Park Boys Claim Regional Swim Title
Girls’ squad comes in second to Parkersburg
WHEELING–Region One belongs to the boys of Wheeling Park.
The Patriots continued their torrid pace this season by claiming the WVSSAC Region One Swim Championship on Saturday at Brooke with a score of 115, six points ahead of runnerup Parkersburg.
Charles Schellhase, Caleb Lucas, Alexander Dague, along with the 200 and 400 relay teams earned automatic bids to the state meet with top-3 finishes at regionals. The meet will be held Feb. 15-16 in Morgantown.
“I thought our boys were really competitive (Saturday),” Park coach Pat Durkin said. “They swam well and beat a good Parkersburg team. They looked good and they are excited. Now we have another job to do.”
Schellhase provided leadership in the water by earning first place in the 200 (1:50.67) and the 500, while setting a new meet record of 5:01.50 in the 500.
It is his third trip to the state meet.
“I dropped a lot of time since OVACs so that felt great,” Schellhase said. “I was where I needed to be for states this year and I just want to thank my coaches and my teammates for helping me get there.
“Last year showed me how serious I need to be at states and no matter what happens, it’s good in the end. I have to just keep my head up, keep going for it and work my hardest.”
Lucas qualified in the 100 (51.51) and the 200 IM (2:17.19), Dague earned an automatic bid in the 100 breaststroke (1:08.44), while the 200 relay squad of Lucas, Manaved Kuttan, Nicholas DeFazio and Schellhase turned in a time of 1:37.88 and the 400 team of Schellhase, Cole Franko, DeFazio and Lucas finished the day strong with a 3:35.62 to qualify.
The Park girls were also well represented as they claimed second place with 104 points, just 11 behind champion Parkersburg.
The girls got off to a fast start by winning the first event in the 200 relay as Sarah Heilman, Jenna Bopp, Victoria White and Abby Turner supplied a mark of 1:55.12.
The same group of four also recorded a time of 3:52.28 in the 400 relay to reach the state tilt.
Bopp also turned in a victory in the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:09.41to secure a trip to Morgantown in just her freshman campaign.
“I am very excited,” Bopp said. “I was a little nervous coming in because all of our times were so close but I was focused on just dropping time.
“I want to thank my coaches for their help this season, especially with my turns.”
Also claiming multiple spots at the state meet are Heilman in the 100 butterfly (1:02.92) and the 100 backstroke (1:02.24), White in the 200 IM (2:23.40) and the 500 (5:36.93), and Turner in the 100 (54.46) and the 50 (24.96).
“We knew coming in that it was going to be a close race,” Durkin said. “We just wanted to make sure that our relays were close. It was important for our girls to qualify for states. That was our message all week and I think they did that job. We are sending quite a few girls down.”
Parkersburg was led to victory behind a record-breaking effort from Grace Cox, who broke a meet, pool and school record in the 100 butterfly (59.47) and a school record in the 50 (25.45).
“Grace had a great meet,” Parkersburg coach Terry Nisewarner said. “We swam really well. We have been having some good practices lately and we’ve had a good season overall.
“Our last meet kind of challenged us but we’ve been working and they dropped a lot of time (Saturday). I was even a little surprised. It’s amazing.
“This is the first time we won the regional in my five years as coach. It’s a good experience.”
Taking the trip to the state meet for Brooke will be Noah Horvath who qualified in the 200 IM (2:10.91) and the backstroke (1:01.10), along with Ethan Robey who earned a spot in the 500 (5:16.60) and won the 100 breaststroke (1:06.67).
“This feels awesome,” Robey said. “I’m just a freshman so I wasn’t sure what to expect coming into the season but I have progressed through the season and I’m excited and ready for states.
“Coach (Kelsie) Smith has been a big help and my parents are really involved in the team so that helps too.”
Brooke’s 200 medley relay squad of Horvath, Robey, Joseph Siudak and Anthony Taylor are also making the Morgantown trip after a 1:50.73 showing.
Weir’s Wil Visnic is heading to the state meet for the third time in his career after earning spots in the 200 and 100 butterfly, and is looking to wrap up his career with his first state title.
“Being my senior year and doing as well as I did (Saturday), it puts a nice cap on all of the work that I’ve done,” Visnic said. “I’ve not won a state championship yet but it would be an indescribable feeling. Lord willing I’ll be able to tell you how it feels eventually.
“Even if I don’t, it’s been a great four years no matter what happens.”
Weir’s Chris Hoover will be joining Visnic at states with a 53.93 time in the 100 freestyle.