LAND O'LAKES — Heather Geisler knew what Sunlake was about to face.
She spent each stroke of her high school years swimming for Land O'Lakes and helped build the program into a perennial power. And now, like many of the swimmers she coaches who would have been Gators before Sunlake opened, she now is the enemy.
That enemy almost pulled off an upset Wednesday in a meet that came down to the final race, the 400-yard freestyle relay.
In the end, Land O'Lakes overcame a six-point deficit with four events remaining for the 98-88 victory. The Land O'Lakes boys team cruised with a 133-50 win.
This was the second time in as many weeks a potential upset was brewing in a girls meet. Last week, Wiregrass Ranch was upended by Hudson in a notable upset.
The race for the final first-place ribbon Wednesday came down to Gators junior Karley Nelson pulling ahead of Sunlake senior Nikki Walters with a winning time of 4:21.22.
Once again, the night belonged to a pair of talented freshmen. The Gators were led by Alex Pierovich, who won the 100 free (57.87) and 100 breast (1:13.69), and was a member of the winning 200 medley and 400 free relays. Sunlake countered with Savannah Mattox, who won the 200 free (2:25.35) and the 100 fly (1:17.16).
The Gators and Seahawks were tied at 60 after the 500 free. The Gators went on to win the final four events.
For the boys, the Gators were dominant once again, taking all but two first-place finishes. Those events were won by former Gator Brad Morrison, who took the 200 free (1:51.92) and the 500 free (5:01.54).
Land O'Lakes was led by Curt Hilgenberg, who won the 200 individual medley (2:18.23) and the 100 breast (1:12.62) and was a member of the winning 200 medley relay and 400 relay.
Gators junior Andrew Busot won the 50 free (25.22) and the 100 free (56.29) and was a member of the winning 200 medley relay and 400 relay.
There was a bit of controversy beforehand over what some thought was intended to be a three-team meet.
Ridgewood had been invited, but never officially signed a contract.