2019 Speedo USA Junior Nationals Day 4: Young Swimmers Take Charge; Armstrong Breaks Record

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Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

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The younger generation had some jaw dropping finishes on Day Four of the 2019 Speedo USA Junior Nationals.

The 15-year-old women were on fire tonight as Justina Kozan won the 200 freestyle, Emma Weber won the 200 breaststroke, and Kennedy Noble won the 100 backstroke.

Jack Walker went a time of 1:49.69 to earn him the gold in the men’s 200 freestyle. Walker will be training for the 2020 Olympics with the University of Virginia starting this fall.

Dylan Rhee went an impressive time of 2:13.54 to claim the men’s 200 breaststroke title. Rhee has shown massive improvement throughout the year to get him not only first at Jr. Nationals but to be 4.35 seconds under the Olympic Trials cut. To see how much Rhee has improved since last January check out this article.

Hunter Armstrong broke the championship record in tonight’s 100 backstroke when he swam a time of 54.97. Armstrong beat Michael Andrew’s old record of 54.99 by only .02 of a second.

Women’s 200 Freestyle 

Olympic Trials Cut: 2:01.69 

At only 15 years old, Jutina Kozan broke the two-minute barrier in the women’s 200 freestyle with a time of 1:59.48. Kozan was first from the get-go, going a 27.92 in the first 50 of the race, and was just shy of two seconds faster then her time in prelims.

Miranda Heckman was close to breaking two minutes but came in with a time of 2:00.31. Heckman added a silver to the gold she captured in Wednesday night’s 100 freestyle. Also coming in at the two-minute mark was Riley Francis with a time of 2:00.75, giving her the bronze.

Ella Bathurst (2:01.24), Kayla Wilson (2:01.34), and Ella Ristic (2:01.51) also qualified for the Olympic Trials times. In seventh place was Cora Dupre with a time of 2:01.82. Dupre had the fastest reaction time of .63 of a second and held good speed for the majority of the race by taking second at the first two walls and third on the final turn.

In eighth was Riley Parker with a time of 2:04.63.

B finalists Chloe Stepanek (2:01.02), Megan Drumm (2:01.11), and Felicia Pasadyn (2:01.32), also earned  their Olympic Trials cuts in the women’s 200 freestyle.

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Men’s 200 Freestyle 

Olympic Trials Cut: 1:50.79 

Jack Walker dropped nearly a second to maintain his top seed and earn him the gold in the men’s 200 freestyle with a time of 1:49.69. Walker will be contributing his strengths to the University of Virginia starting this upcoming fall.

Colby Mefford came in second with a time of 1:50.88. Mefford had been in eighth after the first 100 but had a phenomenal finish to claim him the silver.

Ben Forbes also had a strong finish to get him the bronze with a time of 1:51.11. Following Forbes by only .05 of a second was Zach Hills with a time of 1:51.16. Tying for fifth were Hugh Svendsen and Donald Scott with times of 1:51.42. Svendsen had been .04 of second behind Scott at the final turn but caught up for the tying finish.

Taking seventh was Luke Maurer with a time of 1:52.66, followed by second seed Hunter Ingram with a time of 1:52.99.

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Women’s 200 Breaststroke 

Olympic Trials Cut: 2:33.29 

Second seed Emma Weber raced her best to claim the women’s 200 breaststroke title with a time of 2:29.90. Dropping almost four seconds from prelims, Weber is now under the Trials cut by 3.39 seconds at only 15 years old.

Dropping from eighth place to second from prelims to finals was Gigi Johnson with a time of 2:30.69. Johnson’s time not only put her on the podium but earned her a spot at the Olympic Trials.

Along with Weber and Johnson, Annika McEnroe (2:31.53) and Grace Rainey (2:31.53) earned their Olympic Trials cut in this evening’s 200 breaststroke. Brynn Curtis just barley missed the Trials cut by .37 seconds, but still went 2:33.66 to earn fifth place.

In sixth was Abigail Herscu with a time of 2:34.03, and in seventh was Katie McClintock with a time of 2:34.78.

Sophia Zhang earned the fifth seed in prelims but was disqualified during tonight’s finals.

Qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the C Final was Reese Lugbill with a time of 2:32.99, and hitting the time on the nose was Natalie Bercutt with a time of 2:33.29.

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Men’s 200 Breaststroke 

Olympic Trials Cut: 2:17.89 

Dylan Rhee went an impressive time of 2:13.54 to claim the men’s 200 breaststroke title. Rhee has shown massive improvement throughout the year to get him not only first at Jr. Nationals but to be 4.35 seconds under the Olympic Trials cut.

Future Indiana University swimmer, Maxwell Reich, dropped .97 of a second to get him second overall with a time of 2:14.00.

In third came Liam Bell with a fast finish and a time of 2:15.17. In fourth was Ben Dillard with a time of 2:15.30. Dillard had a fast start and was first at the 50m mark with a time of 30.46. Along with the first four places, Hayden Zheng (2:16.28) and Will Goodwin (2:17.33) earned their Olympic Trials times in this evening’s finals.

In seventh place was Brandon Stride with a time of 2:18.06, and in eighth was Cameron Luarde with a time of 2:18.90.

Also qualifying for the Olympic Trials were B finalists Noah Nichols (2:17.22) and Cobi Lopez Miro (2:17.68), along with C finalist Ethan Dang (2:16.73).

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Women’s 100 Backstroke 

Olympic Trials Cut: 1:02.69 

Yet another 15-year-old claimed a gold this evening as Kennedy Noble dropped .64 of a second from prelims to win the women’s 100 backstroke. Just a year younger and .31 of a second behind was silver medalist Rye Ulett with a time of 1:01.56. Coming in .08 of a second after Ulett was Alexandra Crisera with a time of 1:01.64.

Also qualifying for Olympic Trials in this evening’s 100 backstroke was fourth place finisher Reilly Tiltmann with a time of 1:01.94, fifth place finisher Tristen Ulett with a time of 1:01.97, and sixth place finisher Abby Karl with a time of 1:02.29.

Coming in seventh was Abby Kapeller with a time of 1:02.96, and coming in eighth was Grace Wey with a time of 1:03.48.

Qualifying for the Olympic Trials in the B final were  Casey Chung (1:01.79), Maggie Wanezek (1:01.81), Felicia Pasadyn (1:02.57), Emma Karam (1:02.58), and Sydney Silver (1:02.68). This was Pasadyn’s second Olympic Trial cut of the night, as she earned her 200 freestyle time earlier in this evening’s B final.

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Men’s 100 Backstroke 

Olympic Trials Cut: 56.59 

Hunter Armstrong broke the championship record by .02 seconds, going a time of 54.97. The former record time of 54.99 was set by Michael Andrew back in 2015. Armstrong dropped .17 of a second off of his best time that he had set in prelims.

Following Armstrong was fellow CCS teammate Christopher O’Connor with a time of 55.54.

In third was Ian Grum with a time of 55.94. Grum also broke a championship record earlier this week in the men’s 200 backstroke.

Jake Marcum followed Grum by .05 of a second to get fourth with a time of 55.99.

Along with the top four men, Tim Connery (56.40) and Luke Barr (56.53) also qualified for their Olympic Trials cuts.

Taking a close finish for seventh was Collin Schuster with a time of 56.92, followed by .01 of a second by Mark McCrary with a time of 56.93.

Winning the B final and claiming an Olympic Trials cut in this evening’s 100 backstroke was Aaron Sequeira with a time of 56.44.

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Women’s 4×200 Freestyle Relay 

Leading the field by over three seconds was the Long Island Aquatic Club with swimmers Tess Howley, Bella Antoniuk, Lauryn Johnson and Chloe Stepanek. The Long Island swimmers took the gold with a time of 8:10.57.

Coming in second with a time of 8:13.96 was Brea Aquatics with swimmers Zephy Koh, Emily Trieu, Marly Lough and Justina Kozan.

In third was SwimMac Carolina with swimmers Faith Hefner, Kensley Merritt, Morgan Razewski and Elizabeth Sowards with a time of 8:14.34.

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