McNelly and Murphy qualify for State Swim Meet

By Tony Gorman

Valdez is making a return the State Swimming Meet after two swimmers qualified individually and a relay team was named alternate over the weekend.

Riley McNelly and Colleen Murphy led the girls’ team to a fifth place finish at the Region III Meet in Kenai.  McNelly qualified for two events by winning the 100-yard breaststroke and finishing runner-up in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:13.13.  She is currently ranked seventh in the state in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:03.15.

“Riley did an outstanding job,” Bucs coach Leo Overduyn said.  “She swam that breaststroke just like she was taught.  She’s really more of a 200-yard breaststroker.  She had to change her stroke a little bit.  She did and she took it out and she was very excited.”

McNelly is also close breaking the school record in the 100-yard butterfly.

Murphy, qualified for the State meet by finishing fourth in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 25.59 and the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 56.01.  She’s ranked ninth in the state in both of her events.  Overduyn thinks the senior has come a long way since last year.  He believes has a good shot of breaking Hannah Norris’ school records in the both events.

“She had just a tremendous year,” Overduyn said of Murphy.  “She’s embraced the training schedule and the hard work that I make them do and really taking them out kind of done things my way and it made a huge difference for her.  She swims with a lot of confidence right now.”

The team consisting of Murphy, McNelly and her sister Josie, Torie Hansen, Emily Doyel, Devon Price, Rylee Norris, and Megan Walker was name an alternate in the 200-yard freestyle relay.  The team finished fourth in the event with a time of 1:47.89.

There were no qualifiers from the boys’ team.  Individually, Jacob Balowski finished ninth in the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:22.95 and tenth in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:06.54.  Carl Hedman finished tenth in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 1:10.92.  The team of Balowski, Leander Neuweller, Stuart Relay, and Christopher Cummins finished fourth in 400-yard freestyle relay with a time of 4:00.93.

Despite getting no state qualifiers from the boys, Overduyn thought they turned in an outstanding performance.  “They all swam well across the board,” Overduyn said. “Some of them are still young and in the learning process.  But, as far as we did as a team, it made a difference and the kids stepped up this weekend.”

Overall, 90 percent of the swimmers who made it to the final heats dropped times and swam personal bests.  The State Swimming Meet takes place in Juneau this weekend.


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