With a pair of Patriot state title winners, the 2020 WVSSAC Girls Swimming Championships will always be a source of pride for Wheeling Park High School athletics.
At the Aquatic Center at Mylan Park in Morgantown on Feb. 21, Patriot Abby Turner solidified her stellar resume by claiming a third state swimming championship, while Park teammate, Jenna Bopp, carved her name in the Park athletic record book by earning her first state crown. What’s even more impressive is that both have achieved so much in the water as only juniors. Turner and Bopp have their senior seasons still ahead of them.
Bopp wasn’t seeking redemption at the 2020 state championships, but that is what she achieved when she earned her first West Virginia championship in the 100-yard breast stroke. Bopp had placed second in the event as a freshman and sophomore, and in both years she was edged out by Parkersburg High School’s Jaden Welsh.
Bopp knew the competitive history between the two would make their showdown in the 100- yard breast stroke one of the most anticipated events at this year’s state championships. Bopp said she was confident going into the race, and ultimately claiming a state championship is a uniquely rewarding experience. She thanked her parents, Diann and Victor Bopp, and her coaches for their support.
“It feels good,” Bopp said. “It was really relieving. My mom was crying… The competition has been tough, but the coaches helped make it happen. Hard work and dedication made it happen.”
Bopp is now well aware that a showdown with Welsh is again anticipated in the 2021 West Virginia swimming finals. However, she said she’s still enjoying her state championship and is not yet ready to think about next year’s event. She said she has competed against her rival so much that they’ve developed a bond.
“I consider her a friend,” Bopp said of Welsh. “We compete against each other in four events every time (Wheeling Park and Parkersburg) meet.”
Bopp, who has been swimming since the fourth grade, said she has not set specific goals for her senior season. Still, she knows she will not waiver in terms of her work ethic and commitment leading up to her final campaign.
“I’m going to continue to work hard,” she said. “Obviously, I’d like to continue to drop time and continue to feel good in the water… I like the training aspect of swimming, and I like being involved in a sport with my friends. We push each other. My parents are really supportive, and they spend a lot of time getting me to meets. I’m very appreciative of them.”
Abby Turner’s state title this year in the 100-yard freestyle was not her first. In fact, she’s a three- time state champion. She claimed West Virginia championships in 2019 in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle.
Turner said it is always exciting to win a state championship. However, there is pressure to repeat as a state champion after you’ve won the crown.
“It was different, because I had to hold onto my title,” Turner said. “It was just as exciting, but the competition was just as tough this year.”
Turner’s name is attached to five Wheeling Park High School records in girls swimming. She is the sole owner of individual Patriot records in the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard freestyle, and she is a part of three team records in the 200-yard medley relay, the 400-yard medley relay and the 200-yard free relay.
Turner is a highly-motivated student athlete. Even with three state titles and five school records, she can’t help thinking of a West Virginia record that she just escaped her last week in Morgantown.
“I missed the 100 yard freestyle record by .04 seconds,” she said. “That had been my goal since last year. It was frustrating to be so close, but…”
Turner has been swimming for nine years, and she thanked her parents, Chrissy and Jeff Turner, for their support. She is now beginning to focus on next year’s season. Turner has definitive goals, and she is excited for her senior campaign with her Patriot teammates.
“I’m really excited,” Turner said. “We will keep on improving and breaking records. Hopefully, I can break the state record that I was really close to breaking. I love the team, I love the hard practices, and I love working all year to see the results. Winning state titles in the 50 and 100-yard freestyle is the goal as an individual. As a team, it is winning state titles in the 200-yard medley relay and the 400-yard freestyle relay. I’m very confident.”
Photo: Pictured from left are Abby Turner and Jenna Bopp.