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Swimmer of the Year: Rasmus Skjaerpe, Jr., Tampa Prep
Why we picked him: Skjaerpe has been one of the county’s top swimmers since his freshman year, even earning our designation as the county’s top swimmer as a sophomore. This year he brought gold back from the Class A state meet to affirm his status as one of the best in Florida and the nation. Skjaerpe was the county’s top individual finisher with his first-place, automatic All-America time of 1:38.20 in the 200 free. He also claimed silver in the 100 butterfly with another automatic All-America time (49.08) and was a member of Tampa Prep’s seventh-place 400 free relay.
Proudest accomplishment: After coming up short in his quest for gold the previous two years, Skjaerpe had little trouble identifying the highlight of his high school career. “I wanted to win gold,” he said. “We’ve changed things a little and done more sprinting during my training.” There was a steady buildup to that moment on the podium at state. Skjaerpe switched to the 200 free in the offseason after improving his freestyle stroke and coach Jason Bowes pulled him out of the finals of the 200 medley relay at state so he could concentrate on the individual events. “I wanted it for him,” Bowes said.
Future plans: Skjaerpe will continue training for club and summer events, and is keeping a close eye on colleges. He’s been looking at all of the top schools — Arizona, Auburn and Texas, among others — and plans to make visits in the coming months.
Did you know? Skjaerpe stays close to the water even when he’s out of the pool. “Moose” said he’s a water sports enthusiast, enjoying activities like water skiing and fishing when not going through his grueling six-day-a-week training schedule. Last summer, Skjaerpe said, he caught a 300-pound bull shark a couple miles offshore near St. Pete Beach. He figures it took him about an hour to finally bring it in the boat. “My arms weren’t feeling too good after that,” he said.
200 medley relay: Tampa Prep (Van Cates, Alex Blustein, Gregory Campo, Zach Burmeister). Sixth (1:41.65) at Class A state meet.
200 free: Rasmus Skjaerpe, Jr., Tampa Prep. First (1:38.20) at Class A state meet.
200 individual medley: Thompson Marston, Sr., Jesuit. 11th (2:00.36) at Class 2A state meet.
50 free: John Nolte, Sr., Robinson. Third (21.15) in Class 2A state meet.
Diving: Max Jenkins, Fr., Plant. Seventh (397.30) in Class 3A state meet.
100 fly: Rasmus Skjaerpe, Jr., Tampa Prep. Second (49.08) in Class A state meet.
100 free: John Nolte, Sr., Robinson. Third (46.40) in Class 2A state meet.
500 free: Zach Kitzis, Jr., Strawberry Crest. 22nd (4:57.91) in Class 2A state meet.
200 free relay: Robinson (Ross Brown, Alex Sparks, Connor Brown, John Nolte). Third (1:29.13) in Class 2A state meet.
100 back: Graham Olney, So., Berkeley Prep. Eighth (54.73) in Class A state meet.
100 breast: Austin Sellers, So., Jesuit. Seventh (59.96) in Class 2A state meet.
400 free relay: Robinson (Ross Brown, Alex Sparks, Connor Brown, John Nolte). Ninth (3:16.17) in Class 2A state meet.
200 medley relay: Jesuit (Thompson Marston, Austin Sellers, Trevor Schaettle, Will Jennings). 200 free: Benjamin Parker, Jesuit. 200 individual medley: Tyler Heath, Plant. 50 free: D.J. Waite, Bloomingdale. Diving: Dart Hutson, Jesuit. 100 fly: Gregory Campo, Tampa Prep. 100 free: D.J. Waite, Bloomingdale. 500 free: Benjamin Parker, Jesuit. 200 free relay: Berkeley Prep (Ryan Franzese, Zak Copper, Thomas Mayer, Keating Mosher). 100 back: Gregory Campo, Tampa Prep. 100 breast: Blaise Genne, Newsome. 400 free relay: Tampa Prep (Rasmus Skjaerpe, Gregory Campo, Alex Blustein, Zach Burmeister)
Berkeley Prep: Bradley Mitchell, Harrison Keane, Jesse Potts, Hugo Rapp, Anthony Rauft-Lomano. King: Eric Chao. Jesuit: Tommy Shaffer. Plant: Reid Fleming, Dylan Power. Tampa Prep: Evan Pittman, Oscar Skjaerpe, Alec Sussman
Coach of the Year
Jason Bowes, Tampa Prep. The Terps finished second in the district and region meets — behind Berkeley Prep — before finishing eighth with 99.5 points at the Class A state meet, the top finish for a boys team in the county in that classificatin. Bowes’ decision to move Rasmus Skjaerpe to the 200 free so he could focus on individual events netted the Skjaerpe and the Terps the only gold medal among Hillsborough boys swimmers at state.
Swimmer of the Year: Maddie Hess, So., Newsome
Why we picked her: What a difference a year makes. Last fall, Hess was disqualified in the Class 3A state finals of the 100 backstroke after a false start. She spent a lot of time at the meet watching girl after girl take the podium to accept their medals. “I knew some of the girls who went up there,” she said. “I just visualized myself doing the same thing.” Hess took her turn at the top of the podium this year. Hess won three gold medals — 100 free, 100 back and 200 medley relay — and a bronze in the 400 free relay. Her times in the 100 free (50.88) and 100 back (55.01) won her automatic All-America honors. Call her Hillsborough’s Golden Girl.
Proudest accomplishment: Out of all her gold-winning efforts, Hess points to her victory in the 100 back as her top performance of the year. She edged out top-seeded and club season foe Sydney Pickrem of East Lake in the final by .37th of a second. “I wasn’t the favorite,” Hess said. “We race against each other all the time. Sometimes it just depends on the day (who wins).”
Future plans: Hess has pointed toward breaking the state’s 100-yard back mark of 53.82 set by Aubrey Peacock of Bolles in 2009. “Definitely, by my senior year, I want to break that record,” she said. Her more pressing short-term goal is getting sleep, which isn’t surprising for someone who practices nine times a week — her club team has doubles on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Did you know? Hess and her mother agree that she’s always messing around on her iPhone 4, exchanging texts with friends, posting messages on Facebook or using the popular app Snap Chat, which allows users to send photos that self-destruct within seconds. But improbably enough, Hess doesn’t have a Twitter account and doesn’t seem to plan on getting one anytime soon. “I’m just not interested,” she said.
200 medley relay: Newsome (Maddie Hess, Barbara Caraballo, Karisa Kostecki, Lauren Harper). First (1:46.94) in Class 3A state meet.
200 free: Hannah Fredlake, Fr., Tampa Prep. 16th (1:56.81) in Class A state meet.
200 individual medley: Barbara Caraballo, Sr., Newsome. Second (2:04.78) in Class 3A state meet.
50 free: Clare Fleming, Jr., Holy Names. 11th (24.48) in Class 2A state meet.
Diving: Stephanie Punzak, Fr., Berkeley Prep. Seventh (364.85) in Class A state meet.
100 fly: Barbara Caraballo, Sr., Newsome. Fourth (56.48) in Class 3A state meet.
100 free: Maddie Hess, So., Newsome. First (50.88) in Class 3A state meet.
500 free: Bailey Bowden, Jr., Plant City. Eighth (5:01.19) in Class 3A state meet.
200 free relay: Plant (Alexandria Donahue, Emily Clifford, Tara McGowan, Ashlyn Gage). Third (1:37.39) in Class 3A meet.
100 back: Maddie Hess, So., Newsome. First (55.01) in Class 3A state meet.
100 breast: Alexandria Donahue, So., Plant. First (1:03.81) in Class 3A state meet.
400 free relay: Newsome (Maddie Hess, Barbara Caraballo, Sarah Neely, Lauren Harper). Third (3:32.06) in Class 3A state meet.
Girls second team
200 medley relay: Plant (Carter Flynn, Alexandria Donahue, Emily Clifford, Tara McGowan). 200 free: Kristen Dawson, Holy Names. 200 individual medley: Dee Sopapong, Wharton. 50 free: Tori Litschgi, Holy Names. Diving: Sydney Power, Plant. 100 fly: Emily Clifford, Plant. 100 free: Clare Fleming, Holy Names. 500 free: Sarah Neely, Newsome. 200 free relay: Holy Names (Olivia Kirkpatrick, Konner Brewer, Clare Fleming, Tori Litschgi). 100 back: Colleen Driscoll, Holy Names. 100 breast: Dee Sopapong, Wharton. 400 free relay: Holy Names (Konner Brewer, Tori Litschgi, Clare Fleming, Alex Nuyianes)
Berkeley Prep: Megan Blatz, Sammi Blatz, Elle Chancey, Clare Harrison, Nikki Potts. Holy Names: Julia Cogdill, Alex Nuyianes, Margret Shumake, Shae Timmons. Newsome: Louiza Garayeva, Allison Greenwood, Julia Kostecki, Allyson Nied. Plant: Emma Donahue, Riley Springett. Steinbrenner: Ashley Kubel. Strawberry Crest: Angelina Gallastegui. Tampa Bay Tech: Sydney Bexley. Tampa Prep: Caroline Alexander, Caroline Brown, Anne Myers, Savannah Savitt, Rain Siswanto, Carylyn Waite
Coach of the Year
Erin Yonkee, Newsome. The Wolves won their district, came in second at regionals, then finished third with 154 points at the Class 3A state meet — best among any team in Hillsborough, boys or girls. Behind Maddie Hess and Barbara Caraballo, Newsome had the county’s top individual performer (Hess) and the top relay teams.