Returning to Wiregrass Ranch High for the first time since his departure this past summer was Mitchell boys swimming coach Tanner Schmitz, who started the Wiregrass program in 2008. With both teams being among the top in Pasco County behind Land O’ Lakes, Mitchell and Wiregrass Ranch split at a dual meet last Wednesday at the New Tampa YMCA.
The Wiregrass Ranch girls, coached by Alisa Cimino, easily edged Mitchell 109-74. Among the double winners on the night were Madison Conway, in the 100 butterfly (1:04.16) and 200 freestyle (2:14.15), and Athena Cimino, in the 100 freestyle (53.98) and 200 IM (2:19.66).
On the boys side, the Mustangs edged the Bulls 92-88. The squads were tied heading to the final two events, but Mitchell took the 200 free relay 12-2 and Wiregrass Ranch won the 400 free relay 10-4.
Double winners on the evening were Mitchell’s Kevin Smith in the 100 butterfly (56.36) and 100 backstroke (59.01), and Wiregrass Ranch’s Matt Menendez in the 50 (23.21) and 500 freestyles (5:13.06) and Jake Still taking the 100 breaststroke (1:07.81) and 200 IM (2:21.92).
Pasco’s Gelb breaks 500 free record
Freshmen joining Pasco’s girls swim team and becoming standouts is starting to be a recent trend. Last season, Sarah Kate Massey broke onto the Pasco County circuit and won a SAC title, placed at the regional meet and qualified for states in Orlando.
With Massey out for the season due to shoulder surgery, another freshman has broken a school record, according to Pirates coach Becky Johnson. Emily Gelb set the school record in the 500 freestyle with a time of 5:42.16. Gelb helps provide solid depth for the Pirates and Johnson believes the freshman could be one to watch for as the season continues.
“She’s really motivated in her goal to make it to the state meet,” Johnson said of Gelb. “She’s only a freshman and it’s ridiculous how fast she swims the 500 freestyle. (Gelb) is about the same caliber as Massey, though one is a distance swimmer and the other is short distance. We have a good group of boys and girls on the team this season and we’re hoping to get a few of them qualified for states.”
New coaches in Pasco
During the offseason, a number of longtime coaches exited and new faces stepped into their places. Among those who left are Barbara Hayes (Land O’ Lakes), Scott Hernon (Mitchell), Glenna Chamberlain (Sunlake) and Casey Claflin, who left Gulf and now coaches at Ridgewood. Hernon now coaches at Countryside in Clearwater.
Among the new coaches are Michele Walicke (Gulf), Kelly Erickson (Mitchell), Kristy Dell (Sunlake), Shelly Koutras (Sunlake), Alisa Cimino (Wiregrass Ranch) and Adam Stoll (Wiregrass Ranch). Brian Vaile and Tanner Schmitz were formerly at Zephyrhills and Wiregrass Ranch.
Correspondent Andy Villamarzo covers Pasco County prep swimming and can be reached at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @avillamarzo.