PALM HARBOR — Despite graduating a good portion of its boys lineup from last year, Countryside believed it had enough star power to keep the score close in its annual dual meet with Palm Harbor University to close out the regular season.
Part of that optimism stemmed from some holdovers and the addition of Matt Ellis, a transfer from Texas who was coming off a stellar week in which he won two individual titles (50 free, 100 fly) at the Florida Swimming Pool Association meet in Orlando.
But as the Cougars have often discovered in this rivalry, the Hurricanes have elite swimmers, too.
The only difference is Palm Harbor University has more.
The Hurricanes’ depth again proved to be the difference Wednesday as they beat Countryside for the sixth straight year, 113-63. The victory helped the Hurricanes’ maintain their undefeated regular-season dual meet streak.
“We have a lot of really strong upper-end swimmers,” Cougars coach Ian O’Neil said. “But our team is half the size of Palm Harbor’s.”
Ellis did his part, winning the 200 free (1:46.88), 50 free (21.89) and swimming the anchor leg on the first-place 400 free relay (3:36.45). Trouble was, those were the only events Countryside won.
The Hurricanes’ David Morgan won the 200 individual medley (2:03.09) and the 100 breast (1:03.73). Teammate Zach Perotti also was a two-time champion, taking first in the 100 fly (53.91) and 100 back (57.78).
“We have real strong numbers with the boys,” Palm Harbor University coach Lisa Bitting said. “It’s not just the winners, but the 3-4-5 swimmers who help us score points and pull through.”
In the girls competition, the Hurricanes also came out on top, beating Countryside for the third straight year, 113-74.
The Cougars’ Courtney Grace was the girls swimmer to win multiple events, taking first in the 50 free (25.13) and 100 back (1:03.71). Palm Harbor University’s Abbey King won the 200 free (1:59.34) and finished second in the 500 free (5:14.81).