TAMPA — The first official Hillsborough County Swimming Championship meet was held Friday at Bobby Hicks Pool, quickly, efficiently and with a few exciting event finishes.
Plant ended up taking both the boys and girls team titles, the boys cruising in a little more comfortably than the girls. The Panthers boys won with 80 points, 44 ahead of Bloomingdale. King was third with 34.
On the girls side, the Panthers won with 85 points, edging Newsome by eight on a day that featured several head-to-head battles between the Panthers and Wolves.
The day’s most exciting event was arguably the girls 200 free relay, in which two reigning state champions ≠≠≠— Newsome’s Maddie Hess (Class 3A 100 backstroke and 100 free) and Plant’s Ally Donahue (100 breaststroke) — faced off on the race’s final leg.
In the end, Hess edged Donahue by the reach of her fingertips, winning by a tenth of a second in 1 minute, 42.81 seconds.
“That race was the perfect example of why we wanted to have a county championship meet,” Plant coach Gil Gonzalez said. “Two reigning state champions facing off against each other.”
Hess and Donahue are both county individual champs: Hess in the 100 free and 100 back, and Donahue in the 100 breast and 200 IM, where she finished in 2:08.47 to barely edge Wharton’s Dee Sopapong.
Friday’s county championship was formed this week after three divisional meets — Federal, National and American — determined the top two qualifiers in each event from each division.
It was a formula, Gonzalez said, that seemed to work pretty well.
One of the most encouraging boys groups was Plant’s foursome of Kyle Kimura, Tyler Heath, Cameron Davidson and Paxton Rhoads, who combined to win the 200 medley relay in 1:45.80.
The foursome also competed well in other individual events with Kimura winning the 200 free, Heath taking the 200 IM, and Rhoads winning the 100 breast.
“Overall, I think it was a good meet for everybody,” Gonzalez said.