Jenna Bopp Breaks School Record in 500 Freestyle As Wheeling Park Girls Roll
New Philadelphia Boys Deliver Statement Victory
WHEELING — Jenna Bopp doesn’t typically swim in the 500 freestyle race but she believed she had what it took to do something great on Saturday.
The junior standout hit the water and was off as she not only competed but she set a new school record in the event with a time of 5:17.51.
Bopp, along with classmate Abby Turner, freshman Lacie Langmyer and the rest of the Wheeling Park girls swim team captured first place overall in the eight-team Wheeling Park Winter Invitational.
The Patriots stood atop the girls standings with 92 points, five points ahead of runner-up St. Clairsville. Morgantown was third at 63 and John Marshall claimed fourth with 52.
In its first Park Winter Invite, New Philadelphia made a big splash in the boys’ event, winning with a score of 104. Wheeling Park finished second with 75 points and St. Clairsville was third at 69.
Despite Bopp breaking the school record in the 500, she finished second to a speedy Caroline Riggs of Morgantown who won by a nose at 5:17.40.
“I wanted to break (the record),” Bopp said.
“Keeping up with (Riggs was the key). She did really well and that gives me more competition.
“We’ve been dropping times but this win gives us more confidence.”
Bopp did take home first place honors in the 50 with a time of 26.48.
“Jenna is an outstanding swimmer,” Park coach Pat Durkin said. “The fact that she can just come and do one event like that, break the record and move on shows that.
“Jenna doesn’t swim the 500 but it’s nice to see her break the record. Every once in awhile we give kids a choice in what they want to swim and they like to swim different events to see how they do.”
Also capturing wins for the Park girls was Turner in the 200 (2:01.32) and Langmyer in the 100 (58.15).
John Marshall’s Victoria Kidney won the butterfly (1:00.93) and the backstroke (1:00.90), while St. Clairsville’s Cassie DiBetta paced the Red Devils with wins in the 200 IM (2:13.66) and the breaststroke (1:04.94).
“I think this is good for us,” Durkin said. “Bringing in teams like New Philadelphia, St. Clairsville, Morgantown and University — it was a nice meet.
“I think New Philadelphia has a pretty strong boys’ team, too.”
It was a special day for the Quakers who made their first large meet in the OVAC one to remember.
“Our boys buckled down,” New Philly coach Nate Levengood said. “They knew it was going to be a big meet for us as kind of the introduction to the conference and I think they wanted to make a statement.
“The ECOL is not very big. I think there’s only five teams that swim. So, it’s nice to be a part of a conference that not only has a wide variety of teams but it’s very competitive, too. That’s fantastic for our program.”
The Quakers captured the 400 relay (3:38.59) and was led by Brenton Billman, who won the 200 IM in a time of 2:19.03.
“Brenton Billman has been consistent in the IM all year,” Levengood said. “We put him in a variety of events between the 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke and 100 breaststroke. He does a very good job for us. He’s been a distance guy for us in the past but it’s his first year as a true sprinter.
“Being part of a conference this big, though, it’s a team effort. Ultimately everyone’s swims accumulate to a team goal and in my four years with the program, this is the most unified I’ve seen this team.”
Wheeling Park’s Isaac McCabe was victorious in the breaststroke with a 1:07.86 and teammate Devanand Kuttan collected top honors in the butterfly (1:01.25).
St. Clairsville’s Ethan Banks won the 200 (1:57.65) and the backstroke (1:02.55) and his teammate Matthew Marling won the 100 (53.35).