West Virginia Swimming and Diving Opens Up Brand New Natatorium at WV State Games

West Virginia's brand new facility. Photo Courtesy: West Virginia Athletics

In the first official meet at the Aquatic Center at Mylan Park, the West Virginia swimming and diving teams started strong and never looked back on the opening night of the West Virginia State Games on Friday night in Morgantown.

The Mountaineers combined to win 17 of 18 events in the first session, tallying a total of 1,557.5 team points, with the men contributing 908.50 and the women grabbing 649.


“This was a really exciting night,” West Virginia swimming and diving coach Vic Riggs said. “I thought our energy and racing was very good. To finally be able to race in our new home was great. As a team, we swam really well, and we’ll look to continue that tomorrow.”

“Today was a great day for our divers,” diving coach Michael Grapner said. “This really sets the standard for the team this year, and they really set the bar high. I’m thrilled for Holly (Darling), Callie (Smith) and Nick (Cover) for achieving their NCAA Zones scores, but I’m really happy for the entire squad. Their energy was high, the attitude was positive, and you could tell they were diving with pride. It’s going to be a great year.”

Senior Morgan Bullock and juniors David Dixon and Angelo Russo led the way with three wins apiece. Dixon collected two individual victories and one relay win, while Bullock and Russo grabbed one individual race and two relays. Eighteen different Mountaineers tallied victories on the opening night of competition.

The women’s 200-yard medley relay acted as the first competitive event in the Mountaineers’ new home at Mylan Park. The WVU team of junior Ally VanNetta, freshman Tatum Peyerl, Bullock and freshman Emily Haimes took first place with a time of 1:45.29.

In the men’s event, WVU quickly tallied its second win of the night as Russo, sophomore Fausto Huerta, Dixon and freshman Hunter Armstrong finished in 1:28.56.

Senior Alex Pampalone grabbed the first individual victory of the night in the 1,000-yard freestyle, touching the wall in 10:27.25. Sophomore Lauryn Kallay was second with a time of (10:31.21).

For the men, freshman Zach Boley earned the first victory of his collegiate career, touching the wall in 9:42.77, ahead of senior Brandon Christian in second (9:52.07) and freshman Jonathan Bennett in third (9:56.97).

Marshall’s Catherine Bendziewicz narrowly edged WVU in the 200 free, as Bullock took second place in 1:52.31, just .01 seconds behind Bendziewicz. Junior Giselle Gursoy was close behind in third (1:52.44).

Dixon collected his first individual win in the men’s 200 free, touching the pads in 1:40.63, ahead of a Mountaineer sweep of the top five spots. Junior Max Gustafson was second (1:41.17) and senior Ryan Kelly took third (1:43.32).

In the 100-yard backstroke, VanNetta and Russo picked up their first individual wins of the night, as VanNetta finished in 57.16 in the women’s event and Russo tallied a 48.27 on the men’s side.

A pair of freshmen topped the leaderboard for WVU in the 100 breaststroke, as freshmen Mathilde Kaelbel and Tatum Peyerl finished first and second with times of 1:05.62 and 1:06.22, respectively. The victory was Kaelbel’s first of her Mountaineer career.

Huerta grabbed his first individual victory of the evening in the men’s 100 breast, touching the wall in 55.71, ahead of freshman Conrad Molinaro in second (57.52).

Next up, Bullock claimed a victory in the women’s 200 butterfly. The program record holder in the event, Bullock recorded a time of 2:02.44. Behind her was sophomore Reka Kovacs with a time of 2:08.85.

The Mountaineer men claimed the top nine spots in the 200 fly, led by Dixon with a time of 1:45.41 for his third win of the night. Senior Trayton Saladin was second (1:51.18), and classmate Jack Frazier was third (1:55.14).

Senior Julia Nilton picked up her first victory of the contest in the final of eight action-packed heats for the women’s 50 free. Nilton, who owns the WVU school record in the event, touched the pads in 23.53, just ahead of Haimes in second with 23.56.

Armstrong took the men’s race, finishing in 20.29, ahead of junior Ryen van Wyk (20.80) and senior Sam Neaveill (21.16), as WVU claimed the top six spots.

On springboard, freshman Holly Darling captured her first collegiate victory on 3-meter with a finals score of 313.58. Junior Callie Smith was second with a 277.20, and freshman Marian Tiemeier was third (247.73).

For the men, sophomore Nick Cover tallied his second consecutive victory on 3-meter with a finals score of 339.75. Redshirt senior Austin Smith was second, notching a 310.95 in his first competitive action since the 2017-18 season. Redshirt sophomores Jacob Cardinal-Tremblay and Jake Lowe were third (309.90) and fourth (298.88), respectively.

The first night of competition concluded with the 400 free relay, where the Mountaineer team of Haimes, Bullock, Gursoy and Nilton led the way in the women’s event, tallying a time of 3:29.50. Van Wyk, Gustafson, Russo and Saladin took first place on the men’s side, capturing the victory with a time of 3:03.18.

The Mountaineer men have never lost at the West Virginia State Games, while the women’s team has been defeated only once.

WVU is hosting the meet for the fifth time and first since 2017. Friday’s competition served as the inaugural meet in the Mountaineers’ new home at the Aquatic Center at Mylan Park. The facility officially opened earlier Friday afternoon with an opening ceremony and dedication, as well as a ceremonial first swim and dive from members of the Mountaineer squads.

The West Virginia State Games conclude Saturday morning, with action at the Aquatic Center set to begin at 11 a.m. ET.

— The above press release was posted by Swimming World in conjunction with West Virginia Swimming and Diving. For press releases and advertising inquiries please contact Advertising@SwimmingWorld.com.


  1. Jim Bowser

    Nice looking place to add to swimming and Diving training

  2. Donna Koch

    Wish I was still competeing❣

  3. Katie Kuhl

    Michelle Walters Kuhl they finally did it!