Bucs battle tough competition at Husky Invitational

Men’s relay performances highlight three-day meet in Federal Way, Wash.

by Megan John

Last weekend Whitworth men’s swim team competed at the 64th annual Husky Invitational in Federal Way, Wash. against 13 collegiate teams and several club teams. Whitworth faced stiff competition from teams including Grand Canyon University and University of British Columbia.

Whitworth’s relay teams posted season-best times in each race of the weekend.

“We hold ourselves to a high standard and to be a part of that you have to learn that when you get up on the blocks it’s not just about you anymore,” freshman Kyle Wicks said. “When you get up for a relay, everyone just performs that much better because they know their teammates are relying on them.”

The Bucs’ best finish in a relay was tenth-place in the 200 medley with Wicks, junior Aaron Vaccaro, and sophomores Wes Tatum and Callum MacKintosh swimming a time of 1:35.64.

Vaccaro, Wicks, Tatum and MacKintosh also finished 16th in the 400 medley with a time of 3:33.35.

Sophomore Jason Lemley joined Vaccaro, Wicks and MacKintosh in the 200 freestyle to post a 1:26.87 time and finish 12th right behind Whitman (1:26.79).

“We’ve got a pretty cohesive group and because of our depth we have a lot of options for the relays,” Vaccaro said. “We’ve been exercising a lot of different options and I think we’ve been finding some combinations that really work.”

The Pirates’ success continued on Saturday and Sunday in the 400 and 800 freestyle relays. Juniors Mitchell Beck, Luke Welle and Matt Brody, along with senior Nathan Ranno, finished 11th in the 800 free with a time of 7:02.85. Whitworth took 18th in the 400 free relay with a time of 3:14.01 from Vaccaro, Ranno, and juniors Andrew Sumnicht and Matthew Dangleis.

Whitworth qualified for three final swims on Saturday night. In the 100 butterfly, Vaccaro placed 24th in the C-final with 51.34 and Tatum finished 26th in the D-final with a time of 51.98. Vaccaro also qualified for the 100 backstroke and took 29th with a 53.23 finish, a lifetime-best by a couple seconds.

“We had probably 90 percent season-bests and a good number of lifetime-bests and we’re still kind of in training mode,” head coach Steve Schadt said. “I feel like our team raised their game and really went after it.”

Other season-bests included Beck’s 4:47.03 finish in the 500 freestyle and Sumnicht’s 1:58.47 finish in the 200 individual medley.

The Pirates also raced against Northwest Conference members Pacific Lutheran and Puget Sound, who they will swim against later this season.

“There’s a lot of good competition and it’s going to come down to the wire,” Wicks said. “It’s a lot of fun because it pushes you to your limits.”

The team is already thinking of how this big meet is preparing them for the rest of the season and Schadt is confident that the fierce competition will help push the Pirates to perform well at the national level.

“The times that we swam really sets us up well, and once we’re really on top of our game in conference we should definitely win,” Vaccaro said.

Whitworth’s next meet will be Jan. 12 against Seattle University.

Contact Megan John at mjohn16@my.whitworth.edu.

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