Twin cham­pi­onships the goal Oviedo’s chas­ing

Orlando Sentinel - - COLLEGE FOOTBALL - By Mike Gra­majo

The way Oviedo swim coach Char­lie Rose sees it, there’s no rea­son to talk about win­ning cham­pi­onships in Fri­day’s FHSAA Class 4A state meet in Stu­art.

Talk­ing softly while train­ing hard sounds more like a win­ning for­mula to the 26-year Lions coach.

“We re­ally don’t talk about win­ning the state cham­pi­onship. We re­ally don’t,” Rose said be­fore Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice at the Oviedo Aquatic Cen­ter. “We know it’s there. What we have to do, hope­fully, in­di­vid­u­ally, ev­ery­body goes in and do the best they can do, do their part. If that hap­pens, then the po­ten­tial is there for us to win it. We know that.”

There wasn’t a whole lot said about the Oviedo boys team last year un­til the Lions emerged as the sur­prise 4A cham­pi­ons at the Sail­fish Splash Wa­ter­park and Aquat­ics Cen­ter. That was the first swimming and div­ing state cham­pi­onship in pro­gram his­tory and has fu­eled the hunger for more suc­cess.

The Oviedo boys hope to re­peat. And the school’s girls aim to make their own his­tory by win­ning their first state ti­tle af­ter fin­ish­ing run­ner-up by a slim mar­gin to Gainesvill­e Buch­holz last sea­son.

The last time an Or­lando-area school won boys and girls swim cham­pi­onships in the same year was Dr. Phillips in 1995.

Rose ex­pects stiff com­pe­ti­tion from a hand­ful of teams, in­clud­ing Semi­nole County ri­vals Lake

Brant­ley and Semi­nole.

In 2018, Oviedo, Semi­nole and Lake Brant­ley fin­ished 1-2-3 in that or­der in the boys stand­ings. That marked the first time a state cham­pi­onship was won by an area boys team since 1998 (Win­ter Park), and the first 1-2-3 swim sweep for Central Florida since 1998, when Win­ter Park, Lake Brant­ley and Dr. Phillips claimed the top three places in the boys stand­ings.

Stay­ing to­gether through the ups and downs of a long day of com­pe­ti­tion that in­cludes pre­lim races and fi­nals is cru­cial, Rose said.

“If they sup­port each other and come to­gether, that’s the most that I can ask for,” said Rose. “We’ve done ev­ery­thing we can to get to this point. The key is sup­port. We’re go­ing to face ad­ver­sity, but so are the other swim­mers. It might be rain­ing. It might be cold. But if we use that team ex­cite­ment to feed in­di­vid­ual good swims, that’s the key.”

Lions se­nior Ma­son Her­bet said his squad needs to fo­cus on each race, not on the team stand­ings, just as it did a year ago.

“We set the bar last year with win­ning states,” said Her­bet, an FSU com­mit. “We don’t al­ways want to think about that. We want to make sure we’re go­ing fast and not get lost in the points, be­cause it could take us away from the states.”

Se­nior Abi­gail Gibbons, who re­cently com­mit­ted to Auburn, said her girls swim and dive team is poised to come out on top.

“This year, we all have worked a lot harder to be­come close as a team,” she said. “We’re all fast kids, we’ve all been good at some­thing, but you can’t do any­thing if you don’t be­lieve in the team.”

“So it’s some­thing we worked for. We want it more than ever now, es­pe­cially that we watched the boys get first place last year and girls got run­ner-up.”

An Oviedo girls vic­tory would mark the first FHSAA fe­male swim team ti­tle for a Sen­tinel cov­er­age area school in 16 years.

Lake Brant­ley came out on top in 2003.

Gibbons’ twin brother, Ryan, also will com­pete Fri­day as a mem­ber of the boys team.

“I think from our suc­cess at dis­tricts and re­gions and the state se­ries go­ing on, it’s re­ally im­proved our con­fi­dence go­ing into states,” Her­bet said. “We def­i­nitely feel good go­ing in there. What’s more im­por­tant is that we carry that con­fi­dence and mo­men­tum into states and do as well as we can.”

STEPHEN M. DOW­ELL/OR­LANDO SEN­TINEL

Oviedo’s Tyler Han­ley swims dur­ing a swim meet at Lake Brant­ley in Al­ta­monte Springs in Oc­to­ber.

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