Local athletes and teams performed well at the 2021 FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) State Swimming and Diving Championships, held last month at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatics Athletics Center, in Stuart.
Eleven local schools were represented across the four classifications — Academy at the Lakes (Class 1A), Carrollwood Day School (1A), Cypress Creek High (2A), Wesley Chapel High (2A), Freedom High (3A), Gaither High (3A), Land O’ Lakes High (3A), Sunlake High (3A), Wharton High (3A), Wiregrass Ranch High (3A) and Steinbrenner High (4A).
Two of these programs registered top-10 finishes — the Freedom Patriots girls team finished fifth among the 46 schools competing in 3A, while the Sunlake Seahawks girls team finished eighth in the same classification.
Other noteworthy team showings came on the boys side in 3A — with Freedom notching a 14th place finish and Wiregrass Ranch a 15th place finish, out of 46 schools, respectively.
Freedom had a banner season — its boys and girls squads each won regional titles for the first time in school history — under the guidance of coaches John Olewski and Catherine Wright.
The squads claimed district and conference titles during the season, too.
“We had a phenomenal season,” Olewski wrote in an email to The Laker/Lutz News. “Assistant Coach Catherine Wright and I are so proud of the Freedom swimmers and divers. The administration, faculty, staff, and students of Freedom High School applaud the Freedom Swim & Dive team members and join them in celebrating their many successes this season.”
Freedom senior Michelle Morgan — a Division I University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill commit — registered the best individual showing among all area swimmers.
Morgan is a familiar name, for those who follow swimming.
She was one of the state’s top distance swimmers for years and she qualified for the 2020 U.S. Olympics Trials in the 400-meter individual medley.
At states, Morgan took gold in the 3A 200-yard individual medley, clocking 2:01.06 to finish ahead of Gainesville High senior Katherine Sammy (2:01.90).
She also won the event last year, posting a 2:00.92.
For reference, the state record in the girls 200-yard individual medley is 1:57.07 set in 2009 by then Countryside High’s Melanie Margalis, who went on become an Olympic relay gold medalist for the U.S. National Team.
Morgan collected more hardware, taking silver in the 3A 500-yard freestyle.
Her time of 4:53.78 trailed only Chiles High senior Stella Watts, who swam in 4:46.86.
She also was a leg on the Patriots’ medal-earning 200-yard medley and 200-yard freestyle relay teams, which finished fourth and fifth, respectively.
Other Freedom relay members were seniors Carly Joerin and Alexa Valdez Velez, and freshman Alex LaBohn.
Joerin — a Division I Dartmouth College commit — likewise notched robust individual medalist performances, taking fourth in the 500-yard freestyle (5:00.03) and fifth in the 200-yard individual medley (2:08.56).
Also in 3A, the Sunlake girls tallied five medals (or top-eight finishes).
The Seahawks best showing was the 400-yard freestyle relay, which finished in sixth place with a 3:42.12. The squad consisted of seniors Lillian Hilt, Amber Ewald and Leah Fonnotto, and junior Madison Houck.
Carrollwood Day sophomore Adele Sands was another area standout, in the small-school 1A competition. She took third in the 1A 100-yard freestyle (51:50) and fourth in the 1A 200-yard freestyle.
In the boys’ end of the pool, the highest individual finish came from Gaither freshman Aidan Levine, who took sixth in the 3A 100-yard backstroke (52.85).
Levine also was a leg on Gaither’s 3A 200-meter freestyle relay, which finished 16th (1:33.11).
The next best showing was Wiregrass Ranch senior Noah Porter, who earned seventh in the 3A 100-yard freestyle (48.11).
He also took 11th in the 200-yard individual medley (1:59.12) and was a leg on the team’s 200-yard medley relay (ninth, 1:40.98) and 400-yard freestyle relay (3:21.40).
Altogether, local boys and girls individual and relay teams combined to register 16 medals (top-eight finishes).
Also noteworthy: The girls state 50-yard free record (22.22) set last year by former Steinbrenner High swimmer Lexi Mulvihill remained intact.
The closest to that mark came in the 1A meet, when South Florida HEAT (Home Educated Athletic Teams) sophomore Erika Pelaez posted a 22.29 — .07 behind the record.
Mulvihill is now a freshman scholarship swimmer for Auburn University.
Results among locals at the state meet:
Steinbrenner (tied 41st place, out of 47 schools)
50-yard freestyle: Gavin Peck, sophomore (disqualified, false start)
100-yard freestyle: Gavin Peck, sophomore (10th, 47.18)
Steinbrenner (22nd place, out of 43 schools)
200-yard individual medley: Kayla Daley, junior (16th, 2:11.26)
100-yard butterfly: Kayla Daley, junior (14th, 57.69)
100-yard freestyle: Gavriela Daniels, sophomore (15th, 52.96)
200-yard freestyle relay: Charlotte MacGregor, sophomore; Kayla Daley, junior; Gavriela Daniels, sophomore; Abigail Greene, senior (ninth, 1:38.36)
Freedom (14th place, out of 46 schools)
200-yard medley relay: Martin Ferrebee, junior; Anthony Murashkin, freshman; Gregory Murashkin, freshman; Sean Thatavakorn, freshman (10th, 1:41.27)
200-yard freesyle: Martin Ferrebee, junior (14th, 1:45.62)
200-yard individual medley: Sean Thatavakorn, freshman (15th, 2:00.69)
100-yard freestyle: Sean Thatavakorn, freshman (12th, 48.82)
500-yard freestyle: Martin Ferrebee, junior (10th, 4:41.90)
100-yard breaststroke: Anthony Murashkin, freshman (15th, 1:02.02)
400-yard freestyle relay: Martin Ferrebee junior; Ethan Udagawa, junior; Brandon Thatavakorn, freshman, Sean Thatavakorn, freshman (11th, 3:19.90)
Wiregrass Ranch (15th)
200-yard medley relay: Parker Munari, senior; Noah Porter, senior; Robert Childers, senior; Kevin Chen, senior (ninth, 1:40.98)
200-yard individual medley: Noah Porter, senior (11th, 1:59.12)
100-yard freestyle: Noah Porter, senior (seventh, 48.11)
400-yard freestyle: Kevin Chen, senior; Robert Childers, senior; Parker Munari, senior; Noah Porter, senior (13th, 3:21.40)
Gaither (tied 31st)
200-yard freestyle relay: Aidan Levine, freshman; William Acero Clark, senior; Anibal Utrera, senior; Zachary Cannon, senior (16th, 1:33.11)
100-yard backstroke: Aidan Levine, freshman (sixth, 52.85)
Sunlake (tied 31st)
200-yard freestyle relay: Tien Duong, junior; Jackson Houck, junior; Connor Canfield, sophomore; Alex Thai, junior (13th, 1:32.37)
100-yard breaststroke: Alex Thai, junior (10th, 1:01.04)
Land O’ Lakes (40th)
100-yard butterfly: Michael McCloskey, junior (ninth, 51.83)
Freedom (Fifth, out of 46 schools)
200-yard medley relay: Michelle Morgan, senior; Alex LaBohn, freshman; Carly Joerin, senior; Alexa Valdez Velez, senior (fourth, 1:49.36)
200-yard individual medley: Michelle Morgan, senior (first, 2:01.51); Carly Joerin, senior (fifth, 2:08.56)
500-yard freestyle: Michelle Morgan, senior (second, 4:53.78); Carly Joerin, senior (fourth, 5:00.03)
200-yard freestyle relay: Carly Joerin, senior; Alexa Valdez Velez, senior; Alex LaBohn, freshman Michelle Morgan, senior (fifth, 1:39.58)
100-yard breaststroke: Alex LaBohn (15th, 1:09.10)
200-yard medley relay: Amber Ewald, senior; Lillian Hilt, senior; Piyarmard Edwards, sophomore; Madison Houck, junior (seventh, 1:51.26)
200-yard individual medley: Lillian Hilt, senior (seventh, 2:10.31)
50-yard freestyle: Madison Houck, junior (14th, 24.81)
500-yard freestyle: Leah Fonnotto, senior (16th, 5:22.77)
100-yard backstroke: Madison Houck, junior (seventh, 58.77); Lillian Hilt, senior (eighth, 59.57); Amber Ewald, senior (10th, 58.93)
400-yard freestyle relay: Lillian Hilt, senior; Amber Ewald, senior; Leah Fonnotto, senior; Madison Houck, junior (sixth, 3:42.12)
Wiregrass Ranch (28th)
50-yard freestyle: Maryam Khalil, senior (tied 11th, 24.60)
100-yard breaststroke: Maryam Khalil, senior (seventh, 1:07)
100-yard breaststroke: Lauren Blevins, sophomore (12th, 1;07.41)
Land O’ Lakes (No points)
Diving: Lillianna Diberadinis, sophomore (20th, 223.55)
Class 2A Boys
No local schools or individual placed finishers
Class 2A Girls
Cypress Creek (No place)
1-meter diving Isabelle Le-Nguyen (17th, 204.80)
Wesley Chapel (No place)
1-meter diving: Jessica Roehrig, junior (21st, 126.40)
Academy at the Lakes (34th, out of 38 schools)
50-yard freestyle: Nathaniel Smith, sophomore (15th, 22.02)
100-yard freestyle: Nathaniel Smith, sophomore (13th, 23.11)
Carrollwood Day School (18th, out of 44 schools)
200-yard freestyle: Adele Sands, sophomore (fourth, 1:50.59)
100-yard freestyle: Adele Sands, sophomore (third, 51.50)
Published December 01, 2021