Forester Women Claim Conference Title, Men Finish Second at MWC Championships
The Lake Forest College women's swimming & diving team finished 54 points ahead of runner-up Grinnell College at the 2012 Midwest Conference Championships at Lawrence University over the weekend. The Forester men placed second behind Grinnell for the third straight season.
Forester junior Becky Shaak (pictured) was named the league's Women's Swimmer of the Meet for the second time in her career and classmate Sam Gardner earned Women's Diver of the Meet honors. Lake Forest Head Coach Vadim Tashlitsky earned his third consecutive MWC Women's Coach of the Year award.
The finals on Sunday, the third and final day of the competition, began with the fastest heat in the women's and men's 1650-freestyle. Lake Forest junior Loren Dutca won the women's race in 17:46.40, which ranks her third in program history. Senior Amy Finn placed third in 18:20.28. Freshman Mark Wilcoxen made it a Forester sweep in the event by winning the men's race in 16:46.20, which also ranks third in school history. Fellow freshman Mitchell Reiner was the runner-up in 16:54.95, which would have cracked Lake Forest's top-five list had Wilcoxen not finished ahead of him.
Moments after the first career individual title for Wilcoxen, freshman Kelsie Miller also accomplished that feat in the 200-backstroke. Her winning time of 2:09.95 ranks her third in team history. Junior Meghan Mason was third in the event in 2:15.05 and sophomore Sabrina Letwin placed seventh (2:16.64). On the men's side freshman Brock Mone turned in his best performance of the weekend, placing fourth with a time of 2:01.37.
Junior Kelsey Hoeper won the 100-freestyle and her prelim time of 54.30 seconds was the fastest of the day. It was her third straight conference title in that event and her third individual championship of the weekend. Sophomore Jill Pastick finished fourth with a time of 55.57 seconds. Sophomore Zach Wenner was third in the men's 100-free in 48.28 seconds. Junior Diego Ledesma was sixth in 49.15 and freshman Kevin Barbrick placed seventh in the finals after posting a time of 48.98 seconds in the prelims.
Shaak completed her sweep of three individual events, established a new program record, and posted her third NCAA B-cut qualifying time of the weekend when she won the 200-breaststroke in 2:23.77. That time was more than five seconds faster than the runner-up in the event. Freshman Jessica Hanch also advanced to the final, where she placed sixth in 2:40.99. Junior Alex Marks made it a Forester sweep when he won the men's event in 2:07.62. He also won the 200-breaststroke in each of his first two seasons. Junior Jake Albion placed eighth in 2:26.28.
The final individual event of the weekend was the 200-butterfly, where sophomore Sarah Stoklosa finished fourth in 2:21.56 and freshman Kate Kell was sixth in 2:25.70. Sophomore Garr Punnett joined Shaak and Hoeper as champion in three individual events when he won the men's 200-butterfly in 1:54.93, which ranks him second in team history, less than a quarter of a second off the record. Sophomore David Albion was the runner-up in 2:00.14 and Wilcoxen was third (2:00.50), despite swimming the 1650-freestyle earlier in the evening. Freshman Matt McMahon finished fourth int he event in 2:06.06.
With a 46-point lead going into the final event, the Forester women had already clinched the 10th conference titile inprogram history but the first since 1998 and ended Grinnell's impressive streak of 13 consecutive championships. That did not stop Hoeper, Dutca, Shaak, and Finn from winning the 400-freestyle relay in 3:38.92 and finishing off a sweep of the weekend's five relays. On the men's side Wenner, Barbrick, Ledesma, and Punnett were the runners-up in 3:11.49, just four one-hundredths off the school record.
Lake Forest won eight of 12 events on Sunday and finished the weekend with 21 first-place performances, more than the other eight teams in the league combined. Forester swimmers and divers moved into the top five in team history or improved on their position among the program's best 19 times and set five new school records.
It was the final meet of the season for the majority of the team and the final career competition for Finn and diver Jade Perkins. They are the only two seniors in the program.
Select swimmers will compete in the University of Chicago's Midwest Invitational next weekend. Friday's competition will begin at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday's will start at 10:00 in the morning.