SOFLO’s Kopecki, Farah Play Key Role In American Heritage Three-Peat At FHSAA State 2A Meet; Freshman Larin Swims Best Time, Makes Final

By Sharon Robb

November 7, 2015—In an exciting finish, American Heritage boys team came from behind to defend its title at the Pinch-A-Penny FHSAA State 2A Swimming and Diving Meet Saturday at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart.

With only eight swimmers, including South Florida Aquatic Club’s CJ Kopecki and Jonathan Farah, the Patriots went down to the wire to clinch their third consecutive boys state title with a convincing victory in the final event.

With Tampa Jesuit leading 210.5-210 going into the 400-yard freestyle relay, American Heritage’s Sebastian Vargas, Nico Medina, CJ Kopecki and Julien Pinon won in 3:09.08 finishing ahead of Tampa Jesuit in 3:14.21.

In one of the closest finishes, American Heritage finished with 250 points, 5.5 points ahead of Tampa Jesuit (244.5). Gulliver Prep was third with 185 points.

American Heritage boys trailed Tampa Jesuit by as many as 20 points during the meet but still managed to pull it off.

“I think they needed to check my blood pressure or heart monitor for me,” American Heritage coach Nobutaka Tan said.

“We knew after regions we were coming in down by three points. We knew it was going to be close. At the beginning of the season I talked to the kids and coaches and told them if we win it again it would be by less than 10 points.”

The Patriots set themselves up nicely in morning prelims.

“We had a lot of nice swims and a lot of kids in the top eight,” Nobu said. “It was a good kick start. We had a hiccup in the 200 relay and a few challenges came into it. We knew something had to be done. Our boys didn’t quit, I am really proud of them. This is the smallest team we have had at states. Tampa Jesuit had double that. I am glad we were able to capitalize on our opportunities.”

The Patriots were led by double winner Julien Pinon. Pinon, an Auburn-bound senior, won the 200-yard freestyle in 1:37.75 and 100-yard butterfly in 48.83, both automatic All-American times.

Farah was third in the 200-yard individual medley in 1:53.14 and eighth in the 100-yard backstroke in 53.58; Kopecki was third in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:37.45 and eighth in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:43.53 after going 1:42.64 in prelims; and Sebastian Vargas was third in the 100-yard butterfly in 51.94.

Farah was also a member of the Patriots’ second place 200-yard freestyle relay (1:26.68) and fourth-place 200-yard medley relay (1:38.40).

SOFLO’s Ervin Marin of Mater Lakes was third in the 100-yard breaststroke in 59.51 after going 59.48 in prelims and sixth in the 200-yard individual medley in 1:56.47 after going 1:55.56 in prelims; Ricardo Roche of Somerset was tenth in the 200-yard individual medley in 1:58.52 and 11th in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:46.19; Kevin Porto of Mater Lakes was 12th in the 500-yard freestyle in 4:47.28 and 16th in 1:48.68 in the 200-yard freestyle; Esteban Diaz Velasco of Somerset was 12th in the 100-yard backstroke in 53.87 and 17th in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:45.78.

SOFLO’s Elise Larin, a freshman at Somerset, swam a best time in the 100-yard breaststroke prelims in 1:07.89 and came back at night to finish in the final in 1:08.26. She shaved 1:05 off her previous best.

In the girls competition, Gulliver Prep built up a sizeable lead with three relay wins, double winners Kelly Fertel and Niki Urquidi and sweep of the 500-yard freestyle to finish by more than 200 points with 377. Panama City Arnold was runner-up with 166.

Unlike last year, Gulliver Prep had plenty of depth this time around.

“I feel real good about this team,” Gulliver Prep coach Jeff Poppell said. “What makes this year a little bit more special is this is the most complete team we have had. Last year we had holes. This year we were as strong as we could be in every event. We had someone in every final.”

Urquidi, a senior, won the 200-meter freestyle in 1:48.17 and 500-yard freestyle in 4:46.97, both automatic All-American times.

Fertel, also a senior, won the 200-yard individual medley in 2:01.20, an automatic All-American time and 100-yard breaststroke in 1:03.29, an All-American consideration time.

Eighth grader Andrea Santander, making her sate meet debut, was second in the 100-yard freestyle in 51.31, an All-American consideration time, and third in the 50-yard freestyle in 23.90.

“It’s been 3 ½ years of hard work,” Poppell said. “It’s definitely more satisfying this year. We had more girls come to the meet, young and old. We set the bar higher for ourselves this year.

“It was a lot of fun. We were motivated by school records and we wanted to see how we stacked up against all the other classes. We had a lot of young swimmers who made huge contributions and will be our leaders in future years. We want to sustain this and keep it going for a while. Both our girls and boys team are in a pretty good place.”

American Heritage girls, led by sprinter Catharine Cooper, finished fifth. “We have young girls coming up,” Nobu said. “Gulliver is a dynasty now and they will be tough to beat. Hopefully, we will find a way to challenge them in some way.”

Cardinal Gibbons junior Zach Allen defended his title in diving. For the second year in a row, Allen won the 1-meter springboard title with a school record 617.30 points, ninth highest score in state history. Teammate Hudson Coldren, a sophomore, was third in 438.60. Cape Coral junior Megan Galbreath won the girls diving title with 459.25 points.

The FHSAA State 3A and 4A meets are next weekend at the same venue.



1.Gulliver Prep 377, 2. Panama City Arnold 166, 3. tie, Jacksonville Stanton, Titusville 132, 5. American Heritage 110, 6. Gulf Breeze 104, 7. Tampa Holy Names 93, 8. Lincoln Park 92, 9. Eastside 89, 10. Mosley 72.


200-yard medley relay:

1.Gulliver Prep 1:45.55 (Emily Cordovi, Kelly Fertel, Brooke Ellis, Sarah Abril), 2. Arnold 1:49.08, 3. Lincoln Park 1:50.90.

200-yard freestyle:

1.Niki Urquidi, GP 1:48.17, 2. Ryley Ober, BYSH 1:50.93, 3. Taylor Ward, LOL 1:51.06.

200-yard individual medley:

1.Kelly Fertel, GP 2:01.20, 2. Mackenzie Stumpf, TSPR 2:02.84, 3. Brooke Ellis, GP 2:06.68.

50-yard freestyle:

1.Tori Bindi, GBRZ 23.52, 2. Catharine Cooper, AH 23.69, 3. Andrea Santander, GP 23.90.

100-yard butterfly:

1.Sherridon Dressel, CLAY 54.04, 2. Hannah Retherford, ARNO 55.82, 3. Emily Cordovi, GP 56.14.

100-yard freestyle:

1.Tori Bindi, GBRZ 50.38, 2. Andrea Santander, GP 51.31, 3. Amelia Talkington, MOSL 51.44.

500-yard freestyle:

1.Niki Urquidi, GP 4:46.97, 2. Alicia Mancilla, GP 4:53.22, 3. Namilla Sanchez, GP 4:56.23.

200-yard freestyle relay:

1.Gulliver Prep 1:36.59 (Emily Cordovi, Niki Urquidi, Sarah Abril, Andrea Santander), 2. Titusville 1:39.11, 3. Lincoln Park 1:39.55.

100-yard backstroke:

1.Sherridon Dressel, CLAY 54.90, 2. Hannah Retherford, ARNO 57.03, 3. Ryley Ober, BYSH 57.37.

100-yard breaststroke

1.Kelly Fertel, GP 1:03.29, 2. Mackenzie Stumpf, TSPR 1:04.26, 3. Francesca Vandersluis, SUN 1:05.92.

400-yard freestyle relay:

1.Gulliver Prep 3:28.23 (Andrea Santander, Niki Urquidi, Namilla Sanchez, Kelly Fertel), 2. Holy Names 3:34.63, 3. Arnold 3:36.83.

1-meter springboard diving:

1.Megan Galbreath, CCOR 459.25, 2. Journi Northorp, MANR 429.30, 3. Carolyn Ehrlich, PB 424.75.


1.American Heritage 250, 2. Tampa Jesuit 244.5, 3. Gulliver Prep 185, 4. Panama City Arnold 143, 5. Suncoast 108, 6. Titusville 107, 7. Clay 100.5, 8. Lincoln Park 92, 9. Fort Walton Beach 87, 10. Gulf Breeze 70.


200-yard medley relay:

1.Tampa Jesuit 1:36.01 (Byrne Litschgi, Chris Jenings, Matthew Dieffenthaller, Tommy Shaffer), 2. Arnold 1:37.45, 3. Gulliver Prep 1:38.29.

200-yard freestyle:

1.Julien Pinon, AH 1:37.75, 2. Miguel Cancel, GP 1:39.11, 3. Dakota Mahaffey, CLAY 1:40.01.

200-yard individual medley:

1.Daniel Orcutt, FWB 1:50.68, 2. Byrne Litschgi, JES 1:52.65, 3. Jonathan Farah, AH 1:53.14.

50-yard freestyle:

1.Manden Smith, GULF 21.13, 2. Anthony Davis, GBRZ 21.15, 3. Irvin Hoost, SBR 21.30.

100-yard butterfly:

1.Julien Pinon, AH 48.83, 2. Lucca Delcompare, LELY 50.46, 3. Sebastian Vargas, AH 51.94.

100-yard freestyle:

1.Tommy Shaffer, JES 46.42, 2. Manden Smith, GULF 46.81, 3. Anthony Davis, GBRZ 46.85.

500-yard freestyle:

1.Theodore Smith, BYSH 4:23.91, 2. Miguel Cancel, GP 4:24.35, 3. CJ Kopecki, AH 4:37.45.

200-yard freestyle relay:

1.Tampa Jesuit 1:26.37 (Byrne Litschgi, Will Sands, Sam Sands, Tommy Shaffer), 2. American Heritage 1:26.68, 3. Gulliver Prep 1:26.79.

100-yard backstroke:

1.Dakota Mahaffey, CLAY 48.73, 2. Byrne Litschgi, JES 50.73, 3. Conor Lynch, SLAK 51.79.

100-yard breaststroke:

1.Jabari Ramsey, LOL 57.07, 2. Logan Flitcraft, MOSL 58.83, 3. Ervin Marin, MAT 59.51.

400-yard freestyle relay:

1.American Heritage 3:09.08 (Sebastian Vargas, Nico Medina, CJ Kopecki, Julien Pinon), 2. Tampa Jesuit 3:14.21, 3. Gulliver Prep 3:14.58.

1-meter springboard diving:

1.Zach Allen, CG 617.30, 2. Jonathan Geraghty, LPK 497.45, 3. Hudson Coldren, CG 438.60.

Sharon Robb can be reached at

Author: South Florida Aquatic Club - SOFLO Swimming

Welcome to the South Florida Aquatic club, a premier community swim team dedicated to providing opportunity and encouragement to all team members, from the beginner to the seasoned Olympic athlete in their pursuit of excellence. The year-round development program for competitive swimming features life-enhancing qualities including integrity, discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship and health and fitness. We invite you to navigate the club’s portal for information about the team.

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