By Erin Quinn
BUFFALO, New York, July 25. KATHRYN Rowe won her third event of the meet tonight as several top seeds were toppled at finals on day two of Super Speedo Sectionals in Buffalo, N.Y. this Friday.
The only exception was in the 200-meter freestyle where Jessica Hespeler, 19, of CAC-CT and Virginia Tech defended her top seed status with a 2:02.92 just ahead of second place finisher Caitlyn Carr of Penn State, who clocked an impressive 2:03.48. That was Hespeler’s second win as she secured the women’s 100-meter freestyle final on Thursday night with a 56.76.
On the men’s side, the charismatic University of Pittsburgh swimmer Dan Sweeney, cheered on by his large contingent of teammates, also went on to secure first place as the top seed with a 1:53.15 more than one second ahead of Harvard-bound Jack Boyd (also a New York state varsity champion) who touched for second place with a 1:54.24.
Thus far, the most dominant swimmer of the meet has been Schenectady Sharks’ Kathryn Rowe, soon to be a junior at Penn State who has already three-peated in Buffalo with two more individual races to go. Although she was the second seed coming into finals in the 100-meter butterfly, Rowe closed the gap on her last two strokes just out-touching her competition by four one-hundredths of a second! The crowd was going wild as Rowe hit the pad with a 1:01.91 and Auburn’s Kristen Murslack, 19, with a 1:01.95! University of Virginia’s Shannon Rauth came in a close third with a 1:02.05.
As if the women’s 100-meter butterfly finals weren’t exciting enough, Kyle Higgins, 19, swimming for MLAC-AM and also Kentucky nearly broke the meet record in the men’s 100-meter butterfly with a 54.35 (the meet record is 54.27 set in 2009 by Sean Fletcher) to secure first place. He was trailed by over a second by Duke swimmer Kazumu Takabayashi, 19, who touched at 55.36, and third place went to 2014 New York state champion Justin Plaschaka with a 55.56. On Thursday, the Notre Dame-bound Plaschaka won the 100-meter freestyle with a 51.52.
Once again, the indomitable Kathryn Rowe over-powered the A-final of the 400 individual medley, comprised mostly of collegiate swimmers, with a blistering 4:55.88. She up-ended the top seed Sydney Modeas who came in third place with a 5:01.63, and Kathryn Painter, 17, of NAC-AM who finished second with a personal best of 4:57.47. That was Rowe’s third first place finish in the three individual events she has swum thus far including the 200 individual medley on Thursday night.
To wrap up Friday night’s individual events at finals there was some surprise action from lane one by 17-year-old Tyler Prescott of FINS-CT, who poured it on in the breaststroke leg, catching up to top seed Casey Storch of Machine Aquatics, and then going on to open up a confident lead in the freestyle securing 1st place with a personal best of 4:33.77. Storch followed in 4:34.93, a two second drop from his prelim time.
The action begins tomorrow with prelims in the men and women’s 200-meter butterfly, followed by the 100-meter backstroke, the 400-meter freestyle and the 800-meter freestyle relay.
The typically ice-cold Buffalo has never been hotter!