By Sharon Robb

November 12, 2014—Eighteen boys are out to prove that last year’s first State 2A boys team title was no fluke for American Heritage Plantation.

It’s all the motivation the undefeated Patriots need.

With three strong relays and some outstanding individual swimmers, the Patriots are poised to do just that Friday at the Pinch-A-Penny FHSAA State 2A Swimming and Diving Championships at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart.

It will be the Patriots’ second year competing in the 2A class. Tampa Jesuit and Clay will be their closest rivals.

“I know a bunch of our kids have heard from some of the other classes claiming this class is easy,” said American Heritage coach Nobutaka Tan. “That gives them a lot of fire. I told some of the seniors they need to show what they are capable of doing.”

Last year the Patriots won by more than 100 points with 276 points with an individual title from Nico Medina in the 500-yard freestyle and 200-yard medley relay win with Medina, Digby Nothard, Fernando Bohorquez and Taylor Eaddy. Medina, Bohorquez and Eaddy return off that relay.

With a second and third in the other relays, the Patriots’ relays scored 106 points alone.

“I couldn’t have been more happier with the kids last year,” Tan said. “We were deep enough and had an almost perfect meet. We know this year the competition will be really, really tight. There’s a lot of fast kids from a lot of different schools.

“Our kids haven’t been fully-shaved or tapered until this weekend,” Tan said. “We are looking very much for fast times. We know the competition will be good. I keep reminding them it’s not going to be easy.”

South Florida Aquatic Club’s Julien Pinon is ranked No. 1 in the county in the 200-yard freestyle (1:41.92). He will be joined by SOFLO teammates CJ Kopecki and Cristian Rossi.

Top-ranked American Heritage is ranked first in the county in the 200-yard medley relay (1:37.99) and 400-yard freestyle relay (3:11.68) and third in the 200-yard freestyle (1:28.46).

“The kids are really excited,” Tan said. “Obviously, they want to repeat. They put up a pretty strong standard last year and they know what they are looking for this year.

“We do have quality kids. In a way it’s a more mature team than last year’s but kids are kids. Last year they didn’t know what they had but I knew it would be very competitive. They know we have to be cautious. One DQ and it is a different meet. It will be very competitive again.”

Tan said it’s important for every swimmer in morning prelims to step up not just the top ones.

“If the boys do what they are suppose to do, we could repeat,” he said. “They have the experience, they know what to do. Some of the kids have been relying on other kids. We have Julien who has been there all season long and Fernando and Nico. Our kids need to step up.”

Pensacola Washington is defending 2A girls state champion but could be challenged by Gulliver Prep for the title. Suncoast, with top-seed Fabiana Ingram, is a strong contender for top three status.

American Heritage’s outstanding sprinter Catharine Cooper will compete Friday night and then hop a plane on Saturday for Veracruz, Mexico where she will represent Panama in the XXII Central American and Caribbean Games. She will compete in the 100 freestyle.

In the State 1A competition on Saturday, the battle will be for second place. Perennial powerhouse Jacksonville Bolles has the depth, talent and coaching.

In one of the nation’s fastest high school state meets, Jacksonville Bolles is expected to add another page to its very large history book.

The Bolles boys team have won 26th consecutive team titles and the girls team have won 23rd straight team titles.

Pine Crest, University School, St. Andrew’s, Trinity Prep and Ransom Everglades will be in the mix for the remaining top three places.

IF YOU GO

What: Pinch-A-Penny FHSAA State 2A Swimming and Diving Meet

When: Friday, 9 a.m. prelims, 5:30 p.m. finals

Where: Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center, 931 S.E. Ruhnke St., Stuart.

Admission: $9 per session, parking $5.

What: Pinch-A-Penny FHSAA State 1A Swimming and Diving Meet.

When: Saturday, 9 a.m., 5:30 p.m. finals

Where: Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center, 931 S.E. Ruhnke St., Stuart.

Admission: $9 per session, parking $5.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com
http://www.swim4soflo.com

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