By Kevin Milak
HOUSTON, Tex, August 13. DAY two of the NCSA Junior Long Course Championship is in the books, with the conclusion of tonight’s finals and semifinals. There were several top swims by 13 year olds Kirsten Groome and Jessica Rodriquez in the 400 IM,and 14 year old Mark Dylla in the 200 Fly.
The evening session began with the finals of the 50 Breaststroke. Leading the way as the morning’s top qualifier, Ashley McLaughlin, 17, from Wolverine Aquatics was the only swimmer under 34 in the morning (33.96p) and came back to go faster tonight with a 33.78. In second, Kara Denby, 17, from Conejo Simi Aquatics dropped almost a half second from her morning swim to finish in 33.95.
In the men’s 50 Breaststroke, Kevin Bartwell, 18, from Bakersfield led qualifying in the prelims (30.25p) and came back to finish the job, nearly cracking the 30 second barrier in 30.04. Kevin Donohue, 17, of the Bay and Ocean State Squids finished second with 30.21. Rounding out the top three was Blake Nilsson, 17, Combined Competitive Aquatics in 30.45.
The women’s 400 IM was led all the way by 13-year old Kirsten Groome, from City of Mobile. Groome took charge with a quick 1:06.99 fly leg and held strong the rest of the way to win in 4:56.74. To win, Groome held off another hard-charging 13-year old from Mission Aurora, Jessica Rodriquez, was the only other swimmer under 5 minutes (4:58.28), due to a quick final 50 Free split (31.91).
The men’s 400 IM was led in dominating fashion by C.J. Nuess, 17, of Spokane. Nuess finished in 4:32.96, swimming strong all the way through the race. Tobias Work, 17, of Cape Cod finished second with a 4:37.08. Also noteworthy was third place finisher Dan Leelachati, 18, of Fullerton. Leelachati was in last place at the 200 meter mark, then charged into 3rd place with a 1:16.08 breaststroke split, to finish in 4:38.12.
The women’s 200 Fly was won by the strong finishers, Dana Benedict, 16, from Sandpipers swam solid splits throughout (32.00 – 36.14 – 35.67 – 35.73) to finish first in 2:18.93. While Katherine Raatz, 14, from AFOX came flying home (32.35 – 36.14 – 36.21 – 35.14) to finish in 2:19.84. Melissa Jaeger, 17, of Wolverine Aquatics had the fastest first 100, then faded to third (2:20.87).
The men’s 200 Fly was won by 14-year old Mark Dylla of Aces Swim Club. Dylla swam a gutsy race leading from the front and holding on with enough to win in 2:06.48. J.B. Walsh of Tidewater Aquatic Club, 16, and Breat Lundgaard, 17, Desert Storm finished together in 2:07.21 and 207.35 respectively.
Tonight there were semifinals of the 100 Free and 100 Back with finals tomorrow night. It took 59.39 to qualify for the top 8 in the women’s 100 Free, and 54.19 for the men. The 100 Back for the women saw AFOX’s Skye Elbert, 15, swam an extraordinary 1:04.49 (31.64-32.85) to lead qualifying for the women. For the men, Poseidon’s Scott Beard, 16, and Bellingham Bay’s John McCallen swam nearly identical races from two different heats, going 1:00.05 and 1:00.06.
The Women’s 200 Medley Relay went down to the finish as Blue Tide, Conejo Simi and The Woodlands finished in the top three with times of 2:03.31, 2:03.35, and 2:03.52. The Men’s Medley relay was the opposite, with Circle C leading the whole way with a 1:48.08. Bakersfield finished second in 1:49.65, and the Bay & Ocean State Squids finished third with a 1:50.21