By Steve Lee
LAND O’ LAKES — For just the second time in school history, Land O’ Lakes pulled off dual championships by winning two postseason meets.
Not coincidentally, there were more Gators to qualify for regionals (20, including 11 girls) than from any other school in Pasco County.
The Land O’ Lakes boys and girls teams swept the Sunshine Athletic Conference and Class 2A, District 5 meets at the New Tampa YMCA. That marked the second conference and district titles for both squads in the same season, matching the achievements of the 2006 Gators.
“It’s really neat, because we don’t like to separate the boys and the girls,” Land O’ Lakes coach Robin Hilgenberg said. “We want both groups to do well.”
Due to those dual achievements, Hilgenberg and Barbara Hayes, who share coaching duties at Land O’ Lakes, were named coaches of the year in the Sunshine Athletic Conference.
“That’s nice, too,” Hilgenberg said.
The Land O’ Lakes boys, who last season won the first regional championship in school history, did not repeat this year. Nor did the boys or girls from Land O’ Lakes have a state champion.
Neither did any of the county’s other schools, but Mitchell came close with freshman Devin McCaffrey finishing as a dual state runner-up in the 100-yard butterfly and 100 breaststroke.
On the girls side, Wiregrass Ranch junior Rebecca Pindral was the county’s lone state finalist. She overcame a broken nose before the conference meet to place eighth in the 100 breast at state.
As for the Gators, Alex Pierovich had the highest finish at state when she placed 11th in the 200 individual medley.
The SAC swimmers of the year were McCaffrey and Zephyrhills’ Lindsay Gorgen. The conference divers of the year were Zephyrhills’ Kenneth Betancourt-Reyes and Land O’ Lakes’ Meredith Diamond.
Pasco County State Qualifiers
- Gulf: Hunter Swartsel.
- Land O’ Lakes: Lauren Lynch, Karley Nelson and Alex Pierovich
- Mitchell: Gavin Hunt, Devin McCaffrey, Ian Ondrejka, Mazie Siddens and Alex Wegener.
- Ridgewood: Joe Geschke.
- Sunlake: Elizabeth Tillman.
- Wiregrass Ranch: Rebecca Pindral
- Zephyrhills: Lettie Clark, Lindsay Gorgen.