Gators send large group to region
TAMPA - For the first time since 2003, the Land O' Lakes boys swim team will not enter a region meet as district champs.The Gators finished second to Lecanto at the Class 2A-District 2 meet Thursday at the New Tampa Family YMCA and only finished 14 points ahead of Sunlake. But the Gators will still have a large contingent of swimmers at the 2A-2 region meet Friday at the Central Orlando YMCA. Cameron Hilgenberg (200 freestyle, 100 free), Patrick Gray (200 individual medley, 100 backstroke), Austen Johannessen (200 I.M.), Grant Pawlak (50 free, 500 free), James Adams (100 butterfly), Andrew Morris (100 back) and Connor Sequeira (100 breaststroke) have advanced to region. Both of the Gators relays (200 free, 400 free) have qualifying times under last year's final region seed time.The final relay qualifiers will be announced tonight after results from all three districts are reported. There will be 13 at-large relays added to the three district winners. Land O' Lakes divers the difference Land O' Lakes has always been one of the teams that has stressed the importance of diving. It definitely was one of the reasons the Gators won the girls district title.With Meredith Diamond finishing third and Land O' Lakes also getting points from Megan McCarthy and Elise Herbert, the Gators earned 39 points from diving en route to their nine-point win against Sunlake for the girls team title."We've always stressed diving," said Land O' Lakes girls coach Robin Hilgenberg. "It was the same at (Sunshine Athletic) Conference."Land O' Lakes suffered setbacks in the last two weeks when junior Alexandra Pierovich was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her back the week before the SAC meet and just days before district and freshman Kristen Demsher fell and broke her thumb at club practice. Both probably would have finished in the top three in four individual events."We've had a lot of obstacles to overcome," Hilgenberg said. "I put out a really positive e-mail telling the girls to step it up and we're a team and everyone just needs to swim fast. I told them they just have to do what they have been trained to do and they did." The Gators' 400 free relay of Haley Long, Dona McDonald, Andrea Mapugay and Jocelyn Williams was the only event champion but Land O' Lakes will have at least 13 swimmers in individual events at region. Kirstin Dawson (200 free), Alexandra Haqq (50 free), Savannah Oliver (50 free, 100 free), Dana Lawson (500 free), Herbert (100 breast), Williams (200 IM, 100 breast), McDonald (200 IM), Mapugay (100 fly, 100 back) and Long (100 free, 100 breast) will compete in individual events. Diamond also should advance in diving and the 200 medley relay's time should be good enough to move on. Sunlake shines At the moment, all Sunlake coach Glenna Chamberlin felt was disappointment after the team scores were announced. But when she takes a look at the performance of her Seahawks - boys and girls - proud will be a better way to describe her emotions. Sunlake's girls finished second to Land O' Lakes 356-347, while the boys were third, 14 points behind the second-place Gators. The Seahawks girls had individual wins from Megan Huyhn (50 free), Nicole Harder (500 free) and Kaylin Sylvester (100 back) along with the 200 medley relay of Corigan Albert, Sylvester, Harder and Huyhn. In all, the Seahawks will have 14 individual region entries. Savannah Mattox (200 free), Courtney Meyer (200 IM, 100 back), Delaney Suarez (100 fly), Hilary Jones (500 free) and Julia Villicana (100 back) will join Albert (200 free, 100 fly), Harder (200 free), Sylvester (50 free) and Huynh (100 free) in Orlando. Their 200 free relay of Meyer, Johnson, Suarez and Mattox also should advance.The boys will send eight individuals and at least two relays to region. Led by Kyle Shaffer (200 IM champion, 100 breast), Austin Van Vliet (200 free, 100 free), Devin Anderson (200 free), Austin Wachsman (diving) and Nick Keach (100 free, 100 back) also advance. The 400 free relay of Keach, Anderson, Shaffer and Van Vliet finished first and advances automatically, while their 200 free relay finished second and also should move on. Repeat performances There were only three double-winners as Mitchell's Mazie Siddens (200 IM, 100 fly), Gulf's Hunter Swartsel (50 free, 100 free) and Ridgewood's Joseph Geschke (200 free, 100 back) won both of their individual events. Swartsel and Geschke were double-winners last year but not in the same events. Worth the drive Bishop McLaughlin and Pasco had to travel to Gainesville for the 1A-District 3 meet. Although Bishop McLaughlin made an entry error causing its girls' 200 free relay and 400 free relay teams to be disqualified, the Hurricanes will have six participants in Thursday's 1A-Region 1 meet at Florida State University. Maddie Siebold scored 380.50 to win diving, while Jemma Cropanese finished second in the 100 fly and 100 free. Others advancing are Sarah McConnell (200 free) and Camille Baumrucker (50 free, 100 breast).Pasco will send one girl and seven boys to region. Shannon Christmas (100 fly) was the only female Pasco swimmer to advance, but she probably will be joined by the Pirates' 200 medley relay and 200 free relay, based on last year's region seed times.Pasco's boys advancing are Peter Mercadante (50 free, 100 free), Mason Cruz (200 I.M., 100 back), Daniel Burt (200 I.M.), Tim Dombrowski (100 breast) and Caleb Balogh (100 breast). Diver Trevor Gibson finished third with 285.35 and probably will advance as well as the team's three relays.
Correspondent Rick Harmon covers Pasco County swimming and diving and can be reached at email@example.com.