Area athletes prosper on first day

MORGANTOWN?- Buckhannon-Upshur’s Maggie Miller and Elkins’ Samantha Hall didn’t disappoint during the first day of the state swim meet Thursday at WVU’s Natatorium.

Miller, a junior, broke state records in the 100-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke.

Her time of 52.51 in the 100 freestyle broke the previous mark of 52.70 set by Doddridge County’s Jennie Spencer in 2004.

Miller’s effort of 55.44 in 100 backstroke, meanwhile, eclipsed her sister Courtney Miller’s 2012 time of 56.64.

While her close friend Maggie Miller was raising the bar in her two events, Hall likewise had her sites set on a new state record.

Her top qualifying time of 24.13 in the 50 freestyle just missed breaking the mark set by Spencer (24.04) in 2003. Hall is the two-time defending champion in the 50 freestyle, sharing the title with Maggie Miller in 2012.

Hall, a junior, qualified third in 100 freestyle (52.86) to set the stage for a showdown with Miller and Morgantown’s Courtney Deem, who qualified second, in today’s final. Hall held off Miller to win last year’s title, crossing the line in 53.23, while Miller had a time of 53.31 to place second.

The area had several other athletes qualify for today’s finals.

B-U’s 200 medley relay, comprised of Miller, Haley Williams, Patricia Loughney and Shannon Smith, had a time of 1:57.54 to qualify second.

Loughney, Maddie Nanners, Smith and Miller also qualified fifth in the 200 freestyle relay with a showing of 1:48.53.

Loughney advanced in two individual events. She was sixth in the 200 IM with a time of 2:22.84 and fifth in the 100 breaststroke (1:10.58).

The Tigers’ 200 freestyle relay team (Kayla Gainer, Lauren Cain, Skout Barger and Hall) was third with time of 1:45.69, and the 400 freestyle (Gainer, Tayler Lee, Barger and Hall) was seventh to move to the consolation heat.

Hall and Gainer competed on last year’s state champion 200 freestyle team.

“I was very pleased with the effort of our team,” Elkins coach Joelle Kenney said. “Samantha came close to breaking a state record, and all of our swimmers performed well.

“We’re very excited about (today’s) finals, and hopefully we can bring home some state titles.”

Philip Barbour’s foursome of Cheyenne Taylor, Jordan Bowers, Skylar Foster and Abigail Blankenship placed 12th in the 400 freestyle relay.

On the boys side, the Colts’ Jonathan Franke was eighth in the 200 IM and 100 breaststroke, while teammate Bryce McGee was 12th in the 100 butterfly.

B-U’s Steve Wilson qualified for the finals in the 100 backstroke with a fifth-place effort. He also was seventh in the 100 freestyle.

Elkins’ Tyler Kenney placed 16th in the 100 backstroke.

Today’s girls finals will begin at 8:30 a.m., while the boys will take to the pool at 4:40 p.m.