Lots of cool stuff could go down for the Tampa Bay area this weekend at the Class A and 2A state swim meets at Sailfish Splash Waterpark in Stuart. Five things to watch (besides the rain and dropping temperatures).
Bolles could lose!
It's possible. It really is.
After breaking down the pre-meet qualifiers and times and so forth, both the Jacksonville Bolles boys and girls swim teams — who have won 30 and 27 straight state team titles, respectively — could lose Friday night at the Class A meet.
And guess who has a chance, albeit somewhat of an outside chance, to knock off one of the giants?
Berkeley Prep's boys.
"We would need everything to go just right and we need some help from other teams, but yes, that said, it should be very close between five teams (Bolles, Berkeley Prep, Saint Andrews, Pine Crest and Episcopal)," Berkeley Prep coach Kevin Rosepapa said. "It could get very interesting."
The Bucs' boys are extra excited for a couple of reasons, including: Without being at full strength for various reasons earlier in the season, the Bucs lost only 155-150 to Bolles in a dual meet; one of the Bucs' top swimmers, Matthew Dieffenthaller, appears ready to bounce back in a big way after breaking his foot midway through the season.
Other reasons for hope include Peter Tanner, Ryaan Hatoum, Christopher Dieffenthaller, George Gramling, Logan Ingerick, Jack Harrison, Tyler Roberton and Dante DesRosier, all of whom should either score as an individual or on a relay Friday.
On the girls side, the giant killers could be Pine Crest, which in 1990 was the last school to defeat Bolles at the state meet.
Berkeley's girls are quite in the conversation to win a state team title, but the Bucs' girls are still expected to place fairly high in the team race.
Jesuit prepares to defend
Last year, for the first time in 71 years, and for only the second time in 97 years, a Hillsborough County swim team won a state title.
That team was Jesuit.
It is possible the Tigers could win again, but after breaking down all the scenarios it appears Gulliver Prep is favored — although not be much.
"We need some things to go our way," Jesuit coach Bill Shaffer said.
Expect the Tigers to score a bunch of points throughout its lineup, but not necessarily with first-pace finishes, except for distance specialist Brendan Driscoll, who is once again favored to win.
Along with all the relays, more Tiger contributors include Robby Shaffer (100 fly and three relays), Tyler Carreja (100 fly, 200 IM), Nick Shaffer (100 back, 200 IM) and Alex Caceres (50 free, 100 free).
Jesuit's practice mates, Academy of the Holy Names, are seriously in the hunt to take home a team runnerup trophy for the third straight year.
Two divers from Tampa Bay, Berkeley Prep senior Nicole Stambo and Tampa Prep junior Nicholas Carlin, are seeded first heading into the Class A diving competition Friday afternoon.
Both, however, appear to face fierce competition from a few other divers posting comparable qualifying scores.
Berkeley Prep also features junior Amy Wotovich as a sixth seed and on the boys' side Shorecrest Prep senior Dominic Hoefer comes in as the fifth seed.
The past couple of years Stambo has won the state title, then placed second last year after missing on her toughest dive, a reverse two-and-a-half tuck, a dive involving so much difficulty that no other girl in the state attempts.
In Class 2A, a pair of divers from Dunedin High, junior Lexi Atherholt and Jake Thompson, are seeded second and third, respectively, with qualifying scores (434 and 456.25) that are also within striking range of the leaders.
The 500 freestyle has three local swimmers — Shorecrest Prep junior Caleb Kravitz in Class A, and Land O' Lakes senior Taylor Ward and Jesuit's Driscoll in Class 2A — who are among the the heavy favorites to take home gold.
Driscoll is the defending state champ in the 500 free and Ward returns after finishing second in the event last year. Both are seeded No. 1.
Kravitz comes in seeded No. 2, but his qualifying time of four minutes, 32.28, just .09 seconds behind the fastest qualifying time.
Academy of the Holy Names sophomore Cassidy Neely is also in the conversation, but probably for a silver medal behind Ward. Neely's time of 5:04.60 is almost five seconds behind Ward's qualifying time.
In Class 2A, Land O' Lakes is ready to grab plenty of the spotlight with Ward in the 200 (seeded second), senior Patrick Pilkowski in the 50 free (first) and the 100 backstroke (second), senior Romina McCloskey in the 100 free (third), sophomore Zuri Ramsey in the 100 free (third), the Gators girls 200 free relay (second), the boys 200 free relay (second), the girls in the 400 free relay (third) and the boys 400 free relay (fourth). … Lakewood's boys are also seeded fourth in the 200 medley relay … In Class A, Academy at the Lakes sophomore McKenna Smith is seeded third in the 50 free. … Berkeley Prep freshman Allison Holmes is seeded fourth in the 100 breaststroke.