Carroll junior Austin Hale and partner Alicia Bertsch won first place Friday at the United States Figure Skating Championships in the intermediate pairs division. The duo, which has been competing together for less than two years, finished second in their division last year.
Hale, 16, and Bertsch, 12, scored 67.85 in Omaha, Neb., to easily top the second-place total of 59.65. Hale and Bertsch's score was seven points higher than last year's championship total.
``They skated perfectly clean,'' said Fort Wayne Ice Skating Club coach Alena Lunin. ``They didn't have any mistakes, It was just how we planned.''
Bertsch, who lives in Ann Arbor, Mich., spends the summers in Fort Wayne to work with Lunin and Hale, and then comes down every weekend during the school year to practice on Saturday and Sunday afternoons at Lutheran Health SportsCenter. They will now move up to the novice division when the next season starts in June.
Lunin's son Sasha, also had a great performance at nationals, finishing third in the juvenile boys division as a singles skater. The 12-year-old will move up to the intermediate level next season. He's a sixth grader at Maple Creek Middle School.
``We're all happy and proud of their acheivements,'' Alena Lunin said.