Funkhouser wins state swimming title

Ashley Funkhouser

Central High School sophomore Ashley Funkhouser made history Sunday at the VHSL Group 2A state swim meet at Christiansburg Aquatic Center.

After securing the top seed in the girls 50-yard freestyle with her performance in Sunday morning’s preliminaries, Funkhouser carried that success into the championship finals later that evening. Funkhouser won the 50 free with a time of 25.50 seconds, edging out runner-up Grace Wohlford of Radford by four-hundredths of a second.

Central swim coach Steve Shaffer said Monday that Funkhouser is the first Falcon to win a state swimming championship and, to the best of his knowledge, the first to accomplish the feat at any of the three Shenandoah County public high schools.

“It’s very exciting. In terms of Central High School this is the first individual state champion since the hurdler (Justin Bauserman) with the track team had so much success I think two years ago,” Shaffer said. “So it’s exciting for the school and the Falcon pride carries on. I’m glad that swimming was able to contribute.”

In all, Funkhouser returned from Christiansburg with four all-state medals, as she also placed third in the 100 free (56.57) and was a contributor to the Falcons’ all-state 200 free relay and 400 free relay. The top eight in each event were awarded medals.

Shaffer said Funkhouser, like the rest of the Falcons, grew fatigued as the day wore on, but the sophomore was still plenty fresh for her first swim of the finals – the 50 free.

When asked what helped push Funkhouser to Central’s first state championship, Shaffer chuckled and then began detailing the pre-finals ceremony that involves the top eight finalists in each event walking out to music before their events. That walkout music, Shaffer said, is selected by the top seed in each race.

“So with Ashley being a high school kid, one of the motivating factors was she got to pick the music because she was the number one seed,” Shaffer, who noted Funkhouser picked “something from Rihanna,” said. “… You want something much deeper and much more profound, but it’s the little things in life that sometimes make the difference.”

Joining Funkhouser as a four-time all-state medalist on Sunday was teammate Dean Woodwell, who placed sixth in the boys 100 butterfly (59.04) and seventh in the 200 individual medley (2:17.66) while contributing to Central’s all-state 200 free and 400 free relays.

Josiah Selby contributed a seventh-place finish in the 100 fly (1:01.77) and Ethan Coleman was eighth in the 200 free (2:03.83) to help Central’s boys to seventh place as a team. The Falcons’ girls placed 10th.

Woodwell anchored both relays, helping teammates Aaron Waller, Jonah Neri and Graham Wenn to sixth place (1:38.89) in the 200 free relay before Waller, Selby, Coleman and Woodwell teamed up to place fifth (3:42.21) in the 400 free relay.

The Falcons’ girls quartet of Lexi Keller, Winter Ruhling, Casey Wenn and Funkhouser combined for sixth (1:54.27) in the 200 free relay. Keller, Carly Boyce, Casey Wenn and Funkhouser then teamed up for seventh (4:23.51) in the 400 free relay.

Strasburg senior Pascal Bruder led the Rams with three all-state medals Sunday, as he placed third in the boys 200 IM (2:12.74) and fourth in the 500 free (5:21.49). Bruder also swam the second leg of the Rams’ 200 free relay – which included Brian Scholten, Nathan Hershey and Christian Neff – that placed fifth (1:38.34).

Strasburg’s boys placed ninth as a team, while the Rams’ girls were 15th.

“I feel all in all the kids did well,” Rams coach Ina Rae Crisman said in an email Monday. “Pascal Bruder had an excellent performance in both his individual races. He made me a little nervous in his prelims because he held back. I wanted him to have good lane assignments, but with a smile, he said that he ‘had it all planned out.’ The times were so fast (Sunday) and the competition was fierce, so you always want to ensure that your swimmers are in the best possible position for them to perform well.”

Strasburg’s 400 free relay team (Scholten, Hershey, Riley Daugherty and Evan Davis) placed eighth (3:49.54) after knocking 11 seconds off their seed time in the preliminaries.

Crisman called Sunday a “bittersweet” day as her seniors swam their last high school race.

“I will miss them all, but with Christian Neff, Evan Davis, and Abigail Murphy, they have been with me not only in their high school career, but through the summer league program,” Crisman said. “Abigail is just a bight spot in my day and always wanting to improve and as for Evan and Christian it has been 12 years. That was tough for all of us, that last swim.”

In the Group 4A meet in Richmond on Saturday, Sherando’s Daniel Milburn was the only Warrior to place individually in the top eight. He was seventh in the boys 200 IM (2:02.79).

The Warriors’ boys 200 medley relay (Milburn, Jeremy Linaburg, David Restrepo and Ethan Medrano) placed eighth (1:43.40). The boys 200 free relay (Restrepo, Hunter Mayo, Milburn and Medrano) also placed eighth (1:33.36).

Sherando’s boys placed ninth as a team.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com