Local high schools shine at state swim meets

The 2017 Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Swimming & Diving Championships wrapped up its meets across all four classes on Nov. 11.

Land O’ Lakes High School shined in the Class 2A swim meet on Nov. 3 at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart. The girls squad finished fifth (out of 47 teams), while the boys placed 10th (out of 39 teams). (Courtesy of Brian Vaile)

Among local schools, Land O’ Lakes and Sunlake displayed the strongest showings at the state event, held at Sailfish Splash Water Park in Stuart.

The Sunlake High School girls team placed fourth (out of 48 schools) in the Class 3A meet, marking the highest finish of any team in The Laker/Lutz News coverage area.

The showing yielded six state medals and six school records.

Seahawks sophomore Chloe Grimme exhibited perhaps the most impressive performance, placing first in the 50 free (23.11) and second in the 100 free (51.18), earning All-American honors.

Grimme also teamed with Tori Eurell, Elise Ballash and Hanna Barton win the 200 free relay (1:36.88). She, too, teamed with Eurell, Barton and Audrey Ballash to finish third in the 200 medley relay (1:48.13).

Other Seahawks highlights included Elise Ballash’s seventh-place finish in the 100 breast (1:06.10) and Audrey Ballash’s 11th-place finish in the 200 individual medley (2:09.91).

On the Sunlake boys side, sophomore Dominic Ortanez placed fourth in the 50 free (21.63), and sophomore Jay Jay Fonnotto placed 19th in the 100 fly. His time of 53:43 is a school record.

Sunlake High’s swim and dive program had several strong performances at the Class 3A state meet, including a fourth place finish by the girls team, along with strong individual performances on the boys side. Pictured front, left: Jay Jay Fonnotto (sophomore) and Dominic Ortanez (sophomore). Pictured back, from left: Coach Lorin Macdonald, Elise Ballash (junior), Audrey Ballash (sophomore), Alex Sprague (freshman), Hanna Barton (junior), Tori Eurell (sophomore), Chloe Grimme (sophomore) and Coach Shelly Koutras. (Courtesy of Shelly Koutras)

Land O’ Lakes High School, meanwhile, thrived in the Class 2A swim meet.

The girls squad finished fifth (out of 47 teams), while the boys placed 10th (out of 39 teams).

Two-time defending state champion Jabari Ramsey earned his third straight gold medal in in the 100 breaststroke, with a time of 56:11.

The Land O’ Lakes senior became the first boy swimmer from Pasco County, and just the fifth from the area, to win three straight titles in the same event.

He tied former Mitchell standout Devin McCaffrey for the most career individual titles by a North Suncoast swimmer with three.

The hardware didn’t end there for Ramsey. He teamed with Patryk Pilkowski, Zachary Davis and Zuri Ramsey to win the 200 medley relay in 1:35.97, smashing last year’s school record of 1:39.09 — becoming the first ever Pasco County relay team to win gold at the Class 2A state championships.

Along with Jabari Ramsey, Pilkowski reached the podium as an individual with his third-place finish in the 100 backstroke. His mark of 51:75 broke the previous school record by a full three seconds.

On the girls side, junior Taylor Ward earned a pair of second-place finishes in the 200 free (1:50.27) and the 500 free (4:56.57).

Ward also teamed with Romina McCloskey, Margarita Czupryn and Ashley Schrader for third in the 200-yard free relay (1:39.71) and fourth in the 400 free relay (3:38.54) — both school records.

Another school record was set by McCloskey in the 100 free (53:07). The individual time was good enough for an eighth-place finish at states.

The FHSAA championships wrapped up an otherwise notable season for the Gators, historically one of the county’s top high school swim programs.

Both boys and girls squads won district and Sunshine Athletic Conference titles, and finished runner-up at regionals. The conference titles marked the 17th straight for the boys team and ninth straight for the girls.

Other schools in The Laker/Lutz News coverage area with teams or individuals represented in the state meet were: Academy at the Lakes, Freedom, Steinbrenner and Wesley Chapel high schools.

2017 FHSAA Swimming & Diving Championships results:

Class 4A

Steinbrenner High School (22nd place—26 points)

Notable(s): Kyle Stoker finished seventh in the 200 free (1:42.67) and with teammates Max Martino, A.J. Harkness and Bradley Stoker 11th in the 200-yard free relay (1:29.81)


Steinbrenner High School (14th place—63 points)

Notable(s): Freshman Lexie Mulvihill placed second in the 50 free (23.16) and with teammates Justine Answeeney, Taylor Holmes and Mackenzie Hall fifth in the 200 free relay (1:38.16) and ninth in the 400 free relay (3:36.83)

Class 3A

Sunlake High School (25th place—24 points)


Sunlake High School (fourth place—131 points)

Freedom High School (10th place—86 points)

Notable(s): Sophomore Abigail Leisure finished fifth in the 200 individual medley (2:07.35), third in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.30) and with teammates McKaley Goldblum, Genevieve Clark and Hannah Labohn seventh in the 400 free relay.

Class 2A

Land O’ Lakes High School (10th place—92 points)


Land O’ Lakes High School (fifth place—114 points)

Wesley Chapel High School (29th place—23 points)

Notable(s): Senior Brooke Duncan placed fifth in the 50 yard free (24.52)

Class 1A

Academy at the Lakes (23rd place—24 points)

Notable(s): Freshman McKenna Smith placed fourth in the 100 free (51.10)

Published November 22, 2017


  1. Thomas G says:

    I love that you took time to write about swimming as it is an overlooked sport. Swimmers are by far the hardest working athletes on the planet Period!!! My concern though is why you chose to feature LOL when Sunlake not only placed higher is a much more competitive class, 3A, but the Girls team won Regionals!!!! AMAZING to say the least, but not even a mention. Lastly, Chloe Grimme not only captured the schools first State Championship it also helped the highly underrated relay team to a GOLD and a Bronze medal. In all, this article was nice. It it was extremely unfortunate that the right kids missed their deserved moment in the spotlight.

  2. It’s very difficult to accept when someone slam dunks “you are wrong” in your face, but I admit that I was wrong and I thank you for the wonderful coverage you provide to our area.
    Thanks again.

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