Can Pine Crest end Bolles’ run?
Girls team thinks they have shot
It has gotten to a point where Jacksonville Bolles winning the state girls swimming title seems as clockwork as a sunrise, with the Bulldogs having won the event 27 years in a row
Even with that in mind, however, a mature and talented Pine Crest — who in
1990 was the last school to win a title other than the Jacksonville juggernaut -likes its chances to give Bolles a run for its money this season.
The Panthers were just shy of Bolles in the girls’ Class 1A state championship in 2016, getting tipped
270-260, and then put on another solid runner-up performance last year.
"We've been getting really close to [Jacksonville] Bolles. They seem to be phenomenal almost every single year, and just as we get a little closer, they seem to reload," said coach Mariusz Podkoscielny. "It's hard to determine where they're at right now, but I can tell you I expect us to challenge them for the title this season."
Their senior core will be comprised of Hannah Virgin, Alexandra Meszaros and Ishani Singh.
Virgin placed second in the 100-yard breaststroke
(1:04.32) during the state meet and had an All-American consideration time in the preliminaries (1:03.89). Meszaros excelled as the anchor leg in the 400-free relay while also showcasing her skills in the 100-fly and
The boys finished fourth in the state championship (as Bolles won its 30th straight boys title) and were driven by Kevin Mendez and several other state qualifiers. Mendez, now a freshman, is a two-time state diving champion and had a personal-best score of 537 at states in the 1-meter dive.
Saint Andrew’s, led by seniors Izaak Bastian, Jesse Marsh and Sam Gibson, finished 48 points back of the Bulldogs.
With their dynamic trio having graduated, seniors Tomas Piza and Joshua Balbi are expected to lead the way.
Piza had top-10 finishes in two events during the
2017 state championship,
while Balbi was part of the boys’ 200-yard medley relay team that placed second in states with a 1:31.86 time.
Sophomore Tiago Pereira is primed to continue his success from a year ago and will be the anchor for the team’s 200-yard medley relay.
King's Academy had their best season from a team perspective last year as the Lions were led by eighthgrader Joshua Zuchowski.
“In order for us to be more successful this year than last, we need Joshua [Zuchowski] to continue to get better and do a little bit more of what he did last year, now as a freshman,” said his father and coach, Jonathan Zuchowski.
Last season, Joshua Zuchowski broke five national records for his club team and even finished third at states in the 100-back
(50.70). Jonathan Zuchowski acknowledged that now as a freshman, Joshua potentially has the ability to receive an Olympic trial cut in the 200-meter backstroke.
Westminster Academy is expected to undergo a rebuilding period this season as each of its teams must replace its best swimmer from a season ago.
Former girls team captain and five-time state champion Jessica Nava graduated from the program last year and will leave a hole on a team that placed
10th in the state championship. Nava was the 2017 Sun Sentinel Broward County Girls Swimmer of the Year and set a state record in the 100-yard butterfly for the third consecutive year at the Class 1A
The loss of Chase Perry will be another challenge for the Lions as the former senior was a catalyst for the boys’ team by winning the
50-free at districts to help them place second.
Similar to Westminster Academy, American Heritage is considered to be adjusting from the graduation of their top swimmers.
The Patriots lost both of their teams’ captains from last season in Nicholas Pacitti and Catharine Cooper and must try to fill those open leadership roles.
Pacitti placed second in the 500-yard freestyle
(4:34.05) during the Class
2A state championship and was a five-time state qualifier in the 200-free. Cooper graduated from the program as a two-time state champion and placed third in the 100-free during the past Class 2A championship meet.
Coach Nobutaka Tan is optimistic that the emergence of Daniel Escobar and Thea McKenna will help compensate for the loss on both sides.
Other swimmers to watch
Kevin De Grijze, Fort Lauderdale; Jacob Silberman, Pine Crest; Elvis Kotikovski, Pine Crest; Matthew Petreski, Pine Crest; Nicholas Vale, Pine Crest; Ricardo Roche, Pembroke Pines Charter; Mattheus Santos, Pompano Beach; Kalvin Hernandez, St. Thomas Aquinas. Broward Girls Savannah Yates, Cardinal Gibbons; Kathleen Golding, Cooper City; Paige Lane, Cypress Bay; Andrea Santander,
Pine Crest; Emily Weiss, Pine Crest; Esther Lin, Pine Crest; Rachel Botting, Pine Crest; Maia Goldstein, University School; Jacqueline Nava, Westminster Academy; JoJo Richter, Westminster Academy. Palm Beach Boys Cameron Taddonio, Boca Raton; Pace Edwards, King’s Academy; Riley Taylor, King’s Academy; Will Lefebvre, Jupiter; Tyler Coffey, Jupiter; Caleb Petranchuk, Jupiter; Drake Gil, Spanish River.
Palm Beach Girls
Paige MacEachern, Boca Raton; Anna Auld, Forest Hill; Megan Murphy, Forest Hill; Erica Wesch, Jupiter; Brooke Engstrom, King’s Academy; Rachel Clancy, King’s Academy; Marin Zuchowski, King’s Academy; Jen Secrest, Oxbridge Academy; Emily Trieschmann, Saint Andrew’s; Shayna Fetes, Saint Andrew’s; Sydney Torres, Saint Andrew’s; Gabby Beltrano, Saint Andrew’s; Lucy Miller, Saint Andrew’s; Chade Nersicio, Trinity Christian; Eriana Temperino, Trinity Christian.
Alexandra Meszaros is one of the core group of strong swimmers returning for Pine Crest, which will be trying to stop Jacksonville Bolles’ 27-year state title run.