A year removed from a somewhat disappointing 15th place finish at the 2005 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving National Championships, the Oles, with the help of Nelson Westby 09, came back with a vengence in 2006.
St. Olaf took eighth place overall at last weekends championships in a talented pool of 53 teams, doubling its point total from a year ago by scoring 156 in the meet, which took place Thursday through Saturday
St. Olaf, which had nine athletes competing at the University of Minnesotas Aquatic Center (eight swimmers and one diver), also finished ahead of conference and MIAC Champion Gustavus, who fell to 11th place overall.
We were hoping to place in the top ten, and we hung right around there the whole time, said co-head coach Dave Hauck.
Pacing the team in individual events was sensation Westby. Westby finished fourth in the 100-yard butterfly (49.56 seconds) and third in the 100-yard breastroke (56.42 seconds). Westbys accomplishments were even more impressive considering the fact that only one additional race separated the two events, giving the sprinter a minimal amount of rest time.
Nelsons efforts really turned everything around for us, and helped get things rolling, Hauck said. He really was an inspiration for the rest of the guys.
The previous day, Westby, despite not making the final heat in the 200-yard individual medley, still won the consolation heat with an lifetime-best time of 1:51.42, actually finishing with the second-best time at the meet.
This isnt something that happens every day, Hauck said. Nelson turned in the kind of performance that just makes everyone peform that much better.
Fellow first-year Jacob Koch, also competing in five different events at the championships, scored a 16th place finish for the Oles in the 100-yard freestyle (46.58).
The teams lone championship diver, two-time MIAC Diver of the Year Christian Lorentzen 07, scored 451.25 points to place fifth in the three-meter diving competition and 436.45 points in the one-meter competition to take sixth.
St. Olaf also sent three relay teams to the weekend meet. The 200-freestyle relay team of Koch, Westby, J.C. Chambers 06 and Paul Evenson 07 finished 12th overall, while the 800- freestyle relay team of Joe Anderson 07, Koch, Westby and Evenson finished seventh.
The Oles two medley relays (400- and 200-yards) finished fifth and ninth, respectively. Tom Kukla 07, Ben Wareham 06, Chambers, Westby and Koch comprised the two relays.
Kenyon College in Ohio won its 27th consecutive NCAA Championship with 498 points, while Carleton was 31st with 18 points.