College Notebook: Whitworth’s Duvall claims NWC crowns

Hudson’s Bay grad preparing for D-III nationals

By Kurt Zimmer, Columbian Sports Reporter

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Kate Duvall cares more about the team aspects of swimming than individual matters.

The Whitworth University sophomore claimed victories in the 100- and 200-yard backstroke events at last weekend’s Northwest Conference championships in Federal Way, and was second in the 500 freestyle.

She also helped the 400 and 800 freestyle relays to conference championships, and the 400 medley relay to a runner-up finish.

“I love relays,” the Hudson’s Bay High School graduate said. “I love relays way more than I love swimming individually. The energy is so much higher for relays.

Everyone gets so much more pumped, and I love racing -- so when it comes down to it, it’s like if we’re close to somebody else and I feel like I can catch them, I’m going to catch them because I love racing relays.”

Whitworth’s 400 medley relay team -- Melissa Barringer, Samantha Smith and Alisa Stang with Duvall, who swims the backstroke leg -- finished second to Puget Sound in 3 minutes, 53.36 seconds.

That would have been a meet record, except the Loggers finished in 3:52.54. The Whitworth quartet later swam the event as a time trial -- an extra opportunity to post a national cut time with nobody else in the pool -- but did not improve the time. The team could still qualify for the NCAA Division III national meet on March 21-24 in Indianapolis, depending on what happens at other upcoming conference meets.

That is also where Duvall stands individually in the 200 backstroke.

An All-American in the event last year, she is just short of an “A” cut, or automatic qualifier, but well under the “B” cut as a provisional qualifier. She is currently ninth on the NCAA-III best times list, with at least twice that number expected to qualify after other conference meets conclude.

Duvall won the event by 4.75 seconds in a meet record time of 2:03.50, but she was not thrilled about her time. Making the race more difficult was the fact that it was about 10 minutes after the medley relay’s time trial.

“It was pretty quick turnaround, and I was pretty nervous about how that was going to work out, but it ended up being OK,” she said. “It wasn’t the time that I wanted, but it wasn’t terrible, either. I was hoping to be around 2:02 low. I was about a second slower than I wanted to be. It was a meet record, but it wasn’t a personal best for myself. So it was a little bittersweet.”

In the 100 backstroke, Duval touched the wall just 0.02 seconds ahead of Whitman’s Keller Hawkins. She was not exactly thrilled about an account on her own school’s website describing her “surprise victory.”

“Not to sound cocky or anything, but I felt like it wasn’t that far-fetched or surprising,” she said. “I was seeded fourth going into finals, but first, second, third and fourth -- we were all within (0.5 seconds) of each other. I thought it was anybody’s game going into that race. I was about a second faster than I had been in the morning” preliminaries.

Duvall teamed with Anna Case in the 400 freestyle relay, Stang in the 800 freestyle relay, plus Jennifer Benson and Nicole Lecoq in both. Their times were 3:35.20 and 7:45.39, winning each race by more than a second.

“That was great,” Duvall said of those relay wins.

Duvall, who won the conference title in the 500 freestyle as a freshman, was second to Pacific University freshman Amanda Clark, finishing in 5:06.27 to Clark’s 5:03.22.

But back to team things.

After winning the conference championship the year before and losing several seniors who accounted for plenty of the team’s scoring, Whitworth finished second to UPS by a score of 623-606.

But the Loggers were expected to win by a much wider margin.

“The team score was pretty disappointing to me, only because we put so much into the weekend and to lose is hurtful,” Duvall said. “I did all I could do, and I know my teammates all did everything they could possibly do to improve our team score. At least we lost by 17 points -- fighting to lose by 17 points.

“When the heat sheet originally came out, we were slotted to lose by about 80 points -- so the fact that we lost by only 17 points is actually pretty impressive.”

Duvall will not know for a while if she will be competing at nationals again next month, but she is training like she will.

“I’m going to be training for the next two weeks until I find out,” she said. “I’ll be in the pool tomorrow morning.”

CCC honors again for Concordia’s Dixson

Concordia University junior Gabi Dixson was named Cascade Collegiate Conference women’s Indoor Field Athlete of the Week following her performances at the University of Washington’s Husky Invitational meet.

Dixson earned her second conference weekly honor after setting an indoor career best in the shot put with a throw of 46-6 at the Husky Invitational on Saturday. In addition to that, though, Dixson also threw a season-best 56-8 in the weight throw, which ranks second only to Dixson’s previous mark of 57-9 in school history.

The two marks also moved up Dixson, who competed for Battle Ground High School, to No. 3 in the shot put and No. 5 in the weight throw in the NAIA this season.

Limage sets records

Concordia University junior Junia Limage set a school record in the 600 meters during the University of Washington’s Husky Invitational meet.

The Fort Vancouver High School graduate placed third overall with a time of 1 minutes, 33.92 seconds. Her time is an “A” standard for NAIA indoor nationals, and is second on the NAIA performance list for this season. Limage also holds the CU indoor records for 800 and 1,000 meters.

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