AUSTIN HILLIKER, Sports Editor
They came, they saw and they conquered. In just three short days, both the men and women swim teams of Pacific Lutheran University made quite the statement as they set 21 new school records on the weekend.
Records were set by both the men and women during the three day conference championship at the Osborn Aquatic Center in Corvallis, Ore.
The women took the crown, finishing first in the Northwest conference. They finished with 779 total points, the most points accumulated by a team in the last four years since Whitworth grabbed 817 points in 2011.
The women took first place in seven of 18 events, further supporting the Lutes were the undisputed back-to-back champions.
One standout performance took place during the women’s 1650 meter freestyle. Sophomore Erica Muller put up a time of 17:34.67, breaking a 24-year-old PLU record.
Junior Melissa Dean broke her own school record during the finals heat in the 100 meter freestyle, with a time of 52.36, placing her second overall in the event.
Junior Hanna Armstrong and senior Michelle Hogan competed in the same race, as Armstrong placed fifth with a time of 53.12 and Hogan finished sixth with a time of 53.95.
One of the last races was the most impressive performance for the women’s swim team.
The Lutes set a new school record and a NCAA ‘B’ qualifying mark in the 400 meter freestyle relay, as Armstrong, Dean, Hogan and first-year Shanell Sullenburger capped off the day and brought in a time of 3:30.86.
The men’s team took home a solid third place finish, as they ended the championships with 521.5 total points. They fell short to the second place Whitworth Pirates who claimed 641.5 points and the first place Whitman Missionaries would take home 697.5 points.
Despite not taking home the conference title, the men still had a lot to be proud of.
Sophomore Hunter Cosgrove took home a second place in the 1650 meter freestyle 16:13.18, which came up two seconds short of breaking the school record. The time was still an NCAA ‘B’ qualifying time.
Junior Joseph Bowley also recorded an NCAA ‘B’ qualifying mark, as he tied Trevor Case of the Whitworth Pirates, with a time 2:05.05 in the 200 meter breaststroke. While sophomore Matthew Wehr also set an NCAA ‘B’ qualifying time in the 200 meter butterfly with 1:51.3, placing him third overall in the event.
Sophomore Cody Hartman added himself to the list of outstanding performances as he also set a NCAA ‘B’ qualifying time of 1:52.58 in the 200 meter backstroke. Not only did he make the NCAA qualifying mark, he even broke the PLU record in the event, previously set by him last year.
The day was finally wrapped up as Bowley, Wehr, senior Basil Whaley and junior Brian Ruggles set another NCAA ‘B’ qualifying record in the 400 meter freestyle relay. They finished third with a time of 3:08.48.
It wasn’t just the players who brought home outstanding performances on the day. PLU coach Matt Sellman was named the NWC Women’s Swimming Coach of the Year. This award has been given to Sellman the last three years, making him the first coach in NWC history to do so.
The NCAA Division III Championships will be held in Shenandoah, Texas March 20. ◼︎