2015 U.S. Speedo Junior Nationals: Whitley rolls at night 4 finals


We’re all set for day 4 of the Speedo Junior National Championships, and a number of swimmers are looking to double up on individual wins.

100 breast champ Miranda Tucker leads the girls 200 breast by a wide margin, looking for a sweep of the stroke in San Antonio. Meanwhile 100 free winner Maxime Rooney looks to take the 200 free after going 1:49.89 this morning.

Then there’s 14-year-old 200 back champ Alex Walsh, who will try to win her second-ever Junior National tile in the 100 back tonight. She’ll have to fight off Ella Eastin, though, who already has two wins on the weekend. And 16-year-old Michael Andrew will look to defend his 2014 title in the 100 back a day after winning the 100 fly in a blowout.

Also heading events tonight: Melissa Pish in the girls 200 free and Reece Whitley in the boys 200 breast.

Keep refreshing this page for event-by-event updates from San Antonio, and check out@SwimSwamLive on Twitter for up-to-the-second highlights.

Prelims recap

Girls 200 Free – Finals

Top Three Finishers:

  1. Taylor Ruck – 1:59.79
  2. Jennifer Campbell – 2:00.95
  3. Erika Brown – 2:01.07

Scottsdale’s Taylor Ruck flew out to the early lead from an outside lane and never gave it back, winning the 200 free in 1:59.79. That comes a night after the 15-year-old won the 400 free with another huge prelims-to-finals drop. That’s Ruck’s first time under two minutes in her career.

Palo Alto’s Jennifer Campbell gave chase, pressing Ruck from the far side of the pool, but wound up second in 2:00.95. Campbell did touch out the two top seeds from the middle of the pool: 16-year-old Erika Brown of SwimMAC was 2:01.07 and top qualifier Melissa Pish was 2:01.31 for the Waves of Bloomington.

Greater Tampa’s Morgan Tankersley went a lifetime-best 2:01.49 for fifth. Tankersley earned a new Olympic Trials cut in prelims and bettered that time in the final.

Katrina Konopka out of Y-Spartaquatics (also known as the Middle Tyger YMCA), was sixth in 2:01.77. SwimMAC’s Jessica Merritt also got under the Olympic Trial cut with a 2:02.21, and Anya Egorova was 2:04.28 to round out the A final.

The B final went to Sophie Skinner at 2:02.00 – a drop of over a full second from her best and a new Olympic Trial cut.

Boys 200 free – Finals

Top Three Finishers:

  1. Maxime Rooney – 1:49.19
  2. Aukai Lileikis – 1:49.90
  3. Parks Jones – 1:50.01

Pleasanton’s Maxime Rooney joined Ruck and Ella Eastin as double individual winners so far, pacing the 200 free in a lifetime-best 1:49.19. That moves Rooney inside the top 10 all-time for USA Swimming’s 17-18 age group. He ties 1986’s Craig Oppel for 9th.

Hawaii’s Aukai Lileikis took second, also cracking two minutes for the first time with a 1:49.90. Lileikis is now 22nd on the all-time 17-18 list. Both Lileikis and Rooney are just 17 years old.

Parks Jones of Arizona was just off the 1:49 range, going 1:50.01.

After that trio, things spread out a bit. Machine’s James Murphy went 1:51.57 for fourth, and Texas Ford’s Samuel Kline was 1:52.14 for fifth.

Michal Zyla went 1:52.30, just getting in ahead of a tie for seventh – North Baltimore’s Cole Buese and Bluefish’s Max Miranda were both 1:52.66 in the final.

The B final went to Quest Swimming’s Jeff Newkirk in 1:51.76, just under the Trial cut, though Newkirk earned the cut last summer with a 1:51.89.

Girls 200 breast – Finals

Top Three Finishers:

  1. Miranda Tucker – 2:28.14
  2. Grace Zhao – 2:31.00
  3. Ella Nelson – 2:31.65

Miranda Tucker absolutely rolled in the girls 200 breast, giving us our third-straight double-event winner. The Livonia Community 18-year-old powered away with a 2:28.14 that included a 1:10.9 at the halfway turn. That’s pretty impressive, considering Tucker was 1:08 in the individual 100 earlier in the meet.

Palo Alto’s Grace Zhao led in the next wave of swimmers a few body lengths back. Her 2:31.00 topped Nashville Aquatic Club’s Ella Nelson (2:31.65) and Northern Kentucky Clipper Madeleine Vonderhaar (2:31.70).

Another group of three followed up that trio: Marie-Claire Schillinger went 2:33.09 to top Rachel Ramey (2:33.20) and Zoe Bartel (2:33.37). Meagan Popp of Irvine Novaquatics rounded out the heat in 2:34.78.

Triangle Aquatics’ Julia Poole went 2:32.55 to run away with the consol final and 9th place. That time would have earned her fifth in the A heat.

Boys 200 breast – Finals

Top Three Finishers:

  1. Reece Whitley – 2:12.17 *NAG record*
  2. Ethan Browne – 2:14.88
  3. Marco Guarente – 2:17.05

A very patient race by Reece Whitley saw the towering 15-year-old pop off new meet and National Age Group records with a 2:12.17.

Whitley trailed at the first wall, but never looked concerned about it, using his long stroke and big underwaters to roll past the field with ease on the next lap. Whitley would power away near the end for that 2:12.1, which knocks off the 2:12.92 he set as the NAG record back in May, as well as the meet record of 2:12.88 set by Gunnar Bentz back in 2013.

Xcel Aquatics’ Ethan Browne would take second, well ahead of the field himself in 2:14.88. And Marco Guarente rounded out the top 3 with a 2:17.05.

Things were very close from there on, though. Daniel Chang of Barracuda Swim just touched out a whole host of athletes with his 2:18.01. Crimson’s Calvin Yang was 2:18.36, SwimAtlanta’s Joseph Portillo 2:18.57 and Thomas Brewer of Current 2:18.57.

Tennessee Aquatics’ Bryar Long was the final swimmer in that championship heat, but was disqualified.

A thrilling B final saw Alex Jahan win a tight battle for 9th place and earn an Olympic Trial cut by just .01. Jahan was 2:18.38 for that heat win.

Girls 100 back – Finals

Top Three Finishers:

  1. Alex Walsh – 1:00.84
  2. Regan Smith – 1:01.32
  3. Grace Ariola – 1:01.38

Three of the youngest swimmers in the meet swept the top three spots in the girls 100 back, a great showing of youth.

Alex Walsh won her second Junior National title this week with a huge 1:00.84. Walsh is just two days over 14 years old, celebrating her 14th birthday Friday by winning the 200 back.

That moves Walsh to #2 all-time in the 13-14 age group with one year left to attack Missy Franklin‘s NAG record of 1:00.50.

#4 on that 13-14 list is Regan Smith out of Riptide in Minnesota. Smith was 1:01.32 and is even younger, still 13 years old.

15-year-old Grace Ariola was the veteran of the top three, going 1:01.38 for bronze.

So Cal’s Ella Eastin continued her strong run this weekend, going 1:01.61 for fourth. That was ahead of Missoula’s Hanni Leach (1:01.94) as well as Swim Florida’s Elise Haan (1:02.40), a recent Florida Gulf Coast commit.

Irvine Novaquatics’ Courtney Mykkanen was 1:03.10 for seventh, and Mitchell’s Tevyn Waddell went 1:03.29 to round out the A heat.

Emma Seiberlich has been closing hard all week, and she snuck in for the consol heat win with a 1:02.56.

Boys 100 back – Finals

Top Three Finishers:

  1. Michael Andrew – 54.99
  2. Daniel Carr – 55.64
  3. Austin Katz – 55.92

It’s been a night of repeat winners, and Michael Andrew continued that trend in the final individual event. Andrew successfully defended his 2014 Junior National title in the 100 back, winning his second event of the weekend.

Andrew was 54.99 – a drop of eight tenths from his best, and the second-best time in 15-16 age group history. Andrew is still well off the NAG record of 53.76 from Ryan Murphy, but passes up Jack Conger as #2 in the age group rankings.

Fellow 16-year-old Daniel Carr took second for Cheyenne Mountain, going 55.64. That moves him up to #8 in the age group (He was previously 9th). And Sarasota’s Austin Katz, also 16, went 55.92 to move to 10th on that same list.

Delaware’s David Crossland went 55.97 for fourth, the last guy on the lower side of 56 seconds.

KING’s Thomas Anderson finished fifth in 56.32, just ahead of Southern Michigan’s Cameron Craig (56.38).

Glen Cowand (56.84) and Taylor Delk (56.92) rounded out an entire championship heat of swimmers under 57.

Metro Atlanta’s Dean Farris won a nailbiter of a consol heat, going 57.16. He was .03 ahead of a pair of swimmers to win that heat.

Girls 4×200 free relay – Finals

Top Three Finishers:

  1. Scottsdale – 8:14.71
  2. SwimMAC – 8:15.15
  3. Bloomington Waves – 8:16.41

Burgeoning star Taylor Ruck led Scottsdale to a tight win in the girls 800 free relay, splitting a blazing 1:58.89 on the anchor leg to bring her team from behind for the win. Joining her on the national championship relay were Shae Nicolaisen (2:05.18), Victoria Toris (2:04.35) and Jocelyn Wang (2:06.29) as the team went 8:14.71.

SwimMAC finished just behind in the same heat, getting a solid anchor split of their own from Erika Brown at 2:01.02. Jessica Merritt was also 2:03.85 as SwimMAC went 8:15.15.

One lane over from SwimMAC, the Waves of Bloomington made a late charge on Melissa Pish‘s 2:00.49 anchor leg, ultimately taking third in 8:16.41.

Santa Clara put together one of the meet’s most conisstent relays, taking fourth in 8:17.54. That featured a 2:03.04 leadoff leg from Sarah Shimomura, plus a pair of 2:04s and a 2:05.

Kasey Schmidt led off in 2:03.43 for Bolles, powering the Sharks to an 8:20.23 fifth-place finish. Just a tick behind them was fellow Florida club Gator, which went 8:20.99 on a 2:01.91 anchor leg from Isabel Ivey.

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bobo gigi
7 years ago

I like watching that meet every year. It’s so cool to see the future stars before main stream people see them on TV at olympic games.
And about Alex Walsh, I’ve even watched her 2 years ago at Tom Dolan Invitational in December. Always a great meet to see some of the best US age groupers. She was so dominant. So no surprising for me to see her now destroy everything in juniors.

7 years ago

My prediction: next summer Michael Andrew wins Olympic Trials in the 100 fly. A new Michael will reign….

He is still a “boy” this summer, one more (almost) year of growing (emotionally and physically) and he is the MAN to beat!

7 years ago

Aukai Lileikis is 18 now. His birthday was July 31st.

7 years ago

Exactly my prediction for MA 100 back!54.99

7 years ago

So much to SMASH. Those little backstrokers… wow… With a 52/54/100/49 MA has to be in the sub 2min zone now… hope he’s swimming that next week.

bobo gigi
7 years ago

Recap of his year so far in the 100-meter races:

50.21 in the 100 free
54.99 in the 100 back
52.57 in the 100 breast
1.01.00 in the 100 breast

bobo gigi
Reply to  bobo gigi
7 years ago

52.57 in the 100 fly

bobo gigi
7 years ago

YES! We have the sub 55 we expected from Michael Andrew in the 100 back. Cool.
54.99 and the win of course.

7 years ago

Good call on the sub-55. In fact it was the exact call by the slimmest of margins.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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