Dover's Hunter Armstrong qualifies for the Olympics after finishing runner-up in Men's 100 Backstroke at U.S. Olympic Trials

Roger Metzger
The Times-Reporter
Ryan Murphy holds up Hunter Armstrong's arm after finishing the men's 100-meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic Trials on Tuesday night.

He's off to Tokyo.

Dover's Hunter Armstrong finished as runner-up in the Men's 100 Meter Backstroke and punched his ticket to the Summer Olympics after his performance at the U.S Olympic Swimming Trials held at Omaha, Neb., Tuesday night.

The 20-year-old Armstrong finished with a time of 52.48.

"I'm definitely on a high right now," said Armstrong. "I'm just thankful for all of the support I have gotten and of course the Lord above for getting me here."

Defending Olympic champ Ryan Murphy, 25, was tops with a 52.33 and automatically qualified for the Olympics to be held next month in Tokyo, Japan.

Dover High School swim coach Brenda Wherley said Armstrong did himself, his family, his friends, his school and community proud.

"Unbelievable...absolutely unbelievable," Wherley said Tuesday night from a party she was at with fellow Crimson Tornado coaches. "It is truly surreal. We're so proud of him and I can't stress that enough. He's a freaking Olympian from little Dover, Ohio."

At the halfway point, Armstrong was seventh out of the eight swimmers, but blazed over the second 50 meters for his second-place finish.

You can watch Amstrong's swim at the 42:18 minute mark below

U.S. Swimming Trials: Day 3 Finals (NBC Live)

Wherley said Armstrong turned it on when he had to.

"He was seventh at the turn," Wherley said incredulously. "He just turned it on. He's a back half swimmer. That was a great race."

Armstrong flipped seventh at the 50m mark (25.73), and then barely slowed down on the second length, splitting 26.75, which was the only sub-27 split in the field. The final time, 52.48, also marked another personal best time for Armstrong, who seems to improve every time he races.

Shaine Casas, Ryan Murphy and Hunter Armstrong participate in the Men's 100 Backstroke during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in Omaha, Neb.

Armstrong started the year with a lifetime best of 54.74, and has already whittled that down to 52.48, an improvement of 2.26 seconds.

Armstrong is now the No. 5 performer all-time in U.S. history, moving up from No. 7, which is where his semifinals swim landed him.

The 2019 Dover High School graduate and current Ohio State University swimmer won the second semifinal Monday night in the Men's 100 Backstroke at the U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials with a personal best time of 52.67.

Armstrong was seeded second behind Murphy, who claimed the No. 1 seed by winning the first semifinal with a 52.22 time for the swimmer from Jacksonville, Fla.

The former Crimson Tornado took down Shaine Casas and Bryce Mefford in the second semi.

Hunter Armstrong reacts after winning the Men's 100 Backstroke during wave 2 of the U.S. Olympic Swim Trials on Monday, June 14, 2021, in Omaha, Neb.

Armstrong began his college career at West Virginia, but transferred to Ohio State ahead of the 2020-21 season. He finished second in the 100-meter Backstroke and third in the 100-meter Free at the Big Ten Championships and qualified for the NCAA Championships in the 50-meter Free, 100-meter Free and 100-meter Backstroke.

Armstrong posted the fifth-fastest time in the history of the event and now has a chance to add an Olympic medal to his trophy case.

Armstrong finished 19th in the 100 Freestyle on Wednesday with a 49.31 (was seeded 36th with a 49.74), but did not qualify to the semifinals. He will also swim in the 50 Free on Saturday where he is seeded 35th (22.57).

There will be no spectators allowed to travel to Japan when the Olympics convene next month due to COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

The 2020 Olympics were canceled because of the global pandemic and rescheduled for July.

Reach Roger at 330-364-8425 or on twitter:@trsportsguy