Coaches have talent to build on at Wiregrass
LAND O' LAKES - New Wiregrass Ranch coach Tanner Schmitz introduced Brandon Leroche and Zac Serota as his "state qualifier hopefuls" before the Bulls' boys meet Wednesday against Sunlake. It was a bold statement for a rookie coach. While Schmitz is new to swimming, he's not new to coaching and the competition that comes with it. He has coached football in the county and is the son of former River Ridge and Mitchell football coach Scott Schmitz. "Both of us (including girls coach Leah Zachewicz) are first-year coaches," Schmitz said. "We're still learning the ropes. We're changing the philosophy a little bit. This team has had three coaches in three years." Schmitz and Zachewicz replaced Melissa Brain, who was named coach when Nicole Bracielle went on maternity leave before last season started.With Leroche and Serota, along with freshman Matt Menendez, Wiregrass could have something to say about who advances through the state tournament series, but the Bulls will struggle in dual meets against the upper-echelon teams because the team doesn't have any divers. "When you don't have diving, it makes a difference," Schmitz said. "If you score just swimming, I think it's a big difference." Sunlake won Wednesday's boys meet 105-79, and without diving it still would have won. But the 13 points the Bulls gave up are tough to make up. On the girls side, relays are going to be the Bulls' strong events. Rebecca Pindral, Fern Powell, Makayla Strickland, Chelsea Hernandez and Toni Tomei will be mixed together in the three relays. The team of Strickland, Pindral, Powell and Tomei won the 200 medley relay against Sunlake, while Strickland, Pindral, Powell and Tomei finished first in the 200 freestyle relay. "I'll put them up against anyone," Schmitz said. The Bulls don't get much time to relax, as they return to the Land O' Lakes Recreation Center on Monday to swim against Land O' Lakes in a rescheduled match. Record setters Each week, we will run a list of swimmers who have recently established team records. Boys: In Mitchell's first meet of the season against River Ridge on Sept. 1, Gavin Hunt swam 58.60 in the 100 backstroke and teamed with Ian Ondrejka, Anthony Chang and Devin McCaffrey for a 3.36.43 in the 400 freestyle relay. Then, against Ridgewood, McCaffrey broke his school record in the 200 freestyle with a 1:48.15. Against Sunlake on Wednesday, Menendez set two Wiregrass Ranch records - 5:20.57 in the 500 freestyle and 1:02.37 in the 100 butterfly. Girls: Sunlake sophomore Nicole Harder and freshman Carigan Albert broke records against Wiregrass Ranch on Wednesday. Harder swam 5:33.78 in the 500 freestyle, while Albert turned in a 2:19.79 in the 200 individual medley. This week's schedule Monday - Wiregrass Ranch at Land O' Lakes (Land O' Lakes Recreation Center), 6 p.m. Wednesday - Fivay at Mitchell (Gills YMCA), 5:30 p.m.; River Ridge at Hudson (Veterans Memorial Pool), 5:30 p.m.; Sunlake at Land O' Lakes (Land O' Lakes Recreation Center), 6 p.m.; Anclote at Ridgewood (New Port Richey Aquatic Center), 6 p.m.; Zephyrhills at Wesley Chapel (Meadow Pointe 1 Clubhouse), 6 p.m. Saturday - Bishop McLaughlin at the Florida Catholic State Championships in Orlando. RESULTS BOYS 200 medley relay - Mitchell (Gavin Hunt, Ian Ondrejka, Devin McCaffrey, Anthony Chang) 1:46.03 200 freestyle - Devin McCaffrey (Mitchell) 1:48.15 200 individual medley - Kyle Shaffer (Sunlake) 2:16.14 50 freestyle - Gavin Hunt (Mitchell) 23.21 Diving - Austin Wachsman (Sunlake) 229.20 100 butterfly - Devin McCaffrey (Mitchell) 53.65 100 freestyle - Hunter Swartsel (Gulf) 50.79 500 freestyle - Devin McCaffrey (Mitchell) 5:03.31 200 freestyle relay - Mitchell (Gavin Hunt, Ian Ondrejka, Anthony Chang, Devin McCaffrey) 1:42.31 100 backstroke - Joe Geschke (Ridgewood) 56.75 100 breaststroke - Ian Ondrejka (Mitchell) 1:08.79 400 freestyle relay - Mitchell (Gavin Hunt, Ian Ondrejka, Anthony Chang, Devin McCaffrey) 3:36.43 GIRLS 200 medley relay - Wiregrass Ranch (Makayla Strickland, Rebecca Pindral, Fern Powell, Toni Tomei) 2:05.62 200 freestyle - Carigan Albert (Sunlake) 2:03.93 200 individual medley - Alex Pierovich (Land O' Lakes) 2:17.19 50 freestyle - Lettie Clark (Zephyrhills) 27.25 Diving - Amanda Maser (Mitchell) 202.60 100 butterfly - Mazie Siddens (Mitchell) 1:01.00 100 freestyle - Lindsay Gorgen (Zephyrhills) 1:00.54 500 freestyle - Kristen Demsher (Land O' Lakes) 5:31.33 200 freestyle relay - Sunlake (Savannah Mattox, Megan Huynh, Carigan Albert, Courtney Meyer) 1:55.75 100 backstroke - Kaylin Sylvester (Sunlake) 1:05.48 100 breaststroke - Rebecca Pindral (Wiregrass Ranch) 1:13.99 400 freestyle relay - Sunlake (Nicole Harder, Carigan Albert, Kaylin Sylvester, Megan Huynh) 4:06.72
Correspondent Rick Harmon covers Pasco County swimming and diving and can be reached at email@example.com.