USA Swimming Junior Nationals: Reece Whitley’s NAG Highlights Night One

Editorial coverage for U.S. Junior Nationals proudly sponsored by Q Swimwear!

IRVINE, California, July 30. A whole host of meet records could be in the making tonight at the USA Swimming Junior Nationals in Irvine. Also, a few national age group records might take a tumble. Hit refresh for the latest coverage.



Women’s 200 fly

Photo Courtesy: Azaria Basile

Photo Courtesy: Azaria Basile

NBAC’s Easop Lee, 14, produced a sterling time of 2:10.40 to win the 200 fly tonight. That dropped a second off her 2:11.66 lifetime best from the Bulldog Grand Slam, and is the third-fastest time in the 13-14 age division. The great Mary T. Meagher owns the top time there with a 2:07.01 from 1979 that will likely never be touched. Chattahoochee Gold’s Lauren Case placed second in the finale with a time of 2:11.60, while Metro’s Isabella Paez finished third in 2:11.94. Don’t forget to look at the C final below, as the winner would have placed second in the championship heat.

Kingfish’s Madison Wright (2:12.33), Redlands’ Sonia Wang (2:12.72), Longhorn’s Victoria Edwards (2:12.99), SwimMAC’s Caitlin Casazza (2:14.40) and North Carolina’s Madison Homovich (2:16.44) also competed in the championship finale. Notably, Jasmine Tosky’s 2:09.28 from 2010 survived another year as the meet record.

Carmel’s Veronica Burchill claimed the B final win with a time of 2:13.10. That’s another second off her lifetime best of 2:14.19 set this morning in prelims. Patriot’s Jen Marrkand chased down second in the consolation heat with a 2:13.43, while Tampa Bay’s Christin Rockway snared third in 2:14.24.

Crown Point’s Hannah Kukurugya topped the C final in a time of 2:10.64. That’s a three-second drop from her personal best 2:13.83 from a month ago. Walnut Creek’s Brittany Usinger placed second in the C final with a 2:13.95, while Beach Cities’ Jasmine Margetts posted a time of 2:14.58.

For some reference points, the top 20 in the world currently is anchored by Sakiko Shimizu with a 2:09.19 from the Japan Open. The 2:10s by Lee and Kukurugya are just more than a second off that international-level time, which is pretty special considering we’re talking about a junior national event here.

Men’s 200 fly

Photo Courtesy: Angus Smith

Photo Courtesy: Angus Smith

Aquazot’s Corey Okubo could not replicate the speed he had last year in the 200 fly as he won tonight in 1:58.30. That’s just off his lifetime best of 1:58.28 from his swim in Irvine a year ago. But, it was more than enough to win tonight as Upper Dublin’s Michael Thomas took second in 1:59.11 with Pleasanton’s Maxime Rooney also beating 2:00 with a third-place effort of 1:59.26. Arizona Gold’s Mark Jurek raced to fourth in 1:59.41 as he also cleared 2:00.

NBAC’s Cole Buese (2:00.20), KING’s Mathias Oh (2:00.34), Executive’s Matthew Grauslys (2:01.56) and Huntsville’s Zach Harting (2:01.91) also competed for the national title with Oh having a bit of a fly-and-die strategy as he went out under meet-record pace with a 56.44 at the 100. He was unable to keep up with the pace that Andrew Seliskar used to win last year as his 1:56.54 meet record will last another year.

Aquazot’s Chris Taber cleared 2:01 for the first time with a 2:00.72 to win the B final this evening. That’s better than his 2:01.46 personal best set in prelims. Indiana University’s Max Irwin hit the wall second in 2:01.50 with Wilton Y’s Ian Rainey and Tule Nation Triton Chris Nolan tying for third in the consolation heat with 2:01.99s.

In a close contest in the C final, Birmingham’s Will Freeman tracked down the heat win in 2:01.11 with Tualatin’s Patrick Mulcare claiming second in 2:01.28. Northern Kentucky Clipper Brendan Meyer also posted a 2:01. with a 2:01.69. Freeman entered the swim with a lifetime best of 2:02.51 from this morning.

Women’s 100 breast

Photo Courtesy: Angus Smith

Photo Courtesy: Angus Smith

JCC Sailfish Lauren Barber led a quartet of swimmers in the 1:09s with a winning effort of 1:09.72. This morning, she clocked a lifetime best of 1:10.21, and tonight she managed to break through that 1:10 barrier. KING’s Carolyn McCann chased down second-place honors with a time of 1:09.84, while Roadrunner’s Jorie Caneta finished third in the finale with a 1:09.88. Atlantis’ Lindsey Horejsi also put up a 1:09 to take fourth in 1:09.89.

Central Bucks’ Allie Szekely (1:10.12), Shorewood’s Rachel Munson (1:10.19), Canyons’ Nikol Popov (1:10.30) and Highbridge’s Madison Winstead (1:11.01) also battled in the championship heat. Kasey Carlson’s meet record of 1:08.29 had looked to be in trouble this morning, but will add another year to its reign since 2008.

Aspen’s Emma Cain, 14, powered her way to a strong B final win in 1:10.89. This morning, she just missed breaking 1:11 for the first time with a 1:11.00, and tonight she raced right through that barrier. Rose Bowl’s Kirsten Vose took second in 1:11.10 with Loveland’s Morgan Friesen also with a 1:11 as she posted a 1:11.42 for third in the consolation heat.

Fort Collins’ Zoe Bartel edged Nashville’s Tatum Wade in the C final, 1:11.19 to 1:11.35. That clipped 13-year-old Bartel’s lifetime best of 1:11.68 set this morning, while Wade also edged a best of 1:11.39 from July. Marin Pirate Riley Scott placed third in the bonus consolation heat with a 1:12.01.

Men’s 100 breast

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

Clovis’ Connor Hoppe chased down Canyon’s Peter Kropp down the stretch, winning the junior national title 1:02.17 to 1:02.32. That’s Hoppe’s first time under 1:03, breaking his previous personal mark of 1:03.18 from prelims. Kropp missed his best of 1:02.21 set during prelims. Avon’s Chandler Bray rounded out the top three in 1:02.87 with Arkansas Dolphin Blair Bish picking up fourth in 1:02.88.

Cardinal’s Todd Owen (1:02.95), PASA’s Curtis Ogren (1:03.13), Greater Omaha’s Jacob Molacek (1:03.55) and Heat’s Ross Palazzo (1:03.67) turned in the rest of the championship heat swims. Carsten Vissering’s meet record held up as his 1:01.94 from last year will make it another year.

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

Penn Charter’s Reece Whitley took down his 13-14 National Age Group record with a winning time of 1:03.23.  Two weeks ago, he broke Michael Andrew’s 1:03.83 with a new record time of 1:03.82 (30.46, 33.36).  Tonight, he blasted half-a-second from the record ahead of Andrew’s second-place time of 1:03.49.  PASA’s Joe Kmak took third in 1:03.60.

Long Island’s Gunther Cassell had too much in the tank as he powered his way to a 1:03.40 to win the C final. That cut half-a-second off his lifetime best of 1:03.94 from the Mesa stop of the Arena Grand Prix. Stingrays’ Ben Hendrickson took second in 1:03.51 with Arizona Marlin Matt Anderson third in 1:03.75.

Women’s 800 free

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

Sierra Schmidt smashed the field in the final heat, and had enough speed to take down the 8:36.82 clocked by North Carolina’s Madison Homovich in the earlier heats as Schmidt won in 8:34.58. That’s a five-second drop for Schmidt, blasting her lifetime best of 8:39.28 from the Bulldog Grand Slam. Homovich’s best had been an 8:48.69 from the Charlotte stop of the Arena Grand Prix. Amanda Nunen took third in the distance event with a time of 8:42.84.

BNY’s Melissa Pish (8:43.22), SwimFlorida’s Kendall Brent (8:43.27), Indiana University’s Stephanie Marchuk (8:43.31), Frisco’s Gabrielle Kopenski (8:43.80) and Nashville’s Elizabeth Stinson (8:44.29) rounded out the top eight podium-placers in the timed final event. No one challenged Gillian Ryan’s 2012 meet record of 8:30.84.

Men’s 1500 free

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

Photo Courtesy: Kristin Karkoska

It doesn’t happen often, but it happened tonight as Parkland’s Sam Magnan won the junior national title from the slower seeded heats. That’s a monstrous time drop for Magnan as he came into today with a lifetime best 15:56.56 from last year’s junior nationals. Nitro’s Taylor Abbott gave that winning time a run, and even gave the meet-record a try as he was two seconds under the pace about halfway through the race. But, Abbott settled for silver with a 15:29.88. That’s a huge drop for Abbott as well, down from his 15:43.08 from the Santa Clara stop of the Arena Grand Prix.

Marlins of Raleigh’s Adam Linker took third in 15:30.79, while 13-year-old Andrew Abruzzo of Germantown blasted a 15:36.03. That’s the second-best swim from a 13 year old behind Jesse Vassallo’s national age group record of 15:31.03 from 1976.

PS’ Grant Schenk (15:37.21), Wilton Y’s Stephen Holmquist (15:41.42), Team Santa Monica’s Brendan Casey (15:43.99) and Sarasota Y’s Carter Page (15:44.23) made up the rest of the top eight finishers in the timed final event.