Wheeling Park Trio Dominates the Water

Wheeling Park’s Sarah Heilman does her part during the 400 relay

MOUNDSVILLE — The Wheeling Park girls’ swim team is ranked second in West Virginia according to last week’s  SwimWV Power Rankings, but the Patriots would not be at the top of that list without three key contributors.

Sophomore Sarah Heilman, freshman Lydia Bischof and junior Victoria White have been outstanding in the water this year and were all ranked in the top 10 in last week’s SwimWV top 50 swimmers.

Heilman held down the third spot in the state with 490 total points, 14 behind leader Abigail Riggs of Morgantown. Bischof was next in the sixth spot with 435 points and White was eighth with 413 coming into Saturday’s Holiday Meet, in which the Patriots were victorious.

The Wheeling Park girls were victorious again Tuesday night at Four Seasons Pool as they visited John Marshall in big thanks to those three standouts.

They were perfect in every individual event as White collected wins in the 200 (2:11.97), winning by just less than 26 seconds, and the 100 butterfly (1:08.63), while Bischof won the 100 (1:00.94) and the 100 backstroke (1:17.37) and Heilman took top honors in the 50 (27.67).

Bischof and White teamed up to help the Patriots capture the 400 relay (4:18.55) in the final girls event of the night.

“The pool was kind of difficult to swim in since its hot and humid in here,” White said. “But I still felt strong in the pool.”

All three Patriots have put in the work to achieve the success they have early in their careers and it has not gone unnoticed.

“All three girls are really hard workers in the pool and out of the pool they have great attitudes,” Park coach Patrick Durkin said.

“They are fun to be around and fun to coach. They are just great kids.”

White has been fantastic in her three years on the team but perhaps her most memorable moment of her swimming career came when she met her idol in 2011.

“When I was in sixth-grade, I met Michael Phelps at Ohio State,” White said. “It was the highlight of my swimming career. He was just signing autographs at a grand pre-meet and he gave me a high-five.

“If I had the chance to ask him one question, I would ask him how he is able to keep going when he gets tired in the pool.”

So far, White doesn’t seem to be having any problems with stamina in the water and she looks to get even better as the season and her career goes along.

As the sophomore of the bunch, Heilman has put together the best season of the three.

She credits her love of swimming and her success to her older sister, Emily.

“My older sister got me started on swimming,” Heilman said. “She is in college now but she is the one that inspires me the most.”

Heilman is having a stellar campaign but has her eyes set on the future.

“I am looking forward to the big meets this year, such as OVAC’s and states,” the sophomore said. “I  think we have a chance of doing really well as a team.

“I would really like to go to a D-I college, that is my goal. It would be really cool to swim for Notre Dame.”

With the performance that Heilman has provided this season at such a young age, her dreams have a very good chance of coming true.

The youngest of the three is Bischof, who might just be in her freshman year but is swimming like a senior. In fact, she has high hopes for her career and her senior season.

“By my senior year, I would like to have a national time and win state as a team,” Bischof said. “I am excited (for the future). There are so many great swimmers here and I am excited for the younger kids to come up. I think its going to be great.”

For Bischof, her first year of varsity swimming has been surreal and she is grateful to two individuals who have helped make it all possible for her.

“My mom and dad have pushed me to be the best that I can be and to always do my best,” the freshman said. “They have taught me to work hard and good things will come to me.

“The highlight for me this year has been meeting new people and meeting great swimmers and friends who I will have for the rest of my high school career.”

The sky is the limit for this young, but talented Wheeling Park team and the future is very bright for this trio of athletes.

“They are good,” Durkin said. “We have a nice team now but next year we will be even better. We will lose some good seniors but these girls can step right in and the future looks good for us.”

The Wheeling Park girls topped John Marshall on Tuesday by a 115-51 count behind a strong performance from White, Bischof and Helilman. The Wheeling Park boys edged the Monarchs by a 93-71 score.

Other winners for Wheeling Park on Tuesday were Melina McCabe who won the 200 IM (2:47.96) and Alexa Hickman in the 100 breaststroke (1:20.56) for the girls, while Charles Schellhase won the 100 butterfly (1:05.96) and Michael Butts gathered top honors in the 100 breaststroke (1:14.98).

John Marshall received individual victories from Walker Postle in the boys 500 (6:14.52 and the 200 (2:11.29), while Billy Fox won the 200 IM (2:24.03) and the 100 backstroke (1:04.59) and Jeremy Fahey earned top honors in the 50 (26.12) and the 100 (57.90).

Destiny Moffatt paced the Monarchs’ girls team with a win in the 500 (7.47.81).