PARKLAND – Pacific Lutheran Athletics capped one of the most successful weekends in department history Sunday as the PLU women's swimming team clinched its third straight Northwest Conference Championship to finish a dominant competition weekend for all six active programs.
With PLU hosting the 2016 Northwest Conference Swimming Championships in Federal Way, the Lute women's swim team claimed conference crowns in 12 of 18 events to total 796 points, 318 more than second-place Whitman. Meanwhile the PLU men picked up 548 points and fell only 17 points shy of their first top-two conference finish since 1996 after battling Whitman all weekend for that No. 2 spot. Combined, the two programs scored 1,344 points, almost 200 more than any other school. The teams also combined for 16 program records – including one Northwest Conference record – and 12 NCAA 'B' qualifying times during the three-day meet.
The Pacific Lutheran basketball programs put together a 4-0 weekend on the road, achieving a milestone that that Lutes had not accomplished in nearly 20 years. The Lute women knocked off Pacific 69-65 Friday in Forest Grove, Oregon, and followed that up Saturday with a 71-66 win over Lewis & Clark in Portland. PLU came back from a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit in both wins, as the Lutes claimed their first NWC road weekend sweep since 2008. The men followed each night with victories, downing Pacific 54-51 Friday and Lewis & Clark 66-65 Saturday for their first NWC road weekend sweep since 2011. The 4-0 combined road sweep marked the first time the PLU women's and men's basketball teams posted a perfect NWC road weekend since Dec. 5-6, 1997, when both Lute squads defeated Pacific and Linfield.
On the baseball and softball diamonds, the PLU teams both traveled to Arizona and saw their offenses put up impressive run totals. The Lute softball team swept Benedictine in a four-game series in Mesa, combining for 40 runs during the weekend. PLU swept a Friday doubleheader 11-1 and 6-5 and closed it out Saturday with 13-2 and 10-2 victories. Meanwhile, the 17th-ranked PLU baseball team scored 23 runs in a Saturday win over Redlands – the Lutes' most runs in a game since the 2010 season – while going 3-1 in Tucson. The Lutes began the weekend with a 6-4 win over La Verne Friday and swept Redlands in a marathon Saturday doubleheader 23-14 and 5-4 before falling 3-2 in Sunday's finale against La Verne.
Overall, the PLU baseball, softball and basketball programs combined for an 11-1 weekend performance, all on the road. Meanwhile, the swimming teams put together one of the most dominant performances in program history, all as part of a historically successful weekend for PLU Athletics.
As always in sports, the Lutes will have a chance to keep the run going this weekend. PLU hosts baseball, basketball and tennis competitions this weekend, as the Lute basketball teams wrap up their regular seasons and the tennis teams begin theirs. PLU hosts Whitman in Friday's basketball games for Breast Cancer Awareness Night, with the women's game set to tip off at 6 p.m. and the men's game following at 8 p.m. The PLU baseball team opens Northwest Conference play with its home-opening series against 14th-ranked Linfield Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 11 a.m. The teams close out a three-game series Sunday with first pitch set for 12 p.m. The PLU women's tennis team takes on Pacific Saturday in its 2016 season opener at Sprinker Recreation Center beginning at 1 p.m., and the men's tennis team opens the season Saturday on the road before returning home to host Willamette Sunday at Sprinker at 10:30 a.m.
To keep up with all the latest news on the Lutes, check out the PLU Athletics website GoLutes.com.