BRIDGEPORT — The Buckhannon-Upshur High School swimming teams traveled to The Bridge Sports Complex in Bridgeport to compete in the Region III Championship meet last Saturday, February 5. Both teams have had a great deal of success thus far in the 2021-22 season under head coach Michael Roessing’s guidance.
The teams have worked themselves into peak condition, shaving seconds off event times and generally positioning themselves for a strong run down the back stretch of the season. The swimmers representing B-UHS entered Saturday looking to build off the momentum gained from last week’s strong outing at the Big 10 Conference championship meet. The Bucs accomplished this in a big way, putting on a show at the Regional III Championship meet, with several student-athletes breaking records, competing on a high-level and punching their tickets to the state meet.
The B-UHS girls swim team finished as region III runners-up, recording 96 total points, earning 5 gold medal finishes and 3 silver medal finishes. The boys team finished in fourth-place with 75 total points, earning 2 gold medal finishes, 2 silver medal finishes and 2 bronze medal finishes. Together, the two teams finished second-overall with 171 combined points.
B-U’s girls 200-yard medley relay team consisting of freshman Riley Vincent, juniors Alayna Whitehair, Cadence Vincent and senior Cameron Zuliani took first-place in the first event of the meet with a final time of 1:56.66. This same group continued their dominant run by capturing a gold finish in the 200-yard freestyle relay with a final time of 1:44.51.
The boys 200-yard medley relay team consisting of freshman Carter Zuliani, juniors Preston Bennett, Reis Leonard and Owen Caynor earned a bronze finish by third-place in the event with a final time of 1:52.15. This same foursome took home a silver medal in the boys 200-yard freestyle relay with a time of 1:37.24.
Preston Bennett took home the gold in the boys 200-yard freestyle with a final time of 1:49.50, touching the wall nearly a full 3 seconds before his closest competition, Mason Titchenal from Bridgeport. While collecting his first regional championship of the evening, Bennett broke the meet record, previously set by Andrew Boyles back in 2013, with a time of 1:50.66. Bennett continued his run of dominance, securing his second gold medal of the night in the boys 500-yard freestyle with a final time of 4:58.48, adding yet another record to his resume in the process, topping his own record time of 5:01.34 last Saturday. Bennett was the only competitor to finish the event in under 5 minutes time, beating the second-place time of 5:33.66 by over 30 seconds to cap off a dominating performance.
Alayna Whitehair took home a silver medal finish in the girls 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:23.13. Whitehair went on to earn another silver medal by taking second-place in the girls 100-yard breaststroke with a final time of 1:13.93.
The state’s top-ranked high school swimming prospect, Cadence Vincent, won both the girls 50-yard free with a final time of 23.76 and the girls 100-yard backstroke with a final time of 57.36. Her younger sister freshman Riley Vincent also competed in both events, finishing tenth out of 42 competitors in the girls 50-yard freestyle and sixth out of 32 competitors in the 100-yard backstroke.
Carter Zuliani earned a silver medal in the boys 100-yard freestyle with a time of 53.94. Zuliani also took home a bronze-medal finish in the boys 50-yard freestyle with a time of 23.61 during his first high school regional meet appearance.
Cameron Zuliani won the girls 100-yard freestyle with a final time of 56.23, narrowly edging out Notre Dame’s (Clarkburg) Caitlin Oltman’s second-place time of 56.58. Zuliani also earned a silver medal finish in the girls 100-yard butterfly with a final time of 1:01.97 to wrap up her final high school regional meet appearance.