By Meredith Roberts // Contributor | Saturday, December 10, 2016
The last night of competition for Winter Junior Championships East and West seemed to belong to the breaststrokers. Reece Whitley stunned the crowd in Columbus, Ohio with his new 15-16 NAG record in the 200 Breast. He crushed the previous record by over a second and put himself six seconds ahead of the field with his time of 1:52.37. Zoe Bartel answered for the West by swimming a new 15-16 NAG record in 2:07.73. The previous record had been held by Olympian Caitlin Leverenz.
Not to be outdone, the mile swimmers showed serious time drops. Trey Freeman dropped 20 seconds to turn in a top ten 15-16 performance in history time of 14:59.33. At Juniors-West Zach Yeadon also dropped 20 seconds for his time of 14:49.90. Taylor Ault (16:07.92) and Gabrielle Kopenski (16:08.92) picked up more meet hardware by going 1 and 2.
Alex Walsh, fresh off setting a new NAG record last night in the 100 Breast, picked up yet another meet gold in the 200 Back. by going 1:53.70. Regan Smith, who also won the 100 fly last night went a 1:51.79. That makes her fourth gold medal of Juniors-West.
Ryan Hoffer proved his speed again by easily winning the 100 free in 41.71. For the boys at Juniors-East, it took a 43 to get on the podium. Drew Kibler swam to victory in 43.14 while Jack Walker (43.52) and Jack Franzman (43.54) got second and third with only two one hundredths of a second separating the two.
In the girls 100 Free, Isabel Ivey from the Gator Swim Club claimed victory with an impressive 47.88. Morgan Tankersley of Greater Tampa Swimming Association was runner-up in 48.85. Eva Merrell of the Aquazot Swim Club picked up the win in the west in 48.51.
In the 200 Fly, Ruby Martin of the Iowa Flyers blasted a 1:54.74 at Juniors West. That puts her in the top five performers of all time for the 15-16 age group. Taylor Pike was right behind Martin to take second in 1:54.95. Olivia Carter won the East in 1:55.78. Brooke Forde, who won the 200 Breast in the previous event, was able to come on strong to snag silver.
For the men, it was an extremely tight race at both meets. Jack LeVant grabbed gold in 1:45.20 with Andrew Koustik six one hundredths behind for silver (1:45.26). At Juniors-East, victory was separated by 11 one hundredths. Spencer Karl (1:44.10) from Michigan Lakeshore edged out Nicolas Albiero (1:44.21) for the gold.The 400 Free Relay was the last event of the night and the last race of the entire meet. The Scottsdale Aquatic Club dominated again going a 2:57.84. That makes a full relay sweep for Scottsdale. For the ladies, Fort Collins Area Swim Team edged out the Aquazots in 3:19.85 to be number one. In the East, Bolles went out with another relay victory in 2:58.32.