Swimmer of the Year: Taylor Anderson, Jr., Mitchell
Why we picked her: Anderson reprises her role as Times’ Swimmer of the Year. The junior was expected to take Devin McCaffrey’s spot as Mitchell’s top performer, and she filled the role easily. She was named Sunshine Athletic Conference’s top swimmer after earning her first Class 3A state title in the 50 free (23.39) — she also won the event at districts. Now she’s breaking her own school records, and who knows what she’ll do in her final year.
Most impressive accomplishments: Anderson made her first trip to the state podium as a sophomore but took home her first gold this year. She was the only local swimmer to win an event at the 3A meet, and her time at state was a personal best.
Future plans: Anderson is starting to look at colleges more seriously, and though she used to have a dream school, now she’s just focused on finding a university with solid academics and a swim program that helps her improve. “Any option is a good option,” she said. She would like to stay in the Southeast, but she’s not limiting her scope.
Did you know? Anderson started swimming later than most competitors, at age 10, when her parents took her to a local aquatic center. “My parents never pushed it too much,” she said. They didn’t want to force her into a competitive drive that would burn her out. “The longer you swim, the more competitive you get. It just grows on you,” she said.
Coach of the year
Robin Hilgenberg, Land O’Lakes. In addition to serving as a team mom on the boys side, Hilgenberg led the girls to their first region championship, sixth district championship and sixth SAC championship.
50 free Taylor Anderson, Jr., Mitchell: Won first state title in 23.39 after taking third in regionals and winning districts.
100 fly Abbey Duncan, Fr., Wesley Chapel: Runnerup at 2A state meet (56.23) after winning at regionals, districts.
100 free Athena Cimino, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch: Eighth at 3A state meet (53.63) after finishing third at regionals.
100 back Kara Wilkins, Fr., Sunlake: 10th at 2A state meet (58.45) after a runnerup finish at regionals.
100 breast Jocelyn Williams, Sr., Land O’Lakes: District champ finished third at regionals and seventh at 2A state meet (1:09.28).
200 free Abbey Duncan, Fr., Wesley Chapel: Nabbed the Wildcats’ first state swimming title (1:50.82) after also taking the region championship.
200 IM Carigan Albert, Sr., Sunlake: Fifth at regionals (2:13.60) and first at districts.
500 free Pierce Imperialbobis, Fr., Land O’Lakes: Fourth at regionals (5:24.44) after notching a district title.
200 free relay Land O’Lakes (Aimee Fernandez, Dona McDonald, Sarah Dejohn, Krystin Demsher): Third at regionals (1:49.65) and won districts.
200 medley relay Land O’Lakes (Pierce Imperialbobis, Jocelyn Williams, Connor McKay, Megan Thai): Region champs (1:55.70) placed 13th at state.
400 free relay Land O’Lakes (Megan Thai, Connor McKay, Jocelyn Williams, Krystin Demsher) Won the region championship (3:46.33) and came in eighth at state.
Diving Domineeka Luis, So., Hudson: 15th at state (289.80) after coming in sixth at regionals and third at districts.
50 free: Athena Cimino, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch; 100 fly: Kara Wilkins, Fr., Sunlake; 100 free: Taylor Anderson, Jr., Mitchell; 100 back: Maddy Conway, So., Wiregrass Ranch; 100 breast: Megan Thai, Fr., Land O’Lakes; 200 free: Krystin Demsher, Sr., Land O’Lakes; 200 IM: Jocelyn Williams, Sr., Land O’Lakes; 500 free: Katherine Cancello, Jr., Mitchell; 200 free relay: Springstead (Allyson Fielder, Sara Overa, Maddy Kiloh, Monica Surrena); 200 medley relay: Sunlake (Kara Wilkins, Nicole Koutras, Carigan Albert, Amanda Albrecht); 400 free relay: Sunlake (Amanda Albrecht, Courtney Meyer, Carigan Albert, Kara Wilkins); Diving: Ashley Morris, Sr., Zephyrhills
Fivay: Rachael Bradley (50 free); Gulf: Salliemae Blethroad (100 back, 100 fly); Hernando: Paisley Whitaker (100 free, 100 back); Hudson: Kaitlyn Fussell (200 free), Ashley Powers (50 free), Lauren Broom (100 back); Land O’Lakes: Julianne Fittipaldi (200 free, 100 fly), Sarah Dejohn (200 IM), Tori Hartley (200 IM), Dona McDonald (50 free), Darienne Ingalls (diving); Pasco: Bryce McMenamin (50 free, 200 free), Emily Gelb (200 IM, 500 free); River Ridge: Montanna Gottman (200 IM, 500 free), Allison Cortwright (diving), Baylee Lewandowski (100 breast); Ridgewood: Rachel Bachand (200 free, 100 free), Lauren Turenne (50 free); Springstead: Monica Surrena (200 free, 100 free), Allyson Fielder (200 free, 500 free), Sara Overa (100 fly, 100 back); Sunlake: Nicole Wilner (200 free), Lindsey McLean (200 free, 100 fly), Amber Pritchard (200 free, 50 free), Courtney Meyer (200 IM), Amanda Albrecht (200 IM, 500 free), Katie Haqq (50 free, 100 free), Sara Sturgess (50 free), Kat Whittington (diving), Madison Holt (100 free), Emily Engel (100 free), Nicole Koutras (500 free), Nicole Wilner (500 free); Weeki Wachee: Danielle Bernason (50 free), Samantha Purvis (500 free); Zephyrhills: Hannah Cutkomp (200 IM), Emma Cutkomp (500 free), Emily Novak (100 breast), Rose Rood (100 breast)
Swimmer of the Year: Cameron Hilgenberg, Sr., Land O’Lakes
Why we picked him: Hilgenberg wrapped up his final season with a state medal and shattered school records in hand. This was his fourth year swimming for the Gators and his first as captain, and he didn’t disappoint. He is the last of three brothers to swim for Land O’Lakes and the first to make the podium at state with a third-place finish in the 50 free.
Most impressive accomplishments: Hilgenberg won four events at the Sunshine Athletic Conference meet and set a record in the 50 free (21.73). He also won the 50 free and 100 breast at districts and regionals before taking third in the 50 free at the Class 2A meet (21.33) and seventh in 100 breast (59.45). And he holds school records in those two events.
Future plans: Though he’s had a few offers to swim in college, Hilgenberg’s swim career is likely over. “My heart’s just in baseball now,” he said. But he added that if a Division I swim program offered him a tempting scholarship package, he would consider it. He’s had talks with Louisville and Kentucky’s programs, and he hasn’t ruled them out. “I’ve been swimming since I was 4 years old — so, 14 years, now — and it’s been a good run, and I’ve had a really successful career. But now I’d like to have a successful career in baseball.” He plans to study business management.
Did you know? The desire to outshine his two older brothers — both of whom swam at Land O’Lakes and set school records — was a major factor in Hilgenberg’s career. “The thing that kept me swimming this year is my two brothers,” he said. “What I really wanted to do was get on the podium.”
Coach of the year
Brian Vaile, Land O’Lakes: The Gators’ first-year head coach inherited a strong program from Barbara Hayes, but he had a lot to live up to. He took the boys to their 13th consecutive SAC championship.
50 free Emir Muratovic, Jr., Ridgewood: Took gold at the 2A state meet in 20.81, earning All-America honors.
100 fly Jordan Wheeler, Jr., Land O’Lakes: First at regionals (52.37) after also winning districts.
100 free Kenneth Graham, Sr., Pasco: Seventh at regionals (52.11) after winning a district title.
100 back William Haas, Sr., Fivay: Ninth at 2A state meet (55.97) after winning districts.
100 breast Cameron Hilgenberg, Sr., Land O’Lakes: Seventh at state (59.45) after sweeping region and district titles.
200 free Morgan Kiloh, Sr., Springstead: Finished in 1:47.03 to place 13th in 2A state meet; runnerup at districts.
200 IM Jordan Wheeler, Jr., Land O’Lakes: Won at districts by nearly six seconds (2:02.21).
500 free Parker Phillips, Jr., Land O’Lakes: Third at regionals (5:20.39) after a runnerup finish at districts.
200 free relay Springstead (Hunter Geisen, Matthew Sundell, Trey Patterson, Morgan Kiloh): Finished in 1:38.08 at regionals for a fourth-place finish after being crowned district champions.
200 medley relay Land O’Lakes (Alex Long, Cameron Hilgenberg, Jordan Wheeler, Tom Gugliemello): The region champions (1:42.28) took 10th at state in 1:41.63.
400 free relay Land O’Lakes (Jordan Wheeler, Alex Long, Parker Phillips, Cameron Hilgenberg): Third place at regionals in 3:25.66.
Diving Patrick Douglas, Jr., Fivay: Sixth at regionals (249.60) after placing second at districts.
50 free: Cameron Hilgenberg, Sr., Land O’Lakes; 100 fly: Morgan Kiloh, Sr., Springstead; 100 free: Johnathan McDowell, So., Hudson; 100 back: Max Pierovich, So., Land O’Lakes; 100 breast: Caleb Zeleznock, Sr., Wesley Chapel; 200 free: Caleb Zeleznock, Sr., Wesley Chapel; 200 IM: William Haas, Sr., Fivay; 500 free: Dan McAuliffe, Sr., River Ridge; 200 free relay: Ridgewood (Donovan Stoll, Admir Kalabalukovic, Brian Swanson, Emir Muratovic); 200 medley relay: Wiregrass Ranch (Anthony Amaro, Jacob Still, Matt Menendez, Carson Roderick); 400 free relay: Wiregrass Ranch (Anthony Amaro, Sam Morris, Jacob Still, Matt Menendez); Diving: Eddie Straughn, So., Sunlake
Central: Addison Hilyard (100 fly); Fivay: 200 medley and 400 free relays (William Haas, Zach Daniels, Duke Dalton, Patrick Douglas), Zach Daniels (500 free, 100 fly); Gulf: Manden Smith (50 free), Jacob Crosby (100 breast); Hernando: Brennan Ertl (50 free, 100 fly), Lane Whitaker (50 free); Hudson: Anderson Combs (50 free), Charles Bissell (100 back), Jonathan Stone (100 breast); Pasco: Joseph Nystrom (200 IM, 100 fly), Mathew Telese (50 free), William Wilson (500 free, 100 breast), Caleb Balogh (100 breast), Zachary Balogh (50 free); Ridgewood: Donovan Stoll (200 free, 500 free); River Ridge: Camerin Welsh (200 free), Alexander Marzicola (200 IM, 100 breast), Zachery Strarkey (50 free, 100 free), Evan Rudd (diving); Springstead: Hunter Geisen (200 free, 100 breast), Sam Brockway (200 IM, 100 back), Trey Patterson (50 free, 100 free), Matthew Sundell (100 fly, 100 back), Christopher Begeny (500 free), Gordon Appleton (100 breast); Sunlake: Eli Walker (100 breast, 200 IM), Austin Albrecht (200 free, 500 free), Jordan Morrell (200 free), Justin Chang (200 IM, 50 free), Brennen VanVliet (100 fly), Tyler Cole (100 fly), Michael Bryer (500 free); Weeki Wachee: Michael Molnar (200 free, 500 free), Jake Bence (50 free, 100 free), Ashton Hunter (500 free, 100 free); Wesley Chapel: Logan McMahan (200 free, 100 fly), Shawn Devisfruto (100 free); Zephyrhills: Austin Bryant (100 free), Ben Green (100 back)