The North Suncoast got its first taste of postseason swimming last weekend at the Sunshine Athletic Conference meet. Swimmers broke records and most of the top teams showed they were in form for this week's district meets. But now each meet counts for sanctioned championships, and in the end only the state's best will earn those few precious coveted state berths. Here's a glance at this week's North Suncoast district meets.
Class 3A, District 5
Where: North Shore Pool, St. Petersburg
When: Thursday, diving, 4 p.m.; Friday, swimming, 9 a.m.
Local teams involved: Mitchell
Others: Alonso, Countryside, East Lake, Gibbs, Largo, Palm Harbor University, Pinellas Park, St. Petersburg, Sickles
Need to know: This might be the state's premier district. The three boys favorites — Palm Harbor University, Countryside and Sickles — conceivably could finish among the top five at state. … PHU won the boys and girls titles at the recent Pinellas County Athletic Conference meet. … Sickles senior Gregg Cooke, the defending 50-yard freestyle state champ, won the 50 and 100 free at this meet last year.
Class 2A, District 5
Where: (diving) Hercules Aquatic Center in Zephyrhills; (swimming) Bob Sierra YMCA in Northdale
When: Thursday, diving, 9 a.m.; Friday, swimming, 9 a.m.
Local teams involved: Central, Gulf, Hudson, Land O'Lakes, Ridgewood, River Ridge, Springstead, Sunlake, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills
Others: Citrus, Lecanto, Groveland South Lake
Need to know: Land O'Lakes takes its first step toward dual district titles. … The Gators boys have arguably their best team in years led by Curt Hilgenberg, Eric Singer and Sean Lawson. … Sunlake senior Brad Morrison begins his quest for a state title in the 100-yard backstroke. And of course, no one can overlook individuals such as Gulf senior Michael Centanni and Hudson senior Chris Pearce. In girls competition, Gators newcomer Alex Pierovich has grabbed attention all season as has Zephyrhills sophomore Lindsay Gorgen, who looks stronger than last season. … Central sophomore Mary-Alice McGheehan looks to make another strong run toward state without her sister, Elizabeth, who graduated last year. And where will Hudson's girls or Sunlake for that matter stand when it's all over?
Class A, District 3
Where: Laurel Manor Pool, The Villages
When: Today, swimming, 9 a.m. (diving was held Monday afternoon)
Local teams involved: Academy at the Lakes, Bishop McLaughlin (girls only), Hernando, Nature Coast, Pasco, Wiregrass Ranch
Others: Crystal River, Dunnellon, Eustis, Mount Dora, Ocala St. John Lutheran, Tavares, Ocala Trinity Catholic, Umatilla, The Villages
Need to know: Wiregrass Ranch's girls and Pasco's boys are the defending district runnersup. … Don't be shocked if the Bulls girls, a dizzying blend of youth and skill, overtake Crystal River for the girls crown. Sophomores Kaylin Sylvester (100-yard freestyle) and Rebecca Pindral (100 breast) won individual district titles last year and were on the winning 200 freestyle and 200 medley relay teams. … Pasco's conference champion boys 200 free relay team — Wes Starnes, Cameron Jordan, Justin Inversso and Taylor Hermann — returns three-fourths of the squad that finished second in this event at districts last season.