GAINESVILLE — The reality of Mitchell's best region finish in school history sunk in at one particular moment — when the Mustangs were handed the trophy.
Mitchell's boys erupted in cheers and posed for pictures with their most significant piece of hardware to date after a second-place finish Thursday in the Class 2A, Region 2 meet at the University of Florida's O'Connell Center.
"I'm speechless, I really am," Mitchell coach Joe Lampkin said. "I'm the fourth coach in four years. The turnaround was because of the kids. They're a super group of boys, mature leaders, all self-motivated. I can't say enough about them."
The Mustangs scored 185 points, behind first-place Lecanto with 193.5. Land O'Lakes, which won the Sunshine Athletic Conference and district meets, was fourth.
Mitchell kicked off the night with a win in the 200-yard medley, swam by senior Alex Wegener, sophomore Ian Ondrejka, freshman Devin McCaffrey and junior Gavin Hunt (1:43.29).
The quartet hooked up again in the 200 free relay, winning it with a 1:31.68.
McCaffrey shined once again, claiming individual region titles in the 100 fly (52.28) and the 100 breast (1:01.46). Ondrejka was third in the 100 breast (1:05.96).
"I love this pool," McCaffrey said. "I always swim fast here."
Overall, North Suncoast swimmers in general didn't place high despite many placing their best times of the year.
One exception was Gulf sophomore Hunter Swartsel, who won a region title in the 100 free (49.00). He also finished third in the 100 back (56.28).
Ridgewood junior Joe Geschke was seeded first in the 200 and 500 free entering finals. Unshaved and untapered, he finished third in the 200 (1:48.91) and second in the 500 (4:58.79).
For the girls, Land O'Lakes finished highest among North Suncoast teams in seventh with 138 points. Sunlake was ninth (109).
Individual finishers included Wiregrass Ranch junior Rebecca Pindral, who finished third in the 100 breast and seventh in the 200 IM.
Land O'Lakes sophomore Alex Pierovich was third in the 200 IM and sixth in the 100 breast. Mitchell sophomore Mazie Siddens was third in the 200 fly and fourth in the 200 IM.
Zephyrhills junior Lindsay Gorgen was third in the 100 back, seventh in the 100 free.