AQUAMAN: The story of a Pirate that almost never was

Junior Wes Walton is one of the most decorated swimmers on the Whitworth men’s swim team. He has already won eight individual Northwest Conference Championships during his three years at Whitworth and holds two individual school records in both the 200 backstroke and the 200 individual medley. He is now heading to the NCAA DIII Championships for the second year in a row. However, despite the ways in which he is thriving now, Walton actually left Whitworth as a freshman with no initial thoughts of coming back. In his first year at Whitworth, Walton said he was having trouble academically and did not know whether or not he was going to make it at Whitworth.

“Freshman year I really kind of sucked at school and had to take a year off of swimming. I transferred to Boise State thinking, ‘I don’t know if I can do this at Whitworth’ and stuff like that.’ So I went to Boise State, didn’t swim for a year and that’s how I got an extra year of eligibility,” Walton said. “I just took a year off and realized I wasn’t supposed to be in engineering like I was, switched to kinesiology at Boise, wanted to go back to Whitworth and here I am.”

Head Coach Steve Schadt ended up being a guiding voice in helping Walton get back on the right path for his life, but said Walton’s problems were complex.

“He had to figure out why he was in college and why he wanted to swim and if he was in the right major and he had to figure out the academic side of things. He was finding himself as a lot of freshman do,” Schadt said.

Due to this period in Walton’s life, Schadt said Walton has changed for the better.

“When he came back to us, he came back to us as a much more mature guy because he had gone through a lot of those life struggles that everybody has to go through,” Schadt said. “The Wes you see today as a junior is very different from the Wes as a freshman.”

Walton thrived from the start in his return to Whitworth. He took home NWC individual championships in his first year and made it to nationals in his sophomore athletic year. Walton, who was competitive from the outset, said practices are even an opportunity for him to compete.

“Even on stuff that’s not supposed to be race-pace, I always find myself racing everyone anyways. I don’t know why, it’s just what I do,” Walton said.

Freshman Jason Smith said Walton has been very friendly toward other members of the team and that Walton’s attitude in practice is a good one to be around.

“He always has a positive attitude about practice and he doesn’t complain when sets are hard. He encourages others when they need encouraging,” Jason Smith said.

Schadt said Walton’s competitive attitude in practice is something Walton has developed in the last few years.

“He’s always going to be ultra competitive, but I think as a freshman it was about results and stuff like that and as he’s matured as an athlete. I think he’s still hypercompetitive but he’s learning to enjoy the process that goes along with that and the day-to-day and the practices and the swimming,” Schadt said.

After a multitude of struggles in Walton’s first few college years, Schadt said he saw what he thought was Walton’s highest point, last spring.

“He saw 180-degree turnaround from his freshman year,” Schadt said. “He ended up being an NCAA qualifier and an Academic All-American and he was so excited about that. That Academic All-American was important, if not more important than being a national champion. He was just stoked about that, and worked really hard to get to that point. For him, I think that was vindication of where he had been before because he had to struggle to get there.”

After 12 consecutive NWC Championship seasons for the men’s team, Walton knew with the loss of a few members of the team that this year, things were going to be close.

“For me personally, I knew that if it was going to happen, it was going to happen this year,” Walton said.

Walton had a spectacular meet by winning all three of his individual events. He broke his own NWC record in the 200 backstroke after previously winning the 200 and 400 yd I.M. After Whitman’s team took the lead on Sunday and came away with the overall victory, Walton said he felt he could have gone a bit faster, even in record-setting 200 backstroke.

“I’m always super competitive and I’m always trying to go faster and faster so if I feel like I trained hard enough and the results don’t show it then I’m a little bit upset,” Walton said. “I’m always trying to go back to the races in my head and think how I could have done something different to go a bit faster.”

Walton will finish his third season at the NCAA DIII Championships in Shenandoah, Texas on March 19-22.

 

Connor Soudani

Sports Editor

Swimming wins in haphazard quadrangular meet

After spending more than 10 hours on a bus, the Whitworth swim teams pulled off a win in a quadrangular swimming meet against Whitman, Pacific and Lewis & Clark on Saturday afternoon. Because of a traffic accident on I-84, a potential six-hour drive turned into a 10-hour drive that delayed the Pirates, forcing them to be late for their meet against Pacific. On top of that, Whitman was also late to its own meet against Lewis & Clark because of the traffic. Therefore, both meets were canceled and a quadrangular meet was held instead.

“We came from a very non-ideal circumstance after a long drive. We didn’t expect to race Whitman, we weren’t prepared for it, but we were able to rally and win the meet, so I call it a success,” junior Bridget Louis, the winner of the 400-yard individual medley in a time of 4:49.81, said.

Another win for the Pirate women came from sophomore Jerusha Dressel in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:10.50.

The Pirate women edged Whitman, 108-88, won against Pacific, 106-90 and defeated Lewis & Clark, 133-61.

For the Pirate men, freshman Brandon Smith took the 1,000-yard freestyle in a time of 9:58.26 and the 500-yard freestyle in 4:54.78. In addition, junior Wes Walton won the 400-yard individual medley in a time of 4:13.73. Freshman Jason Smith won the 100-yard backstroke in 53.37 while junior Kyle Wicks won the 100-yard breaststroke in 59.51.

Moving from a dual meet to a quad meet was unexpected for the teams, senior Wes Tatum said.

“It was a weird meet, quad meets are scored differently. In a dual meet, depth can be used to win the meet, whereas in a quad meet having one or two all-star swimmers make the difference between winning and losing,” Tatum said.

The Pirate men edged Whitman, 100-96, won against Pacific, 118-76 and overcome Lewis & Clark, 147-35.

The Whitworth teams knew it was going to be hard, especially competing with the Whitman team, who has the national champion in the 100-butterfly along with other skilled swimmers in other events, Tatum said.

“Staying mentally strong and mentally tough [helped],” Dressel said. “I was pretty tired on Saturday, physically from the school, but still put my best into the race and to my events.”

Whitworth swim teams continue competition on Dec. 5 at the Husky Invitational.

 

Jessica Razanadrakoto

Staff Writer

Swimming swamps competition at home

The Whitworth Pirates’ swimming teams won their only two home meets of the season against the Willamette Bearcats on Friday night and against the Linfield Wildcats on Saturday afternoon. Similar to last season’s meet, the Pirates swept the Bearcats with the Pirate women winning 10 of the 11 events, outscoring them 144-60. In addition, the men seized all 11 events instead of 10, blowing Willamette out of the water, 155-49. The performance the next day was more of the same against Linfield where the Pirate women won 136-69 and the men won 164-41.

“Racing the teammates and working hard these past couple of weeks [were key],” sophomore Logan Streit said.

The Pirate men took both relays on Friday night. Juniors Wes Walton, Kyle Wicks, Lucas Lin and senior Wes Tatum won the opening 200 yard medley relay with a time of 1:35.98, while Walton, Wicks, Lin and senior Callum MacKintosh won the closing 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:27.80.

The Pirate women freshman Jane Holmes, sophomore Jackie Beal, junior Bridget Louis and senior Alisa Stang took the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:53.74. Freshman Makayla Barringer, Holmes, sophomore Jerusha Dressel, and Stang won the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:42.68.

“We had a lot of girl freestylers in the sprint events that dropped a lot of time and that was an area we needed to improve,” Schadt said. “There were five or six women that all improved in that area from where they were a couple of weeks ago.”

Junior Malia Santos took the Bearcats’ only victory in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.83.

“We’ve been training really hard and I’ve been working on a few key things with my speed,” Walton said. “For my freestyle, I was working on the correct underwater distance to swim before I came up to the surface.”

The Pirates’ main goal for the season is to take home the top spots in each event in the conference meet, and the Pirates proved they were capable after this weekend, Streit said.

On Saturday afternoon, freshman Patrick Wilbur led a 1-2-3 finish for the Pirates in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:48.64, junior Kevin Moore led another one in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:55.11, and junior Trevor Case led the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:14.10.

“We all stepped up and tried to go 1,2,3 for all the events, [which] we did very well, so I hope we continue the momentum,” Streit said.

Walton, Tatum, Case and Wicks took the first 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:33.48, ending with the closing win of the 400-yard freestyle relay led by Wilber, Streit, Lin and Mackintosh.

The Pirate women won the opening 400-yard medley relay and all nine individual events.

“I really love relays, they’re my favorite parts of swim meets,” Dressel said. “When I dive into the water, I’m not just swimming for myself, but for the other three girls.”

Wildcats sophomore Rita Cohen, Elizabeth Fry, Erin Nelson and Nikki Overton took Linfield’s only victory in the closing 400-yard freestyle relay (3:46.18 – 3:46.64).

Eight different swimmers combined to win all nine individual events on both days. Streit took first place in the 200-yard freestyle (1:47.49) and the 100-yard Freestyle (49.12) on Friday night, while Walton was the double winner for both the 200 yard individual medley (1:57.49) and the 200 yard backstroke (1:55.05) on Saturday afternoon.

Both Pirate teams improved to 2-0.

Whitworth Pirates travel to Pacific next Friday, Oct. 14 and Lewis & Clark on Saturday, Oct. 15 for their next competition.

 

Jessica Razanadrakoto

Staff Writer

Swimming swamps competition at home

The Whitworth Pirates’ swimming teams won their only two home meets of the season against the Willamette Bearcats on Friday night and against the Linfield Wildcats on Saturday afternoon. Similar to last season’s meet, the Pirates swept the Bearcats with the Pirate women winning 10 of the 11 events, outscoring them 144-60. In addition, the men seized all 11 events instead of 10, blowing Willamette out of the water, 155-49. The performance the next day was more of the same against Linfield where the Pirate women won 136-69 and the men won 164-41.

“Racing the teammates and working hard these past couple of weeks [were key],” sophomore Logan Streit said.

The Pirate men took both relays on Friday night. Juniors Wes Walton, Kyle Wicks, Lucas Lin and senior Wes Tatum won the opening 200 yard medley relay with a time of 1:35.98, while Walton, Wicks, Lin and senior Callum MacKintosh won the closing 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:27.80.

The Pirate women freshman Jane Holmes, sophomore Jackie Beal, junior Bridget Louis and senior Alisa Stang took the 200 medley relay with a time of 1:53.74. Freshman Makayla Barringer, Holmes, sophomore Jerusha Dressel, and Stang won the 200 freestyle relay with a time of 1:42.68.

“We had a lot of girl freestylers in the sprint events that dropped a lot of time and that was an area we needed to improve,” Schadt said. “There were five or six women that all improved in that area from where they were a couple of weeks ago.”

Junior Malia Santos took the Bearcats’ only victory in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.83.

“We’ve been training really hard and I’ve been working on a few key things with my speed,” Walton said. “For my freestyle, I was working on the correct underwater distance to swim before I came up to the surface.”

The Pirates’ main goal for the season is to take home the top spots in each event in the conference meet, and the Pirates proved they were capable after this weekend, Streit said.

On Saturday afternoon, freshman Patrick Wilbur led a 1-2-3 finish for the Pirates in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:48.64, junior Kevin Moore led another one in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:55.11, and junior Trevor Case led the 200-yard breaststroke with a time of 2:14.10.

“We all stepped up and tried to go 1,2,3 for all the events, [which] we did very well, so I hope we continue the momentum,” Streit said.

Walton, Tatum, Case and Wicks took the first 400-yard medley relay with a time of 3:33.48, ending with the closing win of the 400-yard freestyle relay led by Wilber, Streit, Lin and Mackintosh.

The Pirate women won the opening 400-yard medley relay and all nine individual events.

“I really love relays, they’re my favorite parts of swim meets,” Dressel said. “When I dive into the water, I’m not just swimming for myself, but for the other three girls.”

Wildcats sophomore Rita Cohen, Elizabeth Fry, Erin Nelson and Nikki Overton took Linfield’s only victory in the closing 400-yard freestyle relay (3:46.18 – 3:46.64).

Eight different swimmers combined to win all nine individual events on both days. Streit took first place in the 200-yard freestyle (1:47.49) and the 100-yard Freestyle (49.12) on Friday night, while Walton was the double winner for both the 200 yard individual medley (1:57.49) and the 200 yard backstroke (1:55.05) on Saturday afternoon.

Both Pirate teams improved to 2-0.

Whitworth Pirates travel to Pacific next Friday, Oct. 14 and Lewis & Clark on Saturday, Oct. 15 for their next competition.

 

Jessica Razanadrakoto

Staff Writer