Can Pine Crest end Bolles’ run?

Girls team thinks they have shot

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Nfl High Schools -

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

(1991-2017).

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

200-free.

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

cham­pi­onship.

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

Broward Boys

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.

MICHAEL LAUGH­LIN/STAFF FILE PHOTO

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.

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