Regional Swim Meet on Tap Today at Brooke

WELLSBURG–The dream of reaching the West Virginia state swim meet will come true for a number of local swimmers today at Brooke High School as the Region I Meet unfolds.

For some, it will be a recurring dream after qualifying for states a season ago but for others, the dream is fresh water waiting to be tested.

Wheeling Park freshmen Abby Turner and Jenna Bopp are both looking to complete breakout seasons with a trip to the state meet. They will be joined in the 200 medley relay and the 400 relay by two veteran swimmers who have reached the pinnacle of high school swimming with state titles last year.

Sarah Heilman and Victoria White qualified for states last year after claiming first in the medley and second in the 400 at the regional meet.

Heilman also won the 100 backstroke and earned runner-up honors in the 100 butterfly, while White qualified for states in the 200 IM and the 500.

“Sarah, Abby, Victoria and Jenna have to swim their best,” Park coach Pat Durkin said. “All four of them should be very high in their events and should all have two top-two finishes.”

Coming into regionals, the Wheeling Park and Parkersburg girls look to be neck-and-neck when it comes to seed times.

“We came out dead-even in seed times,” Durkin said. “We had the same exact scores. They have two relays seeded ahead of us so if our relays can pick it up a little bit, maybe we can flip-flop one of those teams and that would be an eight-point swing.

“Winning the regional would be icing on the cake but the whole goal is to qualify for the state tournament. We want our relays to swim fast but we want them to be safe. Their times are fast enough to qualify for states but we don’t need a disqualification. That would hurt our chances.”

Leading the Wheeling Park boys into action is junior Charles Schellhase, who returns after setting the Region I record in the 500 last year at a mark of 5:01.73. He also qualified in the 200 freestyle.

“I expect a lot of good things from Charles,” Durkin said. “He should be one or two in his events.

“Alex Dague should surprise some people in the breaststroke and I like Max Kellas in the butterfly. I think he can make it as an individual to states.”

Park’s 400 relay squad of Schellhase, Cole Franko, Caleb Lucas and Nicholas DeFazio is also seeded first.

“I thought we would have a nice boys team this year,” Durkin said. “But we didn’t expect them to be as strong as they are. A three-point loss in the first meet of the season was our worst meet and we haven’t really been in a position to lose a meet since.

“I feel confident that if the guys swim their times this weekend, they will be fine.”

Brooke’s Noah Horvath is the top seed in the boys’ 200 IM, while the Bruins’ 200 medley relay squad of Horvath, Ethan Robey, Joseph Siudak and Anthony Taylor also turned in a top-seed time.

Wil Visnic of Weir should provide a strong showing in the boys’ 200 as he recorded a seed time of 1:51.12, good enough for first.

There is some excitement surrounding John Marshall freshman Zara Zervos who is seeded fifth in the girls’ breaststroke.

“We are excited about that,” John Marshall coach Liz Kaczor said. “It would be the first time in a long time that John Marshall would have a freshman qualify for states.

“Zara has been a great addition to the team this year.”

Alex Postle is seeded fourth for the Monarchs in the breaststroke and sixth in the 200 IM, while Creed Kidney sits at fifth in the 50 and sixth in the 200.

For the JM girls, Laura Siler holds onto the sixth seed in the 50 freestyle and Avery Knutsen is ranked eighth in the butterfly.

“We are doing really well,” Kaczor said. “We are ready for (today). It has been a tough season with our pool closure but the kids have showed perseverance and mental strength pushing through.

“Between our seniors and our fairly young team, we have a pretty solid chance of representing at state.”

The Maroon Knights of Wheeling Central will also be well represented in the regional as Lauren Garan is seeded third in the 100 freestyle and the girls’ 400 relay squad of Grace Taylor, Claire Dieffenbaugher, Patricia Tiu and Garan is seeded fourth.

“I’m very proud of how my team has come together this year,” Central coach Jeani Humpe said. “They have stepped up and showed me how dedicated they are all to the team. I look for good things to happen with freshman Lauren Garan and Junior Patricia Tiu at the meet.”

Rachel Dmach is also a four-seed for the Knights in the 100 breaststroke, while Garan is a fifth seed in the 50.

Garan spearheads the 200 medley relay team of Taylor, Dieffenbaugher and Dmach that is seeded sixth.

The boys’ 200 medley relay club is also a six seed with Cole Saseen, Nate Nixon, Nathan Blair and Daniel O’Leary.

Blair also turned in a seed time of 6:12.30 in the boys’ 500 for the sixth spot.

Action begins at 11:30 a.m.