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State swimming: Tampa Prep’s Rasmus Skjaerpe closes out career with gold

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Sat. November 9, 2013 | Kelly Parsons

State swimming: Tampa Prep’s Rasmus Skjaerpe closes out career with gold

STUART — Rasmus Skjaerpe flicked off his fur-lined slippers and shed his long, black warmup coat. When he took the starting block for the 400-yard freestyle relay, the Tampa Prep senior scanned the crowd for his mother, Unni — as he does before every race — and gave her a thumbs up.

The pre-event routine was the same for Skjaerpe, who competed in his fifth Class A state championship swim meet Friday at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center.

But this time, it wasn’t just another start for the Terrapins. It was his last.

In the final meet of his high school career, Skjaerpe was one of just four swimmers to become a state titlist in multiple individual events. Skjaerpe won gold medals in the 200 individual medley (1:48.64) and the 100 backstroke (48.59). Both relays (200 medley, 400 free) on which he competed finished fifth.

“After my 100 back, it kind of hit me that I only had one more event left in high school,” he said. “After my 100 free, I kind of just threw my goggles, and I was done.”

Skjaerpe’s big night fueled Tampa Prep to a fifth-place overall finish on the boys side, which coach Jason Bowes said he thinks is the highest ever for the Terrapins.

Clearwater Central Catholic’s Matthew Hirschberger (500 free), and Shorecrest’s John Farese (100 backstroke, 100 free) and Joshua Chen (100 breast) also took spots on the podium to lead the Chargers and Marauders to sixth- and ninth-place finishes, respectively. CCC’s boys’ 200 free relay took third place, while the Shorecrest boys’ 200 medley relay took second.

For the girls, the Terrapins had the best finish of Tampa Bay area teams, coming in 12th due in large part to a pair of top-eight  performances from Savannah Savitt (100 breast, 100 IM).

There was a lot going on at a meet that brought 161 swimmers from all over the state to one pool. But when Skjaerpe was in the water, his finishes drew attention.

Skjaerpe, or “Moose,” as his teammates call him, won the 200 IM by more than three seconds. In the 100 back, he finished more than a second faster than second-place Farese.

A titlist in the 200 free last year, Skjaerpe made it his goal to leave his final state championship meet with not just one gold medal, but two. The moment he met Bowes, his coach of six years, after his victory in the backstroke, they shared the same thought.

“He came up after his race to me,” Bowes said, “and we said at the same time, ‘two for two.’ ”

The awards presentation for the 400 free relay, Skjaerpe’s final event, was going on behind him at the podium, but he paid it no mind. Instead, the Arizona commit posed for pictures with Bowes, his double hardware hanging from his neck and the flag of Norway, where Skjaerpe began swimming as an 8-year-old, draped around him.

Unni Skjaerpe admitted that seeing her son’s final thumbs up as a Terrapin made her emotional. Still, she’s sure it’s not the last signal she’s seen from him.

“Even if he makes the Olympics sometime, he will do that, even there,” she said, laughing.

Like so many he swam against Friday, Skjaerpe still has years of competitive swimming ahead of him at the next level. Skjaerpe’s future may be bright, but as Unni Skjaerpe watched him soak in the last of his high school glory, she could only think about his present.

“Today was like the victory of all,” she said.

4A-2: PHU sweeps region team titles
The Palm Harbor University boys continued their domination at region meets, winning their 10th straight team title by outscoring Sarasota Riverview 343-248 at Friday’s Class 4A, Region 2 meet in Winter Haven.

The Hurricanes have won every boys region title since the Florida High School Athletic Association went to that format in 2004.

But it was PHU’s girls team that opened some eyes by beating three-time defending state champion Sarasota Riverview 316-296 for the Hurricanes’  third straight region title. It was sweet redemption for the Hurricanes, who had their seven-year reign as a district champion end with a loss to the Rams at the district meet.

Tristan Sanders led PHU’s boys, finishing first in the 100 back (49.62) and swimming opening legs on the winning 200 medley (1:36.11) and 400 free (3:09.52).

The county had two boys who were champions in multiple events — Seminole’s Stefan Spiric in the 50 free (21.13) and 100 free (46.25), and East Lake’s Grant Sanders in the 200 individual medley (1:53.98) and 500 free (4:33.25). Countryside took first in the 200 free relay (1:27.61) and was second in the 400 free relay (3:12.20)

On the girls side, the Hurricanes’ Kendall McIntosh won the 50 free (24.22) and Morgan Perrotti took first in the 100 fly (57.74). East Lake’s Alexandra Aitchison won the 200 free (1:48.71) and 500 free (4:50.57) and was the anchor on the winning 400 free relay (3:33.70).

4A-2: Newsome, Plant take individual titles
Newsome’s girls were fifth at the Class 4A, Region 2 swim meet at Rowdy Gaines Pool in Winter Haven on Friday, the highest finish by a Hillsborough County team.

The Wolves’ were led by Madeline Hess, who won the 100 free (51.69) and 100 back (58.36), and teamed with Sarah Neely, Lauren Harper and Allison Greenwood on the winning 200 free relay (1:38.22). Allyson Nied was Newsome’s other champion, taking first in diving with 404.10 points.

Plant’s girls were sixth overall. Alexandria Donahue was the Panthers’ biggest point scorer, finishing second in the 100 breast (1:06.13) and teaming with Carter Flynn, Martha Pointer and Sarah Rossi on the winning 200 medley relay in 1:49.76.

Plant’s boys were sixth. The Panthers had two champions — Kyle Kimura in the 200 free (1:42.74) and Max Jenkins in diving (401.65 points).

3A-2: Wiregrass, Mitchell win events
The North Suncoast crowned three individual champions at the Class 3A, Region 2 meet at Rowdy Gaines Pool in Winter Haven on Friday.

Wiregrass Ranch junior Athena Cimino (24.54) won the girls 50 free and was third in the 100 free (53.95). Fellow Bull Maddy Conway also placed first in the 100 back (1:00.67), and the sophomore was the runnerup in the 100 fly (1:00.12).

For the boys, Mitchell sophomore Kevin Smith rounded out the local champions with his victory in the 100 back (56.56). He was also fourth in the 100 fly.

Other notable top-three finishes: Wiregrass’ Matt Menendez (second in 200 free; third in 100 fly), Mitchell’s Taylor Anderson (third, 50 free), Wiregrass girls 400 free relay (third) and boys 200 medley relay (third).

State swimming
Girls
Team results: 
1. Jacksonville Bolles 410.5 2. Boca Raton Saint Andrew’s 233 3. Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest 222.5 4. Miami Ransom Everglades 165   5. Winter Park Trinity Prep  155.5   6. Westminster Academy 140 7. Orlando Lake Highland Prep 123.5 8. University School 105 9. Montverde 95  10. South Florida Heat 91 11. Hobe Sound Pine School 84  12. Tampa Prep 73 13. Berkeley Prep 67 14. Bradenton St. Stephen’s (Bradenton) 48; 15. Clearwater Central Catholic 38
Individual results:  Diving — 1 Chaney (PC) 516.50, 7 Punzak (BP) 370.10, 15 Potts (BP) 301.50, 20 Dumar (BP) 205.90, 21 Stambo (BP) 128.65; 200 medley relay — 1 Ransom Everglades (Morgan, A. Valls, K. Valls, Kalandiak; 200 free — 1 Moroney (SA) 1:46.51; 200 IM — 1 Smiddy (SFH) 1:58.39, 5 Savitt (TP) 2:05.75; 50 free — 1 Schmidt (Bol) 22.66; 100 fly —  1 Moroney (SA) 54.39, 4 Spilman (CCC) 56.09; 100 free — 1 Ciesla (PC) 50.42; 500 free — 1 Duggan (LHP) 4:47.37; 200 free relay — 1 Bolles (Schmidt, Rasmus, Gvakharia,  Hodgson) 1:32.74, 8 Berkeley Prep (Chancey, Harrison, Vergara, Horan)  1:40.81; 100 back — 1 Smiddy (SFH) 52.46; 100 breast — 1 Kopas (Uni) 1:01.92, 6 Savitt (TP) 1:04.83, 7 Stumpf (CCC) 1:05.34; 400 free relay — 1 Bolles (Schmidt, Rasmus, Gvakharia,  Hodgson) 3:23.70, 8 Tampa Prep (Savitt, Waite, Brown, Fredlake) 3:36.24.
Boys
Team results:
1. Jacksonville Bolles 2. Orlando Lake Highland Prep 232, 3. Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest 171.5 4. University School 143 5. Tampa Prep 128 6. Shorecrest Prep 124 7. Boca Raton Saint Andrew’s 118.5 8. Winter Park Trinity Prep 86 9. Clearwater Central Catholic 71 9. Key Biscayne Mast (Key Biscayne) 71 11. Jacksonville Episcopal 62 12. Berkeley Prep 61 13. Sarasota Cardinal Mooney 54 14. Naples  Community School 48 15. Jacksonville Providence
Individual results: Diving — 1 Fields (PC) 446.05, 9 Rapp (BP) 339.90, 10 Potts (BP) 326.10,  15 Rauft-Lomano (BP) 273.70, 16 Munger (BP) 271.45, 17 Takemoto (TP) 200.95; 200 medley relay — 1 Bolles (Booth, Daugherty, Schooling, McKinney) 1:28.93, 2 Shorecrest (Farese, Chen, Grant, Marshburn) 1:34.41, 5 Tampa Prep (Cates, Skjaerpe, Campo, Sedano-Roman) 1:36.42; 200 free —  1 Booth (Bol) 1:38.46, 7 Hirschberger (CCC) 1:41.74; 200 IM — 1 Skjaerpe (TP) 1:48.64, 8 Chen (Sho) 1:56.56; 50 free —  1 Groters (Uni) 20.69; 100 fly —  1 Schooling, (Bol) 45.52, 8 Campo (TP) 51.89; 100 free  —  1 Georgiadis (Bol) 45.54, 3 Farese (Sho) 46.31; 500 free — 1 Haeffner (PC) 4:25.75; 2 Hirschberger (CCC) 4:27.39; 200 free relay — 1 Bolles (Schooling, Booth, McKinney, Georgiadis) 1:22.32, 3 CCC (Hedrich, Pinero, Newton, Hirschberger) 1:26.84, 100 back — 1 Skjaerpe (TP) 48.59, 2 Farese (Sho) 49.86, 6 Cates (TP) 51.73; 100 breast — 1 Groters (Uni) 54.7, 3 Chen (Sho) 57.87; 400 free relay — 1 Bolles (Schooling, Booth, Georgiadis, Rice) 3:01.86, 4 Shorecrest (Farese, Grant, Chen, Marshburn) 3:10.38, 5 Tampa Prep (Skjaerpe, Campo, Cates, Sedano-Roman) 3:11.33.

Staff writer Bob Putnam contributed to this report.

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