Explosive Finals Session on Tap at NCSA Junior Nationals; Hu, Haas, Manuel, Stewart Looking For More Wins

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ORLANDO, Florida, March 20. THE third day at the NCSA short course junior nationals is shaping up to be just as intense as the first two days, with several swimmers looking for their second or third victories.

After setting a national age group record in the 100 freestyle last night, First Colony Swim Club’s Simone Manuel will be looking for a 200 free win tonight. She posted a 1:45.52 to take lane four in tonight’s finals, where she’ll be looking to improve on her 1:44.22 personal best. Though Manuel is best known for her sprinting prowess, she’s looking to beef up her 200 freestyle and be a major contributor for Stanford University next season. Megan Moroney of Saint Andrew’s Swimming qualified second with a 1:46.78 while Katherine Drabot of Ozaukee Aquatics posted a 1:46.92 for the third seed. Mallory Comerford and 200 back champion Kylie Stewart tied for eighth with times of 1:48.10 that prompted a swimoff. (winner of swimoff)

Townley Haas will be looking for his third win of the meet and a near sweep of the freestyle events after qualifying first in the men’s 200 free. Haas cruised to a 1:36.83 this morning, the only swim under 1:37. After winning the 1000 on Tuesday and the 500 last night, Haas looks in position to take the triple. Kingfish’s Nicholas Arakelian, who finished second to Haas in the 500, qualified second with a 1:37.38, just ahead of Crimson’s Liam Egan and his 1:37.73. Also breaking 1:38 was Palm Harbor YMCA’s Tristan Sanders, last night’s 200 backstroke champion, with a 1:37.81. Notably, 14-year-old professional swimmer Michael Andrew qualified for tonight’s B final in a tie for 12th with Joseph Krause in a time of 1:39.26. Andrew will be looking to chase down one of the few national age group records he doesn’t own in the 13-14 age group, which is a 1:38.42 by Maxime Rooney.

Andrew took the top seed in the men’s 50 breaststroke, his second of three prelim swims today. His 24.94 beat out the 24.96 by Connor Hoppe of Clovis Swim Club and the 25.19 by 100 breast champion Carsten Vissering. With no national age group record available in the 50 breast, Andrew’s only goal in the race is a win.

In the women’s 50 breast, last night’s 100 breast champion Samantha Senczyszyn qualified second with a 28.65 behind the 28.63 posted by New Trier’s Ingrid Wall. Olivia Anderson was right behind for the third spot with a 28.69. Alexis Wenger, the 13-year-old who shocked with a national age group record time of 1:00.98 last night, took the fourth spot in the 50 breast with a 28.81. Natalie Pierce won the swimoff against Riley Scott to earn a place in the A final after both tied for eighth with times of 29.17.

In the women’s 400 IM, Mia Nonnenberg of Blue Dolphin Aquatics will look to take the junior national title with a top qualifying time of 4:14.12, a personal best by nearly two seconds for the 17-year-old. She’ll be chased by Katherine Drabot of Ozaukee, who posted a 4:14.67 for second, and Stewart with her 4:14.82.

Gunnar Bentz cruised to the top qualifying spot in the men’s 400 IM with a 3:47.78, the only swim under 3:50. Though unshaved for this meet, he’ll be targeting his lifetime best of 3:45.80 from December 2012. Sam McHugh, a constant presence on the awards podium so far at this meet, will be looking for another top-two finish after a 3:50.95 that puts him in second position for tonight’s finals. He’s been under 3:50 before, with a 3:47.08 to his credit. Four swimmers posted times in the 3:52 range to set up a potential race for third. Alex Lebed (3:52.00), Justin Edwards (3:52.17), Jae Park (3:52.40) and Tomas Peribonio (3:52.80) will be in the hunt for a top-three finish tonight.

A day after blazing through the 200 fly finals with a national age group record, Janet Hu put herself in position to sweep the butterfly events with a 23.53 to lead qualifiers in the 50 fly. Elizabeth Nelson, swimming unattached, posted a 24.31 for second, while Ashton Ellzey from City of Mobile qualified third in 24.70.

Baylor’s Luke Kaliszak topped qualifiers in the men’s 50 fly with a fast 21.44 in a prelim event that saw five swimmers under 22 seconds. Bentz (21.58), Andrew (21.83), Steven Tan (21.86) and Justin Plaschka (21.94) took the top five spots.

The two fastest heats of the men’s and women’s 400 freestyle relays will be swum in tonight’s finals.

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Author: Jeff Commings

Jeff Commings is the Senior Writer for SwimmingWorld.com and Swimming World Magazine. He graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in journalism and was a nine-time NCAA All-American.

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