van Deventer, Najarian post NCAA "A" cuts, Tigers finish fourth

van Deventer, Najarian post NCAA "A" cuts, Tigers finish fourth
By Michael Wells
Sports Information Director

LA MIRADASteven van Deventer (Naperville, Ill.) posted a pair of NCAA "A" cuts, Alexander Najarian (Glendale) broke two long-held Oxy records and recorded a NCAA "A" cut of his own and the Occidental College men's swimming and diving team took fourth at the SCIAC Championships at Spash! La Mirada on Tuesday.

van Deventer won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 55.70 seconds and the 200 breast with a 2:02.09 — both times that currently rank in the top three nationally — setting himself up for the NCAA Championships in Shenandoah, Texas starting on March 20.

"He already kind of established the standard for the Oxy breaststroke last year by setting the school records in the 100 and 200 breast, so to come back this year and lower those times with NCAA "A" cuts shows you what kind of athlete he is," Occidental coach Shea Manning said. "He's just truly dedicated to consistently raising the bar for his expectations in training and in racing."

Najarian, who snapped a 21-year-old Oxy 100 butterfly record with a 49.33 and a 36-year-old 200 fly record with a 1:51.69, will be joining him after his 100 fly met NCAA "A" cut qualifying standards.

"Breaking two records that are older than he is just really reestablishes the fact that our program is young and on the rise," Manning said.

Oxy finished the dual meet season in sixth, but turned it on to jump up to fourth at the SCIAC championships thanks to van Deventer, Najarian and also Kevin Kuwata (Rolling Hills) and William Westwater (Columbus, Ohio).

Kuwata posted a NCAA "B" cut in the 100 and 200 breast. His 100-breast time of 56.95 earned him All-SCIAC honors and was also under van Deventer's previous school record of 57.68 set last year.

Westwater was a finalist in the 50 freestyle and the 100 backstroke.

van Deventer, Najarian, Kuwata and Westwater also teamed up to break three Occidental relay records. The group went 1:25.10 in the 200 freestyle, 3:26.84 in the 400 medley and 1:33.78 in the 200 medley. Their 400 medley time broke a 36-year-old Oxy record by more than 4 seconds and earned them All-SCIAC honors in the event.

"They've had their eye on that 36-year-old record since the beginning of the season," Manning said. "And because of that I think they created a training environment that gave them the opportunity to break other relay records as well."