Weir’s Visnic named all-state swimmer

CHAMPIONSHIP EFFORT — Weir High’s Wil Visnic competes in the 200 freestyle on Friday at the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission state swim meet in Morgantown. Visnic won a state title in the event. (Staff photo)

MORGANTOWN — Championship Friday at the West Virginia University Natatorium brought medals of gold to Weir High’s Wil Visnic and Wheeling Park’s Charles Schellhase.

Visnic, a senior, swam a 1:48.12 to be crowned state champion in the 200-yard freestyle, topping second-place Schellhase in the event by 2.2 seconds. Visnic later also finished second in the 100 butterfly.

Schellhase, a junior, won the 500-yard freestyle going away, as his 5:01.51 was 7.29 seconds faster than his nearest competitor, George Washington High’s Robbie Hageboeck. Schellhase is the first individual boys champion in Wheeling Park’s history, coach Patrick Durkin said.

Both swimmers were named all-state for their performances.

Weir High coach John McGowan said the friendly rivalry – and respect – that has formed between Visnic and Schellhase over the past few years has led both to be better swimmers.

“Wil and Chuckie Schellhase have really formed a good bond and a good rivalry — they push each other, and in this sport, you always do your best when someone is pushing you,” McGowan said. “It’s been fun to watch the two of them compete in dual meets, OVACs, regionals and at states. I’m glad to see both of them earn state championships.”

Overall, Park finished third in the team event, riding Schellhase’s swims – he set a school record in the 200 free — and the work of junior Caleb Lucas, who finished third in the 100 free at 49.9, breaking the school record in the process. Lucas also finished eighth in the 200-yard individual medley at 2:13.3.

George Washington won the team competition, followed by Parkersburg High School.

Wheeling Park’s Durkin said his swimmers gave their all Friday.

“We really can’t be disappointed with two third-place finishes today,” he said of his boys and girls squads. “We swam hard, gave it our all, set a number of personal bests and even broke a couple school records. It was a great season and I’m very proud of all we’ve accomplished. We just ran into some teams (Friday) that had swimmers determined to win.”

He also commended Schellhase for all his hard work during the swim season. “Chuckie was motivated this year, he worked hard, he pushed himself and it paid off. I could not have asked any more from him than what he gave this season.”

Other Park finishers included junior Alex Dague, sixth in the 100-yard breaststroke at 1:06.14 and 12th in the 200 IM; the 200 freestyle relay team of Lucas, Manaved Kuttan, Nicholas DeFazio and Schellhase finished sixth; and the 200 medley relay of Devanand Kuttan, Dague, Max Kellas and Manaved Kuttan finished eighth.

Other local finishers

John Marshall’s Creed Kidney turned in the performance of the day with his seventh-place finish in the 200 free at 1:57.53, dropping a handful of seconds. He gave so much during his swim that he had to be helped from the pool. Kidney dropped more than 11 seconds during the two-day event.

Brooke High saw a number of swimmers score in the championship finals, with Noah Horvath picking up a fifth-place finish in the 100 back at 1:00.12 and a sixth in the 200 IM at 2:11.64. Teammate Ethan Robey placed fifth in the 500 freestyle at 5:20.29 and 10th in the 100 breast, 1:09.02. The 200 medley relay team of Horvath, Robey, Joe Siudak and Anthony Taylor placed seventh in 1:51.31. Brooke finished tied for 11th place overall.

Along with Visnic’s placings, Weir said Michael Miller place eighth in the 100 breast at 1:08.05, and the 200 free relay team of Visnic, Boston Beatty, Miller and Chris Hoover placed 11th. Weir finished in a solid 10th.

McGowan said Visnic’s teamwork and leadership will be hard for the team to replace.

“He’s a tremendous worker, and he’s very much been a team player,” McGowan said of Visnic. “He’s swam basically every event for us except the breaststroke, and he’s never questioned why we’ve placed him in an event. He’s the one that if I had a spot I needed to fill, I could put him there and he would never say a word about it. … He does everything you ask of him.

“Wil qualified for states in two individual events as a freshman, junior and senior, and during his sophomore year, we needed him to swim relays, so he only swam one event at states. How do we replace that? We can’t — it would take four or five swimmers to replace him. He’s a team leader, and the other swimmers always look to him. You can never replace that.”