ago, Mitchell Lee made his debut at the NWC championships by placing ninth in the 50- and 100-yard freestyles as well as the 100-yard breaststroke. A year ago, he was fifth in the 100 freestyle and seventh in the 50 free.
Matthew Liedtke staked his claim in his first two seasons in the butterfly and IM events. His best finishes at the conference meets have been sixth and eighth in the two butterfly events and 11th in the 200 IM.
Matt Rowett, while hampered by injury, has also made his mark in the butterfly and IM events. He placed ninth and 10th in the 200-yard butterfly in his first two trips to the NWC championships. He capped his sophomore season by placing ninth in the 200-yard freestyle and 10th in the 200 IM.
Ian Williams, the last of the juniors, contributed points in four different events in his first two championship meets. His best results have come in the 200-yard backstroke (11th), 1,650-yard freestyle (12th) and 200-yard IM (13th). Williams is on foreign study this fall and will rejoin the team in January.
"The junior class is a really solid group," Blomme says. "They're just great all-around swimmers. They are very smart swimmers who think about what they're doing in the pool. They execute well.
"They also train hard, have positive attitudes and support their teammates, and there's a lot of leadership developing in the junior class. That bodes well for the leadership we'll need a year from now."
Kevin Dyer, one of the most talented swimmers on the team, leads the sophomore class. He already holds school records in the 500-yard and 1,000-yard freestyles and ranks No. 2 at Whitman in the 1,650.
Dyer made a big freestyle splash at the conference championships last February, placing second at both 500 and 1,650 yards and fourth at 200 yards.
"Not everyone knew it, but from a physical standpoint, Kevin was limited a little bit last season," Blomme says. "He suffered a concussion during the Thanksgiving break, just as we were going into one of our hardest training periods of the season.
"So, Kevin the potential for a stronger season as a sophomore."
Paul Chang also returns after a strong freshman campaign that he capped at the conference championships by placing eighth in the 100-yard backstroke and 10th in both the 50- and 100-yard freestyle events.
"Paul looks stronger this season," Blomme says. "Like a lot of freshman, he had to make some adjustments a year ago. We expect to see good improvements from him this season."
Joey Gottlieb also showed good promise in the backstroke last year as a freshman, although he missed the conference championships because of injury and is on a leave of absence this semester. He's expected to rejoin the team in January.
"Joey is already a great swimmer, but he has the potential to be even better," Blomme says.
Adam Brayton, Andrew Roehrig and Tyler Hurlburt fill out the sophomore class. "All three have a lot of potential and continue to work hard," Blomme says.
Whitman's depth a year ago kept Hurlburt from competing at the conference championships, but Roehrig placed in two events, finishing as high as ninth in the 200-yard backstroke, while Brayton was 16th in the 100-yard freestyle.
Shunei Asao, a backstroker and freestyle sprinter from Cupertino, Calif., and Elliott Crane, a freshman from Seattle's Lakeside School, are the best of the freshmen.
"Shunei will help replace one of our key graduation losses in the backstroke, and he's probably on a par with our best returning sprinters," Blomme says. "It will be fun to see what Shunei can do once the racing starts."
Crane adds more quality depth in the freestyle sprints.
"Elliott is quite talented but at the same time still has a lot of untapped potential," Blomme says. "He's a great addition to the team both in the short- and long-term."
The other two freshman on the roster are breaststroker Jacob Gavin (Ashland, Ore.) and butterflyer Colin Orr (Everett, Wash.).
"Jacob and Colin are less experienced, but both are making tremendous strides," Blomme says. "I think they can make big time drops by the end of the season."
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CONTACT: Dave Holden
Sports Information Director
Whitman College, Walla Walla, Wash.
509 527-5902; firstname.lastname@example.org