Jones and Priestley Highlight Opening Day of YMCA Nationals

By John Lohn

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla., April 6. THE start of the YMCA Short Course Nationals got under way with some sizzling times and a handful of down-to-the-wire races Tuesday. No one, though, stood out more than Joliet’s Ashley Jones and Birmingham’s Dan Priestley.

After opening the competition with a narrow victory in the 100 backstroke, Jones came back to take top honors in the 200 individual medley by a comfortable margin. In the back, Jones touched the wall in 55.28, finishing ahead of West Shore’s Tricia Weaner (55.29) by the slimmest of margins. Shortly thereafter, Jones won the 200 I.M. in 2:02.39, ahead of South Family’s Carly Mathes (2:03.49). Felicia Lee, a 12-year-old, finished seventh in the I.M. in 2:07.70, a cooking time for the age.

Sarasota’s Corinne Showalter had little trouble en route to victory in the 500 freestyle, as the finished in 4:45.95. Emily Brunemann of the ME Lyons was the second-place finisher in 4:50.15. As for the 50 free, Champaign’s Payton Johnson prevailed in 23.56 while Lakeland Hills’ C.J. Pisano and Boyertown’s Lisa Shelps tied for second place in 23.84.

The 200 medley relay featured a three-team battle that was decided at the wall and won by Lakeland Hills in a crisp 1:46.56. Behind the quartet of Katherine O’Gorman, Brienne Rosendahl, Pisano and Alisha Carrazza, Lakeland touched ahead of West Shore, which was timed in 1:46.59. Meanwhile, the Upper Main Line Y took bronze in 1:46.73. The West Shore squad featured Weaner, Marianne Flynn, Leah Gingrich and Allison Luttermoser.

On the male side, Priestley produced the most fireworks as he doubled in the 200 individual medley and the 50 freestyle. Following a 1:50.17 performance in the 200 I.M., which bettered the 1:51.81 of Summit’s Brian Wilson, Priestley blistered 20.48 in the 50 free. That scorching time held off Wilton’s Jeff Sudbury, who checked in at 20.54.

The 500 freestyle emerged as a three-way show that was won by Hank Browning of the ME Lyons. Browning touched in an impressive mark of 4:25.99 to defeat Triangle Area’s Charlie Houchin (4:26.27). Wilton’s Andrew Trepp was third in 4:28.43.

Pottstown’s Patrick Schirk, who set a Pennsylvania state record last month, won the 100 backstroke in 49.11, a time that bettered the 49.56 of Countryside’s Chris French. As for the 200 medley relay, Wilton easily won the event in 1:33.95, thanks to the efforts of Phil Baity, Sudbury, Ben Prue and Trepp. Birmingham was second in 1:34.89.

In the team races, some tight battles have formed. In the combined scoring, Lakeland Hills (126.5) is clinging to a one-point edge over Wilton (125.5) while Franklin County sits third with 118 points. For the girls, Lakeland Hills has 67.5 points to the 67 of West Shore and the 66 of Sarasota. As for the boys, Wilton has a sizable lead with 107.5 points to the 78 of Birmingham.

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