Harp Wins Fourth Consecutive SCIAC Athlete of the Year Honor; Redlands Swimming & Diving Takes Second at Conference Finale
Senior freestyle sprinter Tyler Harp (San Bernardino, CA) placed himself among the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's (SCIAC) all-time greats by earning his fourth consecutive Athlete of the Year accolade on Tuesday. What is most likely the conference's lone swimmer to accomplish such a feat, Harp spurred the University of Redlands swimming &diving men's team to a second-place finish at the SCIAC Championships by sweeping the 50 Free, 100 Free and 200 Free for the second straight season while contributing to various relays.
On the third and final day of conference competition, the men's team notched multiple victories, but it just wasn't quite enough to overtake Claremont-Mudd-Scripps Colleges' lead. Redlands wrapped up the championships with 812 points, which was 67 points behind the Stags. The women's crew finished the event with 567 points, placing them in second place ahead of Pomona-Pitzer Colleges. With the combination of the regular-season meets and the SCIAC Championships, Redlands finished third overall in the women's standings, while the Bulldog men took second.
Starting off the day for the men, freshman David Sekula (LaGrange, IL) and sophomore Patrick Wall (Ladue, MO) pieced together an impressive 2-3 punch in the 1650 Free. The runner-up, Sekula, earned his first career NCAA "B" cut after touching the wall in 16:15.11, while Wall posted a third-place effort with a time of 16:17.86.
After tallying two third-place marks in the first two days, freshman Jeff Depew (Naperville, IL) garnered his first SCIAC crown of the meet with a "B" mark of 1:49.66 in the 200 Back.
As previously mentioned, Harp clinched the 100 Free championship for the second straight season, uncorking a time of 45.14 to defend his title. Sophomore Clint Freeman (Brentwood, CA) became an All-Conference member with his third-place time of 46.13, which was just .13 seconds behind the runner-up.
During the most exciting race of the day, the Bulldogs put together a strong push in the 200 Fly, grabbing the two top slots amidst four record-breaking performances. Sophomore David Ortyn (Bainbridge Island, WA) found his stroke during the championships, dropping more than two seconds from his preliminary time to win the SCIAC title at 1:51.05. Junior Chris Depew (Naperville, IL) could not have been much closer as he notched a time of 1:51.07 to receive the silver.
The combination of Freeman, C. Depew, and senior Colin Gladys (Yorba Linda, CA) provided Harp with a one-second lead when going into the 400 Free Relay's final leg . This was more than enough for the fastest swimmer of the event to capture the final victory for the Bulldogs. The dangerous foursome registered a meet-record time of 3:03.11, earning the crew an NCAA "B" mark in the process.
The women's program saw success on the final day of competition as well, tallying a trio of top-three showings.
In the 100 Free, freshman Chandra Lukes (Escondido, CA) recorded a season-best time of 52.26 to finish as the runner-up.
UR's top breaststroke specialist, senior McKenzie Nakamura (Kenmore, WA) finished out her SCIAC career with a bronze in the 200 with a time of 2:26.79.
Clinching an All-SCIAC effort, senior Jenny Bates (Littleton, CO), junior Lindsey Zehner (Portland, OR), Lukes and freshman Margo Macready (Redlands, CA) merged together to provide a third-place time of 3:34.87 in the 400 Free Relay.
The Bulldogs now await the final list of qualifiers for the NCAA Championships, which take place on March 21-24 in Indianapolis, IN.