Young wins twice at MIAC; first men's champ in decades

By Will Kennedy

The word “champion” has not appeared in the Macalester men’s swimming and diving team’s vocabulary for decades. After last week’s Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship meet, however, Nathan Young ’11 is threatening to make it a familiar word for years to come. The first-year from Denver, Colo. swam to MIAC titles in the 100 and 200 yard backstroke races at the University of Minnesota Aquatics Center. His time of 1:51.56 in the 200 will likely propel him to the national meet in Oxford, Ohio, which begins March 13.The last time a man from Mac stood atop the podium at a MIAC meet outdates 19-year veteran head coach Bob Pearson’s tenure. It even outdates his records of the school’s all time best performances. “We think it’s been at least 30 years, but we can’t really tell,” Pearson said.

After overcoming an error in the 100-yard back-stroke to win by less than .25 of a second last Friday, Young returned Saturday for the 200-yard swim with his teammates, friends and mother cheering him on. This time he left no doubts about the end result.

“During the [race] I was just thinking about winning the conference,” Young said. “When I looked at my time, I was shocked, I had no idea I swam so fast.”

With 25-meters left, Young had sealed the race, gapping his nearest competitor by two seconds. Young crushed his own school record in the event-1:55.53-and gave himself a legitimate shot at competing in March. “There’s a very good chance I could go to nationals,” he said.

Young’s exploits, which also include a sixth place finish in the 200 individual medley, provided some highlights for a tournament that saw many solid performances from the eight-man swimming squad.
“The biggest thing on the men’s side was that we had one hundred percent [season] best times,” Pearson said.

Notably for the Scots, Mitch Stepleton ’10 placed ninth in the mile swim, while the 400-yard free-style relay team of Young, Jeff Yamashita ’11, Seth McIntire ’09 and Stepleton placed seventh overall.

“I think we did pretty well and we worked really hard,” Yamashita said. “We really meshed and we worked together.”

Not everything went perfectly for the men’s team however as a relay disqualification resulting from a swimmers early departure cost the team a place in the league standings. The Scots finished eighth out of eight teams, failing to improve on last year’s finsih.

Pearson, however, said the responsibility was on him to keep the team improving and to bolster its numbers with more recruits.
“I don’t know if we could have had a much better meet than we did,” he said. “It’s on me now. I’ve got to get some more people in here to help these guys and to keep building for the future.