JCC women capture swim title in Florida
FORT PIERCE, Fla. — It was a historic run at the National Junior College Athletic Association Swimming & Diving Championships as the Jamestown Community College women’s swim team finished as national champions in the nonscholarship division and fourth overall with 329 team points at Indian River State College this past week.
“I never even thought this was even a possibility,” Jayhawks coach Todd Conklin said Sunday evening. “Once we got there … after Wednesday night and the excitement that night brought, at that point we started looking at scores and I said to (assistant coach Bill) Rollinger, ‘Coach we might be able to do this.'”
At the conclusion of the event, sophomore Karianne Yuchnitz (Panama) was awarded the Women’s Nonscholarship Swimmer of the Meet, earning seven All-American honors, highlighted by her national championship in the 50-yard freestyle Wednesday.
“Karianne and I have had our ups and downs, and many great moments together over the years as far as states and sectionals,” said Conklin, who also coached Yuchnitz in high school at Panama. “Obviously, this is the top of the mountain. She deserves every bit of it. She has worked hard and I think she is really enjoying this one.”
The Jayhawks men’s team finished as runner-up in the nonscholarship division, taking eighth overall with 120 team points.
“The boys battled the whole weekend as well,” Conklin said. “They came up just short. We just didn’t have enough bodies.”
To finish up the week, the Jayhawk women added three more All-American honors with Yuchnitz finishing third in the 100-yard freestyle and freshman Jade Vidas (Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa/Parktown HS for Girls) finishing seventh in the 50-yard butterfly.
To start the day, Vidas set a new personal record in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 29.75 in the prelim rounds. In the championship round, Vidas swam a time of 29.39 to finish seventh. Vidas’ time set a new school record that was previously set by Christine Kuzminski in 2017 with a time of 29.43.
In the 100-yard freestyle, Yuchnitz had a time of 53.08 in the prelim rounds, a new school record which she set this past season. In the championship round, Yuchnitz improved her time to 52.25, finishing in third.
Fellow teammate Tia Moppert (Gowanda/Gowanda) also competed in the 100-yard freestyle, posting a new personal best with a time of 57.35 in the prelim rounds. In the championship round, Moppert posted a time of 57.99 to finish 13th.
Freshman Alyssa Hanesworth (Randolph/Randolph) competed in the 100-yard freestyle as well, posting a time of 1:13.26 to finish 20th.
“Alyssa Hanesworth is a great story. Lilly Baer is in the nursing program and friends with her,” Conklin said. “She said to Alyssa, ‘Why don’t you come to practice.’ Next thing you know, here she is competing having never swam in her life. Junior college is about giving these athletes an opportunity to go on to bigger and better things.”
Baer (Jamestown/Maple Grove) competed in the 200-yard breaststroke, posting a time of 3:00.72 in the prelims. In the championship round, Baer finished with a time of 3:02.34 to finish 11th.
Fellow teammate Megan Stang (Perrysburg/Gowanda) had a tie of 3:05.76 in the prelims. Moving on to the championship round, Stang improved her time to 3:01.72 to finish 10th.
Stang also competed in the 1,650-yard freestyle, posting a new personal best with a time of 23:07.57 to finish 11th.
Freshman Anna Burt (Jamestown/Jamestown) competed in the 200-yard backstroke, posting a new personal best with 2:32.63 in the prelim round. In the championship round, Burt posted a time of 2:31.12 to finish 11th.
The Jayhawks wrapped up their week in the 400-yard freestyle relay as the team of Moppert, Vidas, Baer and Yuchnitz swam a time of 3:58.37 to finish fourth.
For the men, sophomore Elliot Johnson (Panama/Panama) started the day off in the 50-yard butterfly, posting a time of 28.18 to finish 22nd.
In the 1,650-yard freestyle, freshman Colby Pantall (Jamestown/Maple Grove) set a new personal record with a time of 19:33.93 to finish 16th. Teammate Jackson Vanstrom (Jamestown/Jamestown) also had a new personal best in the event, finishing with a time of 21:07.48 to finish 17th.
Competing in the 100-yard freestyle, Elliot Johnson improved on his personal best, posting a time of 53.23 to finish 19th.
Freshman Eathan Johnson (Panama/Panama) improved on his time in the 200-yard breaststroke, finishing with a time of 2:35.53 to finish 17th. Teammate Matthew Fennell (Fourways Garden, Johannesburg, South Africa/King Edwards VII School) also had a personal best in the event, posting a time of 2:42.37 to finish 19th.
The Jayhawks wrapped up the championships in the 400-yard freestyle relay as the team of Pantall, Vanstrom, Fennell and Elliot Johnson finished in eighth place with a time of 3:47.13.
“Derek Hosier and Caryn Engstrom are my assistant coaches. I’m the face of the whole thing, but without their assistance and help we wouldn’t be where we are. They are just as much a part of this as I am and the kids are,” Conklin said, adding, “I really think (athletic director) George Sisson deserves a lot of credit to make sure we got this season in.”
All told, Jamestown CC had six women finish as All-Americans in 24 events and combined with the men earned 46 medals while breaking 11 school records.
“At this point, I’m really hoping that this sets the tone and shows kids around this area that we have a program that’s going to be winning championships,” Conklin said. “That’s not all that matters, but it is a very lofty goal that will always be at the forefront.
“Our goal is to go to Florida or Buffalo and compete to be nonscholarship national champions,” Conklin added. “We’ve proven that we’re capable of doing that.”