Author: Ryan Graff
The women’s 200-yard medley relay A team, comprised of Caroline Chang (junior), Emily Watkins (sophomore), Lizzy Kosin (first-year) and Lauren Ransom (senior) started off the swim meet on Saturday with a dominant performance over Redlands and the women’s team never looked back on its way to a 170-128 victory over its SCIAC rival.
The “A” team recorded a 1:51.55, good enough for third best in team history and a top-25 NCAA Division III time for this year. The B team, consisting of Lauren Poppenhagen (first-year), Gabby Hanna (sophomore), Yuca Kosugi (junior) and Alena Morris (senior) rallied from down to post a time of 1:55.5 to out-touch Redland’s A team and capture a one-two finish for the black and orange in the event.
Watkins swam the breaststroke leg of the A medley relay team and has high hopes for her teammates as they progress through the season. “I want us to get first or second at SCIACs, since we got third last year,” she said. “We can all still improve, but we were competitive enough to win and be a threat by the end of season at SCIACs and hopefully at Nationals.”
Jessica Robson (junior), also has her sights set on qualifying for the NCAA Championships in Texas next Spring. The Tigers’ lone female diver kicked off the weekend of aquatics competition on Friday afternoon at the Rose Bowl where she won both boards for Occidental. She built upon her undefeated streak from last season, posting scores of 251.35 and 262.40 in the 1-meter and 3-meter events, respectively. Both scores were less than four full points off of NCAA Regional Qualifying scores.
“I’m definitely hoping to achieve a [NCAA] qualifying score before SCIACs,” Robson said. “But my goal for the season is to stay undefeated. This was a very good start to the season and I hope I will only get better.”
Kosin was the Tigers’ high scorer in the pool, winning the 200-yard fly (2:14.27), 100-yard fly (1:00.76) and 400-yard individual medley (4:49.57) on her way to top ten program times in all three events. She also led the Tigers to sweeps in both the 100-yard and 200-yard butterfly events along with Kosugi and Morris.
“I was really happy with my swims against Redlands,” Kosin said. “The amount of enthusiasm inside and out of the pool was incredibly motivating and I only know there is just going to be continued improvement.”
With a time that was just off the NCAA B Qualifying Standard, Chang (1:06.42) teamed up with Watkins (1:08.40) and Hanna (1:10.95) to earn a sweep in the 100-yard breaststroke. Hanna (2:32.23) and Watkins (2:32.31) went on to take a one and two finish in the 200-yard breaststroke as well.
First-year Rebeca Fernandez, the Tigers’ distance freestyle specialist, rounded out the day for the women, winning the 500-yard freestyle in 5:29.40 and the 1,000-yard freestyle in 11:20.67.
While the men’s team, which lost 177-110, did not fare as well as the women, they greatly improved upon last year’s results in which the Bulldogs won by 125 points and won all but one event. This time around, the men were able to halve the deficit and win four events on the day.
Sophomore Steven van Deventer stole the show for Occidental, winning the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events in 1:00.63 and 2:13.96, respectively. A pair of first-years also recorded wins for the men, as William Westwater won the 200-yard backstroke with a time of 2:08.45 and Alexander Najarian won the 50-yard freestyle with a 22.02. Westwater also finished second in the 100-yard backstroke with a 59.02 and Najarian took second in the 100-yard fly to Redlands All-American Jeff Depew (sophomore) with a 53.02, good enough for the eighth best time in Tiger history.
The men’s side also had several other podium finishes. Jack Sinclair (sophomore) took second in the 100-yard freestyle (50.11) and third in the 200-yard freestyle (1:53.97). Additionally, Kevin Kuwata (sophomore) finished third in both the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke events with times of 1:02.24 and 2:24.42 and Spencer Whalen (senior) finished third in the 500-yard freestyle at 5:32.82.
Both the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will return to action on Jan. 5 at Caltech. Dive will commence at 10:30 a.m. and swimming will follow at 11 a.m.
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