For the 4 seniors in Washington State’s graduating class, Friday’s battle with the Oregon State Beavers was the last home meet of their careers, and their last chance to win at the Gibb Pool: something they haven’t done all year.
Even though the event victories were split, a huge advantage from a sweep of the two relays gave the Cougars that victory by a score of 148-114 on Friday in Pullman.
Tom Jager’s team came out with energy, and won the meet’s first relay, the 200 medley in a 1:44.35: their best time this season in a dual meet. That included a 23.47 anchor from Haley Love. The relay could have been ever better, as their B group took 2nd with a 23.29 from Nicole Proulx on their anchor: great hope for the Washington State sprint group.
Those two led off the Cougars in the meet’s final relay, the 400 free, as they won that by a significant margin as well: 3:29.44 to Oregon State’s 3:34.08.
For the first time in a while, the Cougars have a clearly-deeper dual-meet roster than the Beavers do. On the opposite side of that is the fact that the best individual swimmers at this meet still belonged to Oregon State, meaning that they’ll be in the driver’s seat in the fight for the 8th-place position at this year’s Pac 12 Championship meet.
Oregon State senior Crystal Kibby took three event victories on the day. First she won the 100 breaststroke in 1:05.57, which she followed with a 2:19.58 in the 200 breast to beat Washington State’s Presley Wetterstrom by half-a-second. Kibby would finish the meet with a three body-lengths win over the field in the women’s 200 IM in 2:07.19.
Joining her with multiple wins for the beavers was sophomore Sammy Harrison: the team’s lone NCAA qualifier last season, and their best shot at the same this season.
Harrison took easy wins in the 1000 free (9:57.87) and 500 free (4:59.03), sandwiching a runner-up placing to Washington State’s Proulx (1:52.77) in the 200 free.
Washington State also had two swimmers take two wins a piece. In the women’s 100 free, Proulx matched up with her teammates Love and Anne Kenney with a 51.58 second win as part of a Cougar 1-2-3 finish. Love topped the 50 free in 23.90, leading another 1-2-3 Cougar run.
The sprint freestyles have become the star group for Washington State: taking on the mold of their leader Jager, who had 7 Olympic medals in his competitive career, all swimming 50 or 100 freestyles.
Washington State’s other double winner was Emma Johansson, who won both the 100 back (56.00) and 100 fly (55.62).
Though it was their last home meet of the year, Washington State isn’t done with the Pac-12. They will travel to swim an out-of-conference meet against BYU on February 7th, and then visit Utah on February 8th. Utah will be a good benchmark meet for the Cougars headed into Pac 12′s, as they finished 7th at the conference meet last year but are performing extremely well in the 2013-2014 season.
Oregon State wraps their Pac-12 schedule with this meet. Their two remaining competitions are Saturday across the border against Idaho, Jager’s former team, and then a week later against Boise State.