Wheeling Park Girls On Quest for A Repeat

Freshman Abby Turner sets record in 50 freestyle

Photo by John McCabe Wheeling Park High School junior Sarah Heilman, the defending state champion in the 100 butterfly, competes in the 100 back — an event in which she placed second in the state last year — during Monday's season-opening swim meet at Wheeling Park against John Marshall High School.

WHEELING–It is hard to believe that the defending state champion girls swim team at Wheeling Park could add any more weapons to an already talented cast of swimmers.

Then, freshman Abby Turner hit the water on Tuesday and set a new school record in the 50 freestyle with a mark of 25.71 in her first high school event, breaking the previous time of 26:09 set by teammate Sarah Heilman.

“It is just really exciting,” Turner said. “I didn’t know it at first but it feels good. It is a little overwhelming but we put in a lot of time and practice in during the offseason.”

The Patriots kicked off their quest at a repeat with an impressive showing against visiting John Marshall, upending their opponent 107-38.

Turner was also victorious in the 100 freestyle after turning in a time of 56.70.

“It’s not really a surprise,” Park coach Pat Durkin said. “We knew she was a really good swimmer but it’s great to see her get off to the start that she did. It sets the tone and sets the bar high for her.

“Overall, I think all of our girls had a nice night in the first meet. It is early yet but we will see what happens come January.”

Individually, Heilman picked right up where she left off last season with victories in both the 100 butterfly (1:03.89) and the 100 backstroke (1:04.18), while another freshman, Jenna Bopp, also kick-started her high school career at Park with wins in the 200 IM (2:26.75) and the 100 breaststroke (1:10.33). Allison Holmstrand also earned a victory for the Patriots in the 200 at a 2:26.89 mark.

Wheeling Park’s 200 medley and 400 relay teams also garnered wins.

The 200 medley squad of Heilman, Victoria White, Maggie Kloss and Melina McCabe came in at a time of 2:05.10, while the 400 group of White, Holmstrand, McCabe and Heilman provided a 4:17.17 pace.

“We had some youngsters from last year, along with a couple of seniors that wanted to come back and do some training,” Durkin said. “They started when school started, meeting two or three times a week. They worked hard and they are all good athletes.

“We have to work a little bit to fill some holes but they will be alright. They are a great group of kids.”

John Marshall’s lone win in the girls event came in the 200 relay as Laura Siler, Katie Minor, Jayden Conner and Paige Pethtel supplied a time of 2:05.38.

“The girls are looking pretty good this season,” JM coach Liz Kaczor said. “We are pretty excited about that and it is a good place to start against the state champions.”

In the boys event, it was Park claiming every race to emerge with a 135-19 triumph over the Monarchs.

The junior trio of Charles Schellhase, Caleb Lucas and Zach Seals led the Patriots with two individual wins each.

Schellhase took home top honors in the 200 (1:56.19) and the 500 (5:16.42), while Lucas claimed the 200 IM (2:22.86) and the 100 backstroke (1:10.70), and Seals tallied wins in the 50 (26:31) and the 100 (58:90).

The Park boys also secured all three relay events with wins in the 200 medley and the 200 and 400 freestyle relays.

The 200 medley squad consists of Lucas, Alexander Dague, Schellhase and Seals, who accounted for a 1:56.04.

Cameron Broadwater, Justin Riggs, Nathaniel Lucas and Devan Kuttan made up the 200 relay team that finished in 2:00.48, while the 400 relay crew of Lucas, Cole Franko, Seals and Schellhase accumulated a time of 3:49.00.

“The boys are young,” Durkin said. “We didn’t put one senior in the water (Tuesday). They are all underclassmen.

“The boys will get better. We have a nice solid core group and I am happy with them. We will put three solid relays in the water and our B relay looks strong, too.”

The Monarchs’ top performers in the boys’ contest were Brian Kotson (1:22.33) and Cullen Wise (1:28.60), who finished runners-up in the 100 butterfly and 100 breaststroke, respectively.

“Kotson did very well (Tuesday),” Kaczor said. “Wise also showed us what he could do in the breaststroke.

“There is a long way to go but I think it is a good start for us to see where we are. I am happy that all of our swimmers finished the race and everyone’s technique was correct.”