Emma Weyant, Robert Finke Win On Opening Night Of Toyota U.S. Open; SOFLO’s Trio Swims Friday

By Sharon Robb
SARASOTA, November 12, 2020–University of Virginia’s Emma Weyant and University of Florida’s Robert Finke swept the 800-meter freestyle events Thursday on opening night of the Toyota U.S. Open at Selby Aquatic Center.

Weyant, 18, who is taking a gap year in 2020 to train for the U.S. Olympic trials, won the distance event in 8:34.93 in her Sarasota Sharks’ home pool.

Blair Stoneburg, 16, of Treasure Coast Aquatics was second in a best time 8:45.23.

Michaela Mattes, 15, of Sarasota Sharks was third in 8:47.79, also a best time. Mattes got a break when the FHSAA State 1A meet was pushed back to Sunday because of Tropical Storm Eta.

The Cardinal Mooney Catholic sophomore can now compete in the 400 freestyle and 400 individual medley on Friday before heading to Stuart. She will also swim the 200 freestyle.

Anna Auld, 17, the only Florida Gold Coast swimmer in the final, was seventh in 8:58.87. Auld recently committed to University of Florida. After verbally committing in November, 2019, she is the first official signee for the 2021-22 season.

Finke, 21, won the men’s 800-meter freestyle in 7:53.05, the nation’s fastest time this season.

Finke also has the nation’s top time in the 400 IM, 3:50.33, he swam in the season-opener at Georgia. Florida swept the top three spots with Kieran Smith, 20, in 8:00.05 and Alfonso Mestre, 19, 8:00.49.

Joaquin Vargas, 18, of Azura, the only FGC men’s swimmer in the final, was ninth in 8:20.14.

South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers will begin competing Friday in timed final events.

SOFLO’s Julio Horrego, Lance Lesage and Mallory Schleicher will swim. Teammate Olivia Dinehart was forced to scratch from the U.S. Open because of the rescheduling of the State 1A meet from Friday to Sunday because of bad weather.

The Toyota USA Open is the first major U.S. meet since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down swimming in mid-March.

Horrego, 22, will swim the 200-meter individual medley; 100-meter breaststroke; and 200-meter breaststroke.

Lesage, 18, coming off last weekend’s state 3A runner-up finish, is entered in the 100-meter backstroke and 200-meter backstroke.

Schleicher, 17, will compete in the 400-meter freestyle and 400-meter individual medley.

University of Florida and SOFLO’s Miguel Cancel, 21, who represents Puerto Rico internationally, is also in the men’s field.

Because of COVID-19 travelling and group size restrictions, the USA Open will be held at nine different sites across the United States. The USA Open was originally scheduled for Atlanta in December.

Each site will host a small group of swimmers and will follow the same format. With Thursday’s session complete, there are two sessions on Friday, 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and one session on Saturday at 9 a.m. Results will be combined from all nine sites.

In addition to Sarasota, other sites are Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton, Ore.; Wellmark YMCA of Des Moines, Iowa; Greensboro Aquatic Center in North Carolina; Huntsville Aquatics Center in Alabama; Indiana University Natatorium in Indianapolis; William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine, Calif., Swim RVA in Richmond, Va.; and North East ISD Blossom Athletic Complex in San Antonio, Texas. For COVID-19 safety reasons the venues will have limited capacity.

The USA Open will be aired on television. The schedule is Friday, 10 a.m. on NBCSN and 6 p.m., Olympic Channel; Saturday, 10 a.m., Olympic Channel and Sunday, 3 p.m., delayed tape, NBC.


800-meter freestyle: 1. Emma Weyant, Sarasota Sharks 8:34.93, 2. Blair Stoneburg, Treasure Coast Aquatics 8:45.23, 3. Michaela Mattes, Sarasota Sharks 8:44.79, 7. Anna Auld, East Coast Aquatic Club 8:58.87.
800-meter freestyle:
1 . Robert Finke, Florida 7:53.05, 2. Kiernan Smith, Florida 9:00.05, 3. Alfonso Mestre, Florida 8:00.49, 9. Joaquin Vargas, Azura 8:20.14.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com