PHS girls swimming goes back-to-back

Victory in 400 relay leaves Big?Reds top dogs again

Photo by Tyler Bennett Parkersburg High girls celebrate with the state championship trophy after a thrilling championship clinching win in the 400 Free Relay Friday inside the West Virginia University Natatorium. The Big Reds repeated at state champions.

MORGANTOWN — Trailing by one point going into the final event of the the WVSSAC State Swimming Championship, the Parkersburg Big Reds didn’t act like the moment was too big, winning the 400-yard relay with a time of 3:43.28, winning the state championship over state runner-up Bridgeport Saturday evening at the West Virginia University Natatorium.

“It was so much fun to win the 400 yard relay. I look at it as the fun event, it’s exciting, “ Grace Cox said. “I love my team. I’m so happy we got a two-peat.”

“Going into that last relay we were a point behind, but we also know that we had the top time and put all of our good girls in there,” Big Reds head coach Terry Nisewarner said. “We just ask them to get a good start and have no faults. And they did.”

University jumped out to a big early lead thanks to Jacqueline McCutchan, before George Washington, Bridgeport and the Big Reds caught up and overtook them.

Olivia Collett took the lead from George Washington’s Arinna Swint, as Cox and Jaden Welsh extended the lead even further winning comfortable.

The Big Reds got out of the gates fast, as the 200-yard medley relay team broke the state record in the first event of the day with a time of 1:50.52, breaking the previous record of 1:50.84. Mary Strobl kept it close with the leaders, before Welsh, Cox and Emma Padden pulled away from the competition.

Breaking the record in the first event gave the Big Reds a monumental confidence boost for the rest of the day.

“I was really excited for it, the medley relay kicked in us into gear. As soon as we broke the record, we were ready for the meet,” Welsh said.

The Big Reds won their second straight event with Cox dominating the 200-yard relay, taking the lead early and finishing with a time of 1:54.73

Walsh finished second to Spring Valley’s Elin Sodersten in the 200-yard IM with a time 2:12.55.

Later that evening, Welsh did it again breaking her own record from last year in a tight race with Wheeling Park’s Jenna Bopp during the 100-yard breaststroke. Both swimmer’s times would break the record, but Welsh was a little bit faster finishing with a time of 1:05.79.

“I’m proud of me as an individual because I knew I was close on my time and I really needed to push myself to get it. I was really excited to touch that (record) again,” Welsh said.

The Big Reds will be graduating only two seniors, Collett and Mariah Sands, so potentially they could be returning a strong core for next year. But according to coach Nisewarner, it’s going to be up to the team if they want Nisewarner to take a third jump into then pool or not.

“We have a chance next year definitely. Because we bring back a lot talent back, some kids are coming in to give us depth, “ Nisewarner said. “It’s up to the kids how hard they work. I think they will work hard, I think they enjoy it too much.”

Parkersburg South finished in 11th place with 39 points. It was a young team for head coach Steve Lutz. Representing the Patriots was junior Cassie Fink, sophomore Hailey Boothe, and freshman Alia Ott and Megan Meredith. The team’s best finish was fifth place in the 400-yard relay. Ott was ninth in the 100 backstroke while Boothe was 12th in the 200 free.