The Florida High School State Championship meets kicked off Thursday evening in Orlando with the Division II Championships. These are the mid-sized schools, and though perhaps the names of the schools are the least recognizable, this is Florida: it’s all fast.
The women of Tallahassee-Chiles took the girls team title in dominating fashion, scoring 304.5 points to Riviera Beach-Suncoast’s 161 for runner-up honors. On the men’s side, Miami-based Belen Jesuit Prep won a slightly tighter battle ahead of Mosley High in Lynn Haven and Gainesville High School near the University of Florida.
1. Chiles (Tallahassee) 304.5
2. Suncoast (Riviera Beach) 161
3. Martin County (Stuart) 151
4. Holy Names (Tampa) 142.5
5. Gulf Coast (Naples) 140
1. Belen Jesuit Prep (Miami) 221
2. Mosley (Lynn Haven) 151
3. Gainesville 145
4. Barron Collier (Naples) 113
5. Fort Myers 102
The boys of Belen Jesuit were led by their senior star Julian Ballestas. He is going to be a Michigan Wolverine next season (the same mascot as Belen Jesuit’s), and really upped his recruiting value for Mike Bottom at this meet. He won the 200 free in 1:38.10 and placed 2nd in the 100 in 45.08. In that 100, he lost only to Caeleb Dressel, who trains with Bolles but swims for Clay High School, who won in 44.10. That nearly broke a 20-year old State Record in the event, just missing the 44.04 set by Ricardo Busquets in 1991.
Dressel also won the 100 back in 50.08. He should be a top-20 recruit in next fall’s senior class.
In what became a much tighter battle for 2nd place, Mosley High School was led by senior Michael Duderstadt past Gainesville. Duderstadt, as we shared when he committed yesterday, is relatively new to serious swimming, and came into this meet with a good, but not all-that-special, 57 in the 100 breaststroke.
We also relayed, though, that a breakout was possible, and that’s exactly what happened. He swam a 55.08 to win the 100 breaststroke ahead of Devin McCaffrey from Mitchell (56.08). Earlier in the meet, Duderstadt had an even more significant swim to win the 200 IM in 1:50.01 – there swinging some serious points away from Gainesville runner-up Ben Borgert, who was 1:51.37 (a best time for him by three seconds as well).
Other standouts from the meet include Gainesville-Eastside’s Wesley Olmsted. He trains club with cross-town rival Borgert, and though neither of them is all that big, they get a lot of power out of smaller frames. They both actually swim for High Tide Aquatics: the other team in Gainesville that is beginning to make a name for itself.
Olmsted won the 50 free in 20.73 and was runner-up in the 100 fly in 49.07 (behind only a 48.86 from the aforementioned McCaffrey). Those are both solid drops last season, and should move him up into the next echelon of schools vying for his services in college.
The other individual winner on the day was Logan Samuelson from Fort Myers, who swam a 4:25.33 in the 500. He was just able to hold off a furious last-50 comeback from Lance Rutkin, who made up a second-and-a-half coming home, but wound up four-tenths short in 4:25.78.
In relay action, Mosley got the meet off to a great start in the 200 medley thanks mostly to a phenomenal 25.0 breaststroke split from Duderstadt. He was able to erase a two-second deficit by teammate Michael Whitehead to Gainesville and Borgert after the backstroke leg, and then his underclassmen teammates Jonathan Ratliff and Casey Pridgen held on to win.
Belen Jesuit was only 3rd in that meet-opening event, though they were only .01 seconds behind Gainesville even while focusing their top swimmer Ballestas on the free relays. Thanks to his leadoff in the 200 of 21.01, the Wolverines won the 200 free relay with a senior-heavy group of four that included Evan Banciela on the 3rd leg and Tommy Avallone anchoring. The lone returning swimmer from that group is sophomore Ryan Guso, though, and he leaves the relays with a solid star for next season: he was a 21.5 on the second leg handing off from Ballestas.
Dressel led off Clay’s 6th-place relay in 20.52, and also swam a 21.7 in prelims on his team’s 200 medley relay that was 10th after the morning, but with him sitting out finals slipped to 16th.
Ballestas would then anchor a group of Juan Perez-Costa,Jose Alvarez, and Guso with a 44.8 to carry them to a win in the 400 free relay in 3:09.69. He hit the water with a body-length deficit to Gainesville, but had almost made that up by the time he hit his first turn.
Chiles High School got off to a fast start in the girls’ events, winning the first two races. That included the 200 medley relay in 1:46.96 with a group of Cece Williams, Lia Lombardi, Alyssa Yambor-Maul (splitting 25.4 on the fly leg), and Delaney Bernard. Though this team’s real strength is that they’re clearly the best top-to-bottom at this meet, those were the names who really shone for them throughout the day’s competition.
Williams would come back just minutes later in the second event, the 200 free, and knock a second-and-a-half off her best time to fo a 1:47.54 for the win. That should put her among the top-10 200 freestylers in the senior class of 2014.
In the 200, she out-raced Olympic Trials finalist Danielle Valley, who was 2nd in 1:48.97. Valley is more distance-oriented (foreshadowing), but for the purposes of high school and college swimming, she’ll need to keep working on this 200 free to maximize value for the Florida Gators for whom she’ll swim next fall.
Next, however, Chiles relied on the spirit of their namesakes, the Wolf Pack, to just put tons of swimmers into the A-final to begin to pull away in the team scoring. In the 200 IM, Columbia High School sophomore Hannah Burns took the state title after placing 2nd last season: this year posting a 2:00.82 for All-American honors and three seconds better than she was at last year’s State Championship meet. But Chiles won the scoring battle in the race with Lombardi touching 3rd and Lauren Peavy taking 4th.
After a great IM for Burns, she again had another personal best in the 100 breaststroke to drop her time to 1:04.12. There, though, Bolles club-swimmer Meghan Haila (1:02.95) kept Burns from defending her State Championship. Haila, a junior, has made monstrous improvements in the last year, though it would appear based on times in 2011 that she might have been a bit muddled in her taper with three big meets in a month. This year, though, she seems locked-in with a full-second drop.
Next up, the meet became the Victoria Bindi show. The freshman was the only individual female qualifier from Gulf Breeze High School in the Pensacola area, but that didn’t stop her for making a name for herself in Florida High School swimming.
She made a statement with a 23.39 in the 50 free that she followed with a 50.81 in the 100 free. Sprinters who are this good, this young can swing all-over-the-map as they mature (they can continue to drop, they can stay the same, and some will even get slower), but the 14-year old Bindi looks good so far coming off of some impressive junior high results. Her 100, for example, was a best time by half-a-second in her first meet on this awkward Florida fall-taper schedule.
In between Bindi’s wins, Chiles got back on the board thanks to a 55.21 from Yambor-Maul in the 100 fly. She’s going to be a Florida Gator next year, and a sprint butterflier is just what that team needs. She was also 3rd in the 100 back in 56.83 (Florida doesn’t have a big need for a sprint backstroker), but a 52.09 on Chiles’ 400 free relay was good to see. With that much speed in the 50 and 100 flys, she should be improving her sprint freestyles as well, and it seems as though she is.
As alluded to earlier, Danielle Valley is more in her zone as she moves into the longer events. The future Florida Gator (yep, another one from this meet), now swimming for Lakewood Ranch, repeated as the State Champion in the 500 with – ger this – a 4:40.97.
That’s already as fast as anybody on Florida’s team went last season, and Valley has given no indication that she’s slowing down (that’s three seconds better than she was to win last year’s title). She became one of our favorite swimmers after watching her prelims 800 at Trials, and she continues to ride her own wave toward bigger-and-bigger swims.
She also got a bit of revenge in that swims, as she blew away from 200 free champion Williams, not surprisingly, around the 200 yard mark. Williams was 2nd in 4:48.07.
The girls from Martin County had their best performance of the meet in the 200 free relay, where they won in 1:37.48. The team is without a real superstar, but when you can leadoff with a trio of 24-high’s in high school, and anchor with a clutch 23.2 from senior Macey Arnold, that’s a relay that’s going to be hard to beat. Arnold made up nearly a second gap to give her team (Hanna Burdge, Aubrey Murray, and Sara Lacusky) a .02 second victory ahead of Holy Names – with whom they ended up in quite a team fight for 3rd overall.
Arnold may have found out too late that she is actually a sprinter – her individual swims were the 200 and 500 freestyles, but she could have been top 2-3 in the 50 with that speed.
Gulf Coast sophomore Elise Haan wow’ed the crowd with a 54.43 win in the 100 back, earning an All-American honor for herself and is now a perfect two-for-two at the State Championship meet in this event. She came down very quickly on her taper, having just last week swum 56.6 to win the Regional Championship. She’s a member of Paul Yetter’s T2 Aquatics Club in Naples, former home of Liz Pelton. That’s encouraging for Haan’s future.
And finally, Chiles closed the meet with a big win, like any championship team wants to, taking the 400 free relay in 3:29.71. Williams led off in 51,30, followed by Yambor-Maul (52.1), Lombardi (54.4) and an anchor from Delaney Barnard in 51.9. That bettered another good sprint relay performance from Martin County, including a 51.5 anchor from their leader and senior Arnold.