1. Archive

Wharton team is young, talented

The Florida Marlins, in just their fifth season, became the youngest World Series champions after Sunday night's 3-2 win over the Cleveland Indians.

Wharton High School's swimming team did not wait nearly as long for its first title _ albeit one not as widely acclaimed.

The boys and girls teams from the new school won National Division crowns Saturday in their first season, beating out teams from Sickles, Blake, Armwood, Jefferson and Robinson at Copeland Pool in Tampa.

In recognition of those achievements, the Wildcats will be honored at midfield before tonight's home football game against Seminole Osceola.

Even though the girls finished fourth and the boys fifth in Monday's Western Conference swimming finals at Bobby Hicks Pool in Tampa, Wharton coaches were ecstatic with the team's instant success.

"We just did great. We kicked water again," Wharton girls coach Pam Peralta said, uttering her oft-repeated phrase. "We're on top of the world. The kids are so pumped."

Despite the fact that the Wildcats have no seniors this year, boys coach Marcie Scholl said the key to winning was that swimmers changed events throughout the season and practices focused on fun.

"In some cases, it humbled them a little bit," Scholl said of shuffling her lineups.

"We changed them around to build their character. We're really a team. There are no hot shots here."

After an 8-2 mark in dual meets, Wharton's girls team placed six swimmers in the conference finals.

The boys team, which finished the regular season with a 7-3 record, sent seven swimmers to the conference finals.

None of those swimmers, however, won at that level.

Placing in the top two at the division competition, which earned them berths in the conference finals, were:

Boys: Philip Szabanio, 100 freestyle; Keith McGee, 200 free and 100 butterfly; Andy Ball, 100 breast stroke and 200 individual medley; James Foley, 500 free; Kevin Mendlin, 100 fly; 200 free relay (Foley, Steve Turner, Mendlin and Mike Berkstresser); 200 medley relay (Szabanio, McGee, Ball and Turner); 400 free relay (Szabanio, Foley, Ball and McGee).

Girls: Megan Kearney, 100 free, 200 free; Meagan Berkstresser, 200 IM; Lauren Heise, 100 breast; Michelle Scott, 100 back and 200 IM; Jackie LaMura, 50 free; Kelly Kearney, 50 free; 200 free relay (Scott, LaMura, Heise and Kelly Kearney); 400 free relay (Scott LaMura, Heise and Kelly Kearney).

Next up for Wharton is the Class 4A, District 5 meet Nov. 15 at Seminole Osceola.

Regardless how the team does in districts, Peralta is optimistic about next year.

"We know we have a pretty bright future," she said. "We've got a lot of kids coming back."