Over 900 swimmers representing about 35 teams competed at the Winter Age Group Championships on Coronado Island in San Diego over the third weekend of December, and our group of 23 TNT swimmers finished among the top-9 scoring teams at the meet. A total of 652 points from individual events were generated by fifteen of our swimmers, led by Drew Black who had the busiest schedule by earning a second swim in the maximum number of events that a swimmer may enter, and generating 140 points at the meet. Although our team didn’t field a single individual event champion, Drew managed to earn three runner-up positions, and was our only swimmer with a 2nd place in any individual event finishing second in the 10-under 100 free (1:00.96), 50 fly (30.77), and 50 free (28.19). Our next highest point getter was Lemoore’s Michelle Murphy, and she accumulated 98 points by earning a second swim in six of her nine events, and scoring in all nine. Her highest finish was 4th in the 10-under 50 freestyle where she posted a time of 29.14 while competing in her first Winter Age Group Championship meet. Besides Drew Black, only two other swimmers came away with a finish as high as 3rd place, and Ava Olson was one of them. At 79 points, Ava also generated the third highest points from individual events, and placed 3rd in the 12-under 200 fly with a time of 2:22.55.
Our remaining finalists include Hanford’s Addison Mccullough at 67 points by scoring in all nine events, her highest place being 7th in the 10-under 50 breast where she posted a time of 40.29 in the preliminary heats. Next was Selma’s Sienna Abernathy, who was the other 3rd place finisher, and doing so in the 10-under 100 free with a time of 1:04.08, and accumulating 64 points across the three days. Bryan Wong competed at the bottom of the 13-14 age division, and scored 59 points with his highest place being 4th in both the 400 IM (4:23.94), and 200 breast (2:16.34) events. Peyton Costa scored in seven of his nine events, with his highest finish being 4th in the 100 free (51.25). Bryce Wong finished 7th in the 15-18 200 fly with a time of 2:02.83, and scored 25 points total, while younger sister, Alexa Wong accumulated 18 points while competing at the bottom of the 11-12 girls division, and having her highest finish as 11th in the 100 fly with a time of 1:06.91. Visalia’s Janessa Bringe brought in 17 points and scored in 9th place as her highest finish in the 13-over 1650 freestyle with a lifetime best of 18:16.49, while Hanford’s Thomas Matthews raked in 12 points for the 11-12 boys division, placing 7th in the 12-under 200 fly, swimming the short course event for the first time, and posting a 2:48.26 as his time. Selma’s Trent Reiger scored in the 11-12 boys 50 fly, earning his final swim, and 10th place finish, while competing at his first Winter Age Group Championships, and posting a time of 30.10. Seventeen year old Brett Wong also placed 10th in 15-18 200 fly with his lifetime best of 2:04.86, while a Visalia duo of Ciara Clarke, and Ella Bettencourt each scored in multiple events, Ciara having her highest finish as 13th in the 11-12 girls 50 fly (29.85), while Ella finished 15th as her highest place in both the 11-12 girls 50 breast (35.60), and 100 breast (1:18.09).
Visalia’s Ella Bettencourt was also one of only three swimmers who improved 100% of their times while competing at the meet. She improved all six events she entered, with the largest improvement exceeding three seconds in the 100 breaststroke. Another swimmer with a 100% improvement rate was Selma’s Daniel Haley who entered seven events, and improved all seven, and dropping over twelve seconds in the 1000 freestyle. Hanford’s Isabella Klawitter was our final swimmer who maintained 100% improvement, and she did this by entering and improving the 50, 100, 200 and 500 freestyle events. Her largest drop was nearly thirty-one seconds in the 500 freestyle. Fourteen additional swimmers improved 50% or more of their times, and these included: Peyton Costa (89%), Ava Olson (89%), Ciara Clarke (86%), Alexa Wong (83%), Dylan Hunt (80%), Drew Black (78%), Michelle Murphy (78%), Madalynn Lady (75%), Brett Wong (67%), Bryan Wong (60%), Janessa Bringe (50%), Ashton King (50%), Thomas Matthews (50%), and Bryce Wong (50%).
Congratulations for qualifying, and competing at their first Winter Age Group Championships, goes to ten-year old Maguire Barteau whose highest finish was 21st in the 50 backstroke, and twelve year old Amy Murphy whose highest finish was 31st in the 12-under 200 breaststroke. Congratulations also go to Katherine Sullivan whose highest place was 20th in the 15-18 girls 200 butterfly event.
Although TNT swimmers began a regular appearance to Junior Nationals back in 2005, TNT’s last representation at any Junior National meet was the summer of 2016 when Mallory Korenwinder competed at the Summer Junior National meet in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After missing an appearance at the 2016 Winter Juniors, and 2017 Summer Juniors, four of our athletes constituted one of the largest teams at any Junior National meet, all four qualifying for their first Junior National level of competition. In order of qualifying, Preston Niayesh, JD Koster, Visalia’s Megan Ridenour, and 14-year old Danielle Albright all join the ranks of Kohlton Norys, Megan Eppler, Samantha Goates, Mallory Korenwinder, Chris Nolan, Bradley Matsumoto, Wesley Coles, Micha Storey, Lauren Davis, Jillian Hatch and Sierra Jett as USA Swimming Junior National qualifiers for TNT.
During this year’s meet at the University of Iowa, JD Koster came away with our team’s highest place, and being the only swimmer to improve at the meet, and doing so in both his qualified 200 fly event, swimming a time of 1:50.99 (a four second improvement), and also improving his 100 fly time trial event (51.48). Visalia’s Megan Ridenour had our next highest finish at 85th in the 100 breaststroke, with a time of 1:05.01, placing just ahead of the 86th place finish of Danielle Albright who swam a time of 1:05.02. Preston Niayesh competed in both the 100 and 200 breaststroke, and finished 130th in the 200 breast event.
Six TNT swimmers qualified for, and competed at the 69th annual Husky Invitational that took place over the first weekend of December in the swim complex located in Federal Way, Washington near Seattle, and one swimmer placed TNT on the scoreboard at this senior-level meet. Alonso Escobedo scored six points by finishing in a scoring position of 19th in the 400 IM after swimming a time of 4:10.38 in the preliminary heats, and nearly repeating the swim with a time of 4:10.91 in finals. He had also earned a second swim in the 200 yard backstroke in the D-final, and posting a lifetime best of 1:56.81 there while placing 28th.
Selma’s Jonas Huckabay was our next highest placed finisher after posting a lifetime best by nearly ten seconds in the 1650. His time of 16:43.01 was fast enough for a 28th place finish in the time-based final in that event.
Our top performance in terms of time improvement goes to 14-year old Visalia swimmer, Layla Flores who improved four of her six events. Her highest finish was 54th in the 100 yard breaststroke where she posted a time of 1:08.53. The next highest finisher went to her training partner from Visalia, Janessa Bringe, who finished 65th in the 500 free (5:16.04). Selma’s Maya Herrera finished 137th in the 50 free (25.49), while her Selma training partner, Emma Pena, finished 148th in the same event (25.60).
Nearly 400 swimmers competed at the Dowain Wright Memorial swim meet hosted at the Bullard High School pool in Fresno over the November 18th – 19th weekend where 72 TNT swimmers were the third largest team at the meet, and who contributed to the team’s 2nd place finish behind Clovis, and ahead of Fresno Dolphins. This was our final swim meet moving into the winter championship-level meets that include the Winter Age Group Championships in San Diego, Husky Invitational in Washington state, and Junior Nationals in Idaho.
Two of our swimmers came away with High Point recognition within their respective age and gender divisions. These went to Visalia’s Carson Clarke who came home with the plaque for the 6-under boys division by scoring 27 points. Carson was the event champion in three of his four events that included the 50 free (51.01), 25 free (22.53), and 25 back (25.15). Tule Nation Tritons is also proud of our runner-up in the division. Hanford’s James Lady was the next highest point getter at the meet in the division. Our only other high point recipient was Drew Black who was uncontested in six of her seven events at the meet, winning the 100 free (1:02.99), 50 breast (39.02), 200 IM (2:34.78), 100 fly (1:09.81), 50 back (33.96), and 100 IM (1:16.18) events. Tule Nation Triton swimmers were the top two point-getters in this division as well with Lemoore’s Michelle Murphy scoring only two points behind Drew among 24 athletes in the division. Michelle was the event champion for the 50 fly (33.83), 100 back (1:19.76), and 50 free (30.86) events.
Other High Point runner-ups included Ava Olson in the 11-12 girls division who was the event champion for the 200 IM (2:28.07), and her Selma counterpart, William Butts who was the 11-12 boy’s runner up, and event champion in the 50 back (33.77). Additional event champions at the meet included Visalia’s 12-year old Ella Bettencourt (50 fly - 30.46), Visalia’s 16-year old Janessa Bringe (400 IM – 5:01.15, 200 fly – 2:17.66 & 200 IM – 2:20.50), and her team mate, 14-year old Layla Flores (50 free – 25.73 & 500 free – 5:26.99), 7-year old Regan Hildreth (50 breast – 48.78), Visalia’s 16-year old Megan Ridenour (500 free – 5:43.58), and Selma’s 12-year old Chesney Watson (500 free – 5:42.23).
Eleven TNT swimmers maintained a 100% improvement rate for 50-yard events and longer, and this recognition goes to: Carson Clarke (1 of 1), Shannell Flores (3 of 3), Kate Geiger (6 of 6), Daniel Haley (6 of 6), Regan Hildreth (4 of 4), James Lady (1 of 1), Rita Rasner (3 of 3), Clara Shinn (2 of 2), Liam Shinn (3 of 3), Chesney Watson (4 of 4), and Ava Wofford (2 of 2). A welcome goes to Alexis Bilotti, Spencer Eastman-Gmez, Danielle Hager, Gabrielle Mendoza, Noah Ortega, Sebastian Ortega, and Reece Phillips for posting all new times with the team.
Thirteen TNT swimmers traveled to Huntington Beach over the first weekend of November to compete at the senior-level meet there, and five of our swimmers came away with second swims, led by Visalia’s Megan Ridenour who had our highest place finish of 7th in the championship final of the 100 yard breaststroke where she posted a life-time best of 1:04.02 in the preliminary heats, and establishing her first Winter Junior National qualifying time. Our Winter Junior National team doubled in size from two to four with Megan’s swim, and Danielle Albright’s swim in the same event, also during the preliminary heats. Danielle posted a time of 1:04.24 in the prelims that was fast enough for a 9th place finish, and new Winter Junior National cut. Based on a scratch, Danielle was able to compete in the championship field where she finished 8th. The two new Winter Junior National qualifiers will join Preston Niayesh, and JD Koster as they travel to the University of Iowa over the second weekend of December, all of whom will compete in their first Junior National meet.
Danielle Albright was one of three TNT swimmers who earned a second swim in two events while at the Kevin Perry meet, her other events being in the 200 yard breaststroke where she posted a lifetime best of 2:22.05 in the preliminary heats which was fast enough for a consolation spot where she finished 16th. Another double-finalist was JD Koster whose highest finish was 16th in the consolation heat of the 400 IM where he posted a lifetime best of 4:09.06 in the preliminary heats, and then swam 4:15.61 in finals. His second final was in a bonus heat of the 200 fly after swimming another lifetime best of 1:54.99 in the preliminary heats, and then 1:55.60 in finals to finish 23rd. Preston Niayesh was our only other double finalist, and he earned two consolation swims with his highest place being 11th in the 100 breaststroke where he posted a time of 58.23 after swimming a 58.46 in the preliminary heats. The 58.23, although not necessarily his fastest time when considering high school competition, is a new team record going under his previous record of 58.34 that he posted at Sectional in March of this year. His 200 yard breaststroke preliminary swim of 2:06.99 was over a five second improvement to take him 14th into the consolation final, where he moved up one place to 13th and posted a 2:08.20 for his time. His preliminary swim was also a new team record, and fell just over a second under Nathan Rhea’s 2:08.01 posted at Sectionals in 2012. Preston’s new team records ranks 25th and 21st nationally for boys at age 16 within the most current reporting cycle. Our remaining finalist was Alonso Escobedo who improved over five seconds in the 400 IM of the preliminary heats to a 4:09.30 and 16th place there, and moved up one place to 15th with a time of 4:09.56.
Our additional competitors, along with their highest place event include: Janessa Bringe (40th in the 1000 free), Peyton Costa (117th in the 100 back), Layla Flores (58th in the 100 breast), Jonas Huckabay (57th in the 1000 free), Garrison Price (35th in the 100 & 200 fly), Brett Wong (91st in the 50 free), Bryan Wong (64th in the 200 breast), and Bryce Wong (44th in the 400 IM).