TAMPA — There were plenty of twists and turns along the way, but the end results wound up about as expected Thursday night at AHN Pool.
Plant’s girls team beat Academy of the Holy Names 100-83, while Jesuit topped the Panthers boys 99-81. The final scores weren’t quite as close as expected, but the competition was as solid as anticipated in a dual meet between two of the county’s top programs.
“There was give and take in all the events. Nothing goes as planned ever, but every time we’d give up something, we’d take it back in the next event,” Jesuit coach Bill Shaffer said. “When we needed a breakthrough, somebody did it.”
Shaffer pointed out a specific example in sophomore Will Jennings, who swam the third leg of the 200-yard freestyle relay with Chase Goodwin, Chris Swanson and John Simon — the team’s three best swimmers. Jennings proved to be more than capable, posting a 23.58 and helping the relay finish at 1:32.90.
“When I throw a nonswimmer on with those three studs,” Shaffer said, “you never know who’s going to step up: the nervous ones, or the ones who are going to accept the challenge.”
Plant coach Gil Gonzalez took a similarly unusual route only to find familiar results on the girls side. He tweaked his lineup, admittedly perhaps too much, but the Panthers still won nine of 12 events thanks to strong performances by their top swimmers.
Senior Haley Hahmann posted a 2:16.49 in the 200 IM and a 5:25.37 in the 500 free, both first-place finishes; sophomore Emily Clifford (1:00.74) came out on top in the 100 fly; and sophomore Emma Donahue (1:10.63) took first in the 100 breaststroke.
“They did their job,” Gonzalez said. “I’m real happy about where we are. We’ve got one big test left — we’ve got Newsome. If we go undefeated beating the Newsome girls, and even if we don’t, we know what’s important, and that’s districts and regionals.”