Weir High’s Hoover swims to third place at championships
MORGANTOWN — Weir High’s Chris Hoover capped a stellar high school swimming career with a pair of top seven finishes Friday in the finals of the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission State Swimming Championships.
Hoover finished third in the 200 freestyle at 1:51.75. He also placed seventh in the 100 freestyle.
“It’s a dream come true. Every morning this summer, waking up and doing doubles (swim practices), just to see it all pay off this year, especially after a tough year last year, it’s just amazing,” Hoover said.
Brooke saw a number of solid swims Friday in the finals. Ethan Robey finished sixth in the 500 freestyle, and he also finished ninth in the 100 breaststroke.
Brooke’s Veronica Mann finished sixth in the 200 freestyle and also finished 10th in the 100 freestyle.
The Bruins’ John Francis finished ninth in the 200 Individual Medley, and Jacob Donley swam to two 11th-place finishes in the 200 IM and the 500 freestyle.
Overall, Brooke finished ninth in the boys competition.
In the region, three state swim champions were crowned Friday, as Wheeling Park’s Abby Turner and Jenna Bopp, along with John Marshall’s Victoria Kidney, earned individual titles.
Following a narrow, second-place finish in the 50 freestyle, Turner showed the heart of a champion just minutes later in the 100 freestyle, winning her third state championship by .06 seconds.
Turner and Buckhannon-Upshur freshman sprinter Cadence Vincent battled back and forth in both the 50 and the 100 freestyle. Vincent captured the 50 free at 23.69 to Turner’s 23.98, while in the 100 Turner led from start to finish to win the state title, 51.65 to 51.71.
Turner’s 100 time missed the state meet mark by .04 seconds. Her swim at the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission State Swimming Championships at the Aquatic Center at Mylan Park capped a junior season that continued her dominance in the sprint events among West Virginia’s female swimmers.
“It was a great relief to know that the hard work I’ve put in all season paid off,” Turner said.
Turner’s victory in the 100 freestyle kicked off a spate of wins for Northern Panhandle swimmers.
In the 100 backstroke, Kidney won the event by nearly three seconds, posting a 57.60. And, in the 100 breaststroke, Bopp topped the field in 1:04.36 to earn her first state crown, breaking her own school and state meet records in the process.
Bopp, like Turner in the freestyle sprints, has established herself as the swimmer to beat in West Virginia in the breaststroke. In Friday’s final, defending state champion Jayden Welsh of Parkersburg started strong and had an early lead, but Bopp caught her at the halfway point and then didn’t let up in posting a more than two second win.
“I’m just really happy and really pleased with all that we accomplished and all that we did today,” Bopp said.
Kidney, for her part, dominated both the preliminary and the finals in the 100 backstroke. The Monarch swimmer said she has plenty to continue working for over the coming years.
“I’m really excited,” Kidney said of winning her first state championship. “I was hoping to better my time from the preliminaries, and being able to do that was really special.”
To go along with her win in the backstroke, Kidney finished second in the 200 Individual Medley. Bopp finished fourth in the same event.
The Park girls finished third overall. Along with Turner and Bopp, freshman Lacie Langmyer finished fourth in the 500 freestyle (5:26.46) and fourth in the 200 freestyle (2:01.04); the 200 medley relay team of Turner, Bopp, Langmyer and Maddie Ross finished third; the 200 freestyle relay squad of Emma Delk, Ally Franko, Maddie Ross and Rachel Simon finished 10th; Ross finished ninth in the 100 backstroke; and the 400 freestyle relay team of Bopp, Turner, Ross and Langmyer finished fourth.
Wheeling Park coach Pat Durkin, who coached his last meet Friday, said he couldn’t think of a better way to go out than to crown two individual state champions and for the girls to finish in the top three.
“To have Abby set a school record and just miss a state record, to have Jenna set a school record and set a new state record, to have both of them win state titles, that’s just outstanding. I couldn’t have asked for any more from this team than they gave today,” he said.
John Marshall coach Courtney Wheeling praised Kidney for her swims Friday. “Victoria’s IM was amazing, she set her best time in that. And then the backstroke with the win and a great time … She’s just amazing,” Wheeling said.
Wheeling Park’s Devanand Kuttan ended a solid high school career Friday, as the senior swimmer broke his own school record by finishing fourth in the 100 backstroke (56.95). He also finished third in the 200 IM at 2:07.55.
Junior Isaac McCabe brought home a pair of sixth-place finishes in the 100 free and the 100 breast, while sophomore Owen Leary finished eighth in the 100 butterfly, and senior Max Kellas finished 10th in the 100 fly.
Kuttan, McCabe, Leary and Kellas broke their own school record by finishing third in the 200 medley relay at 1:44.76, and the same four finished fourth in the 400 freestyle relay.
Overall, the Park boys finished fourth, edging out Huntington High by one point.
Durkin praised the Park boys for their hard work on Friday and throughout the season.
“They all swam really well today. Everybody worked hard and brought their best. We finished where we thought we would, and that’s all we can ask for,” he said.