Alex Walsh, Mona McSharry, Rhyan White and Ellen Walshe Sizzle at Tennessee Invitational

Alex Walsh -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Alex Walsh, Mona McSharry, Rhyan White and Ellen Walshe Sizzle at Tennessee Invitational

During the second evening of racing at the Tennessee Invitational, Virginia second-year Alex Walsh showed off her skills in the 400 IM, and fellow U.S. Olympian Rhyan White swam a swift 100 back for the Alabama Crimson Tide. Meanwhile, a pair of Tennessee swimmers and Irish Olympians recorded huge performances: sophomore Mona McSharry moved into the all-time top-10 in the women’s 100 breast, and freshman Ellen Walshe recorded the country’s top time in the 100 fly.

In the 400 IM, Walsh swam a 4:01.40, moving to No. 16 all-time in the 400 IM and surpassing the 4:01.57 that Brooke Forde swam to win the national title at last year’s NCAA Championships. UVA went 1-2-3 in the event as Ella Nelson (last year’s NCAA runnerup) swam a lifetime best of 4:02.19 for second and 400-meter IM Olympic silver medalist Emma Weyant placed third in 4:03.69. All three swimmers far surpassed the 4:03.72 that Forde swam earlier in the day at the NC State Invite a few hours east in Greensboro.

Last season, Walsh won the 200 IM at the NCAA Championships but did not finish in the top three in any other individual event. She took fifth in both the 200 free and 200 breast. Walsh has extensive versatility (including impressive backstroke skills), but she had not yet excelled in more than one event on the college level. Perhaps the 400 IM could become part of her repertoire, although Virginia will certainly score a lot of points in the event at NCAAs with or without the Nashville-native entered in the race.

Later on, Rhyan White swam a 50.31 to win the 100 back, with Arkansas’ Andrea Sansores (51.87) and Tennessee’s Josephine Fuller (52.15) taking second and third, respectively. White’s time ranks just behind Regan Smith’s 49.97 from the NC State meet in the early-season national rankings.

In the women’s 100 fly, Tennessee’s Ellen Walshe recorded a monster time of 50.24, crushing the field and beating out Torri Huske’s 50.30 from Greensboro as the country’s fastest time. She won by almost two seconds over Tennessee teammates Trude Rothrock (52.01) and Mallory Bell (52.12). Walshe’s time would have placed her third at last year’s NCAAs, with Maggie MacNeil and Kate Douglass the only swimmers to go faster. Walshe finished 24th in the 100-meter fly for Ireland at the Tokyo Olympics, but her first season in Knoxville is off to a huge start. At this meet, she previously placed second behind Douglass in the 200 IM (1:54.77) on Thursday.

Another Volunteer from Ireland put up a stunning swim in the 100 breast. Mona McSharry won the event in 57.46, beating the 57.80 she swam to finish fourth at NCAAs last year. McSharry’s time ties Kaitlyn Dobler for No. 8 all-time in the event, and it’s a bit faster than NCAA champion Sophie Hansson swam earlier in Greensboro (57.51). McSharry won a tight race against Alabama freshman Avery Wiseman, who placed second in 57.79, while Virginia’s Alexis Wenger took third in 58.32. Also for UVA, Douglass placed fourth in 58.64 while competing in an off-event.

Virginia’s Walsh (24.10), Wenger (26.27), Lexi Cuomo (22.90) and Douglass (20.89) won the 200 medley relay in 1:34.16, beating NC State’s time from Greensboro by 0.15. It was a fast field as Alabama’s White, Wiseman, Morgan Scott and Cora Dupre took second in 1:35.01, and Tennessee placed third with Fuller, McSharry, Walshe and AJ Kutsch in 1:35.89.

Tennessee’s Julie Mrozinski placed first in the 200 free in 1:44.83, ahead of Scott (1:45.95) and UVA’s Ella Bathurst (1:46.12), and then Scott led the Crimson Tide to an 800 free relay victory. Dupre led off in 1:43.93, and she was followed by Scott (1:46.91), Ashley Voelkerding (1:46.85) and Kalia Antoniou (1:46.37) on the way to a 7:04.06. Tennessee’s A-team took second in 7:07.02, and the Volunteers’ B-squad was third in 7:09.31. Virginia did not enter a squad in this event.

In the men’s meet, Alabama’s Matthew Menke (20.65), Derek Maas (22.97), Bernardo Bondra (20.55) and Jonathan Berneburg (19.21) swam an elite time of 1:23.38 to win the 200 medley relay, followed by Tennessee (1:24.69) and UNLV (1:25.31). Then, Kayky Mota won the 100 fly for Tennessee in 46.19, beating out Alabama duo of Bondra (46.49) and Mateo Miceli (46.53).

Bama’s Nicolas Perera held off a huge charge from UNLV’s Dominik Bujak to win the men’s 400 IM, 3:46.24 to 3:46.62, while Tennessee’s Gus Rothrock was third (3:48.33). Another Crimson Tide swimmer, Kaique Alves, dominated the 200 free by more than a second-and-a-half, winning in 1:33.56 over South Carolina’s Phil Costin (1:35.21) and UNLV’s Chris Mykkanen (1:35.26).

Maas won the 100 breast in 51.38 for Alabama, just ahead of Tennessee’s Jarel Dillard (51.68). Another Volunteer, Michael Houlie, took third in 52.34. Menke won the 100 back in 45.81, well ahead of UNLV’s Panos Bolanos (46.85) and Alabama’s Eric Stelmar (46.87).

Finally, Alabama’s Alves (1:34.39), Maas (1:36.91), Kacper Piotrowski (1:35.46) and Cam Auerbach (1:35.78) won the 800 free relay in 6:22.54. Tennessee placed second in 6:26.25, and Alabama’s B-team was third in 6:27.37.

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