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TIMES' TOP ATHLETES OF THE YEAR: Pinellas swimming

PINELLAS SWIMMING

 

Girls swimmer of the year: Alexandria Aitchison Junior, East Lake High

Why we picked her: The transfer from Arizona added firepower to an already impressive lineup. In the postseason, she became the leader when teammate Sydney Pickrem was unable to swim in individual events because she was competing in the FINA Swimming World Cup in Japan. Aitchison was undefeated in her individual events at the district, region and state meets and helped the Eagles finish as the Class 4A runnerup.

Proudest accomplishment: At state, Aitchison was dominant, winning titles in the 200 freestyle (1:47.52) and 500 free (4:47.82). She wasn't finished. In the 200 medley relay, she made up enough ground with her leg in the butterfly to help teammates Pickrem, Annika Smith and Michelle Turek to take gold in 1:47.03. Aitchison capped her night by swimming the opening leg in the 400 free relay. Madison Kennedy, Pickrem and Turek held on to the lead to win in 3:27.56. Aitchison's four gold medals were the most by any girl swimmer in the bay area and she helped account for 120 of the Eagles' 183 points. It was the most state titles she ever won. In Arizona, Aitchison won the 500 free as a freshman and missed the postseason her sophomore season because of mono.

Future plans: Aitchison is training for the Canadian Trials and is trying to qualify for the Pan Pacific Swimming championships.

Did you know? Aitchison's mother, Christine, was a three-time state equestrian champion in Nebraska.

 

First team

50 free Kendall McIntosh, Sr., Palm Harbor University: County's dominant swimmer in this event was 4A state runnerup in 23.92.

100 fly Emma Spilman, Jr., Clearwater Central Catholic: Fourth at A state meet in season's best time of 56.09.

100 free Michelle Turek, Jr., East Lake: State runnerup for the second year in 51.41.

100 back Sydney Pickrem, Jr., East Lake: Conference champion had county's best time in 56.25.

100 breast McKenna Harris, Sr., St. Petersburg: Third at 4A state meet in 1:04.41 after winning the event last season.

200 free Michelle Turek, Jr., East Lake.: Second behind teammate Aitchison at 4A state meet in 1:49.18.

200 IM Sydney Pickrem, Jr., East Lake: Her season-best time of 2:02.16 was more than four seconds faster than anyone else in the county.

500 free Alexandria Wittman, Sr., Osceola: Ohio State signee placed fourth at 3A state meet in 4:53.04.

200 free relay Palm Harbor University (Megan Kovac, Madison Jones, Lauren McIntosh, Kendall McIntosh): Seventh at the 4A state meet in 1:39.07.

200 medley relay East Lake (Sydney Pickrem, Annika Smith, Alexandra Aitchison, Michelle Turek): Won their first state title in 1:47.03.

400 free relay East Lake (Alexandra Aitchison, Madison Kennedy, Sydney Pickrem, Michelle Turek): Capped off 4A meet by winning event in 3:27.56.

Diving Haley Phipps, Sr., Northeast: Finished fifth at the 3A state meet with 341.50 points.

 

Second team

50 free: Lauren McIntosh, So., Palm Harbor University; 100 fly: Morgan Perrotti, Jr., Palm Harbor University; 100 free: Lauren McIntosh, So., Palm Harbor University; 100 back: Caroline Neely, Sr., Northeast; 100 breast: Mackenzie Stumpf, Jr., CC Catholic; 200 free: Alexandria Wittman, Sr., Osceola; 200 IM: Summer Finke, Jr., Countryside; 500 free: Summer Finke, Jr., Countryside; 200 free relay: Northeast (Caroline Neely, Summer Kanstoroom, Sarafina Wilson, Amanda Burrows); 200 medley relay: Palm Harbor University (Cydnie Bauer, Rachael Freeman, Morgan Perrotti, Kendall McIntosh). 400 free relay: Palm Harbor University (Megan Kovac, Caroline Ward, Katherine Mayer, Lauren McIntosh). Diving: Kelly Gallagher, So., Tarpon Springs.

 

Honorable mention

Clearwater: Brittany Borresen (diving); CC Catholic: Emma Spilman (200 IM), Mackenzie Stumpf (200 IM); Countryside: 400 free relay; East Lake: Annaklara Doel (500 free), Allison Heller (diving), Mackenzie Hubbard (100 back), 200 free relay; Gibbs: Sydney Wyatt (diving); Northeast: Sarah Boyd (diving), Amanda Burrows (500 free), Hristina Krasteva (100 back), Caroline Neely (500 free), 400 free relay; Northside Christian: Madeleine Clarke (200 free, 100 fly); Osceola: Jordan Lamanna (diving), Savannah Sawyers (50 free, 100 breast), Christina Tournant (100 fly), 200 medley relay, 200 free relay, 400 free relay; Palm Harbor University: Rachael Freeman (200 IM, 100 breast), Katherine Mayer (200 free, 100 back), Kendall McIntosh (500 free); St. Petersburg: McKenna Harris (200 IM), Peyton Palsha (200 free), 200 free relay; Shorecrest: Meredith Little (100 free), 400 free relay.

 

Coach of the year: Tim O'Keefe, East Lake High

With star power at the top of his lineup, O'Keefe kept the Eagles near the top at conference, district and region meets. At the Class 3A state meet, his team placed second, the highest finish of any girls program in the county regardless of classification.

 

Boys swimmer of the year: Tristan Sanders, senior, Palm Harbor University High

Why we picked him: Sanders was perhaps the most important returning swimmer on a team stacked with talent. He was a defending state champion in the 100 backstroke and expected to do well in the relays. He also helped fill the leadership void that was created the graduation of Ryan McRae, last year's Times boys swimmer of the year. But more than winning state titles, Sanders was focused on a team title. The Hurricanes accomplished that, winning their third in the past six years at the 4A meet.

Proudest accomplishment: At state, Sanders defended his title in the 100 backstroke, winning in a personal-best 47.79 seconds. In the 50 free, Sanders was second in 20.64, also a personal best. He was just as strong in the relays. In the 200 medley, Sanders teamed with Garrett Hoce, Manuel Barragan and Shaun Van Huyssteen to win in 1:33.22. Sanders then swam with Luis Rivadeneira, Barragan and Taylor Uselis to take gold in the 400 free relay (3:05.47). The three gold medals and one silver played a pivotal role in the Hurricanes prevailing. The state team title was particularly gratifying for Sanders, who had to sit out his sophomore season in 2011 after transferring from East Lake.

Future plans: Sanders, who has signed with Michigan, recently competed in the Speedo Winter Junior Nationals. He will continue to swim for his club team before reporting to Ann Arbor in the fall.

Did you know? Sanders played soccer, T-ball and roller hockey growing up but gave up the sports by the time he was in high school to concentrate on swimming.

 

First team

50 free Stefan Spiric, Jr., Seminole: Breakthrough season culminated with a third-place finish at 4A state meet in 20.85

100 fly Manuel Barragan, Sr., Palm Harbor University: After finishing eighth a year ago, Barragan made a big leap as 4A state runnerup in 49.66.

100 free Noah Harasz, Sr., Lakewood: Not only did he reach the finals for the first time, he was the 2A state runnerup in 45.34.

100 back Ryan Peters, Sr., Countryside: Cincinnati recruit was the 4A state runnerup in 49.82.

100 breast Joshua Chen, Jr., Shorecrest: Had his best finish in a tough class, placing third in A in 57.87.

200 free Ryan Peters, Sr., Countryside: Capped off his high school career by winning his first state title in 4A in 1:39.20.

200 IM Manuel Barragan, Sr., Palm Harbor University: Won the first state title of his career in 1:49.94.

500 free Nazareno Boscaino, So., East Lake: Defended his state title in the event at the 4A meet in 4:26.89.

200 free relay Countryside (Ryan Peters, Michael Lombardo, Tommy Kelly, Cooper Hoffman): The foursome dominated the event all season, winning 4A title in 1:24.93.

200 medley relay Palm Harbor University (Tristan Sanders, Garrett Hoce, Manuel Barragan, Shaun VanHuysteen): After finishing third last year, the same quartet won 4A state title this year in 1:33.22.

400 free relay Palm Harbor University (Tristan Sanders, Luis Rivadeneira, Manuel Barragan, Taylor Uselis): Improved on last year's state runnerup finish by winning 4A title in 3:05.47.

Diving Joshua Morehouse, Jr., Northeast: Continued the Vikings' tradition of place winners in the event by finishing as 3A state runnerup (405.95).

 

Second team

50 free: Cooper Hoffman, Jr., Countryside. 100 fly: Vance Sanders, Fr., East Lake; 100 free: Stefan Spiric, Jr., Seminole; 100 back: John Farese, Sr., Shorecrest; 100 breast: Garrett Hoce, Sr., Palm Harbor University; 200 free: Noah Harasz, Sr., Lakewood; 200 IM: Garrett Hoce, Sr., Palm Harbor University; 500 free: Matthew Hirschberger, Fr., CC Catholic. 200 free relay: Palm Harbor University (Garrett Hoce, Corey Connelly, Isaac Wilks, Shaun VanHuyssteen); 200 medley relay: Shorecrest (John Farese, Alex Grant, Joshua Chen, Mark Marshburn); 400 free relay: Countryside (Ryan Peters, Michael Lombardo, Tommy Kelly, Cooper Hoffman). Diving: Tanner Berendt, Sr., Countryside

 

Honorable mention

CC Catholic: Michael Hedrich (100 free), Matthew Hirschberger (200 free), Cameron Newton (200 IM), 200 free relay; Countryside: Cooper Hoffman (100 free), Tommy Kelly (100 breast), Michael Lombardo (100 back); East Lake: Nazareno Boscaino (200 free), Mitchell Irwin (100 breast), Grant Sanders (200 IM), Vance Sanders (100 back); 200 medley relay; Lakewood: Jonathan Long (50 free, 100 free), 200 free relay; Northeast: Jacob Moore (100 free); Osceola: Calvin Bryant (200 free, 500 free), 200 free relay, 400 free relay; Palm Harbor University: Ed Smith (200 IM), Taylor Uselis (200 free, 500 free), Shaun VanHuyssteen (50 free); Seminole: Brandon Christian (500 free), 200 medley relay, 200 free relay; Shorecrest: Joshua Chen (200 IM); Tarpon Springs: Filip Sarmento (diving)

 

Coach of the year: Lisa Bitting, Palm Harbor University

The longtime coach had already guided the Hurricanes to two state team titles. But this year's team, led by a strong senior class, was perhaps her most dominant. PHU won its third team title in six years, scoring 276 points, the most it has ever netted at a state meet.

 

TIMES' TOP ATHLETES OF THE YEAR: Pinellas swimming 01/16/14 [Last modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2014 11:06am]

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