Wrapping up the biggest weekend of high school swimming in the fall semester, the women of Bolles bettered St. Andrew’s to take the Florida Girls State Championship in Class 1A: generally the smallest 1/3 of schools in the state: almost exclusively private schools with roughly 1,000 students in their high school (or “upper school”) enrollments.
The Bolles girls broke a record at this meet as well: a bit of a different record than their men were setting race-after-race, though. The Bulldogs girls won their 22nd-straight girls’ State Championship, which just sneaks past the old record held by the Pine Crest girls from ’56 to ’76.
But it was the runners-up from St. Andrews, who are having a spectacular season of their own, that kicked the meet off by winning the 200 medley relay. There, senior Texas commit Tasija Karosas led the relay off in 25.78, and they never looked back en route to a 1:42.77: missing the 2008 State Record by just about four-tenths of a second. The other three members of the relay were Rachael Bradford-Feldman, Megan Moroney, and Brenna Ruth.
Bolles took 2nd in 1:43.65, and that was the same 1-2 finish order of the next event: the girls’ 200 individual freestyle. There, it was the sophomore Moroney who picked up a 2nd gold medal already with a 1:48.02. She and Bolles’ Jessica Hodgson were about even throughout the race, with the notable exception that Moroney went out a few tenths harder and held the lead throughout.
All together, though, Bolles moved into the team lead after that event thanks to three swimmers in the A-Final (Claire Rasmus, 3rd, 1:49.10; Genevieve Miller, 8th, 1:50.88).
St. Andrews’ winning streak continued into the 200 IM, though this time it was by a 1-2 finish. The sophomore Bradford-Feldman upset her teammate Karosas by final tally of 2:00.40-2:01.38. Karosas took a big lead on the front half of this race, where she’s so good, but Bradford-Feldman the breaststroker came nearly even, and seemed to have quite a bit of energy left to finish off for a margin of victory that belies how tight this battle was.
Texas commit Smacker Miles was the top-finishing Bolles swimmer in 7th in 2:04.79. She’s going back from a bad shoulder injury over the summer, so to get back near her best time (two seconds short) is an impressive return for only a few months in training.
The limited depth that plagues every team at this 1A level not named Bolles finally caught up to St. Andrews in the women’s 50 free. They didn’t actually have an entry there, but Bolles sophomore Kasey Schmidt swam a 23.09 to give them their first win of the meet. Young female sophomore sprinters are always the hardest to predict if they’re tapped-out or not, but that is a best time by four-tenths of a second, so she seems to still be improving.
The top four in that race were all actually sophomores-or-younger, setting up some good seasons of sprint action in the state of Florida. Runner-up honors went to Westminster Academy’s Caroline Nava (23.62), followed by freshman Brooke Ferrera (23.69).
We don’t usually focus much on diving (though we like to acknowledge it when it’s really good), but this 1-meter final can’t be overlooked. Pine Crest’s Carolyn Chaney gave her team their only individual win of the meet with a big score of 481.35, but not too far behind her in 5th place was 6th-grader Grayson Kim in 428.20. In Florida, junior high athletes are allowed to compete at the high school level in certain circumstances, and Kim took advantage of that to score enough points to push Lake Highland Prep into the top 5.
Megan Moroney put St. Andrew’s back on the winning rack with her second win, this one coming in the 100 fly in 54.46. The sophomore again put a big hurt into her own personal best with that time and is the second-fastest 15-year old in the country this season.
Bolles got their second event win thanks to Claire Rasmus in the girls’ 100 free. She won in 50.49 to outpace a pair of Bishop Kenney veterans in junior McKenna Debever (50.85) and Lydia Ware (51.06).
A second Bolles swimmer, Jessica Hodgson, won the B-Final in 50.95.
As mentioned in our 3A recap, St.Stephens’ Ellen Berdusco won the girls’ 500 free in 4:47.17. That makes the winners of each of the three girls’ 500 freestyles representatives of the same Sarasota YMCA club team. She beat-out a good finish from Bolles’ Genevieve Miller to take this win: Miller’s best events are the longer distances, so her sub-28 second closing 50 was no surprise, but there just wasn’t quite enough room for her to catch up.
At the other end of the spectrum from their first winner at this meet, Pine Crest’s second set of champions in the 200 free relay had three seniors and a junior. Their 200 free relay put up 1:36.38 with a group of Kaelah Chaney, Casey Francis, Hannah Veale, and Brittany Hammond getting their first golds of the meet.
If you’re looking for the potential champions of this relay for the next four years, turn toward Lake Highland Prep. They took 2nd in 1:37.77 with one each of a 7th grader, 8th grader, 9th grader, and 10th grader. That included a 24.56 leadoff from Abby Burke, the youngest of those four.
Last season, St. Andrew’s won this relay with four underclassmen, but this year they put two freshman on this relay to swim to 5th as they saved most of their big-guns for the longer 400 free relay.
Tasija Karosas might have been clipped in the 200 IM, but there was no chance that she was going to be upset in this 100 back. She swam a 53.62 in this race to win by more than 1.5 seconds and break the State Record. That’s a record that was previously held by All-American Aubrey Peacock from 2009 in 53.82 (Peacock was a Bolles swimmer).
Clara Smiddy, of the famous Smiddy swimming clan (there are 6 altogether, with older brother Sam winning a pair of 3A state titles the day before), took 2nd here in 55.31. She and sister Rose swim for a unique team known as the “HEAT,” that is designed for home schooled students in South Florida. They score as a team and even assemble relays from a wide-reaching area.
In the 100 breaststroke, the last individual event of the meet, Bethany Leap took a win in 1:02.61 with a hard-charging second-half of this race. She and Rachael Bradford-Feldman both put up All-American Automatic Qualifying times, as the St. Andrew’s swimmer put up a 1:03.51 for 2nd-place.
By the time the final relay came around, despite St. Andrews’ 5 wins to that point of the meet, the team battle was out-of-reach. There were still big bragging rights to be had though, as St. Andrews’ best went against Bolles’ best, with both teams setting sights on a State Record that was just one year old.
In the end, both relays went under American Heritage’s 2:23.94 from last year, but it was St. Andrews, with the same foursome that won the earlier relay and the best foursome in the state, who got the win in 3:23.43. That group was Karosas, Ruth, Bradford-Feldman, and Moroney. Moroney anchored in 49.87 to pull himself ahead of Bolles’ anchor, and sophomore, Siwan Thomas-Howells (who was also very good in 50.21).
Bolles’ 2nd-place time was 3:23.72.
Top 5 teams below:
1. Bolles (Jacksonville) 408.5
2. Saint Andrew’s (Boca Raton) 251.5
3. Pine Crest (Fort Lauderdale) 245
4. Ransom Everglades 134
5. Lake Highland Prep (Orlando) 115