Bennett, Whitehair shine at W. Va. Short Course Championship

Alayna Whitehair and Preston Bennett pose for a picture after their successful outing to Morgantown for the West Virginia Short Course Swimming Championships. PHOTO SUBMITTED

MORGANTOWN — Swimmers from around the state found themselves concentrated in Morgantown’s WVU Aquatic Center for the West Virginia Short Course championships. Two Buccaneers, senior Preston Bennett and junior Alayna Whitehair, took part in the event as members of the Mountain State Storm Team based out of Bridgeport. The event which started back on Thursday, March 10 and concluded Sunday, March 13, proved to be a great success for the two Buccaneer representatives. 

The Mountain State Storm girls relay team, consisting of Whitehair, Caroline Hamilton (15 years old), Alexis Ramsey (17) and Annalise Gentilozzi (18) opened the W. Va. Short Course Championship by finishing in second-place with a combined time of 8:49.37 in the finals. The foursome proved to be very consistent, taking a second-place finish in the 400-yard freestyle relay with a combined time of 3:57.54. The relay team slipped a bit in the 400-yard medley relay, finishing in fourth-place with a time of 4:32.41, before regaining form and earning another second-place finish in the 200-yard medley relay event.

As an individual, Whitehair had a busy weekend in Morgantown. Her performance at the W. Va. Short Course Championship was highlighted by three third-place finishes in the girl’s 100-yard backstroke, the girl’s 200-yard IM and the girl’s 100-yard backstroke. Whitehair recorded impressive times of 1:13.57 in the 100-yard breaststroke, 2:21.88 in the 200-yard IM and 1:03.64 in the 100-yard backstroke on her way to being one of the most consistent junior swimmers in the field. 

The Mountain State Storm relay team, consisting of Bennett, Randy Keener (18), Adam Fubio (16) and Kaden Meighen (16) cruised to a first-place finish in the boy’s 800-yard freestyle with a combined time of 7:27.53 in the finals. The Storm’s boy’s relay team proved to be a dominant force in the pool all weekend long, winning the 400-yard freestyle relay with a combined time of 3:19.84. This grouping slipped a bit in the 200-yard freestyle relay, finishing second with a combined time of 1:30.94 for their final event of the meet.

As an individual, Bennett proved that he is one of the state’s elite male swimming prospects, winning the boy’s 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:51.06, a full 20 seconds ahead of the second-place swimmer’s time of 5:11.08. Bennett also recorded a pair of second-place finishes in both the 200-yard IM and the 100-yard freestyle, with times of 2:04.48 for the 200-yard IM and 48.78 in the 100-yard freestyle. Bennett also narrowly missed the podium on three other events, the 200-yard backstroke, the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle: finishing fourth, sixth and sixth in each race respectively.

Both Buckhannon-Upshur swimmers performed at a high level, helping the Mountain State Storm’s finish the W. Va. Short Course Championship in third-place overall. On the boy’s side, Bennett helped lead the Storm to a third-place finish, while Whitehair helped the girls finish in second-place.

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