Pasco County teams have yet to win a district title against their Pinellas County counterparts, but there is progress.
Land O'Lakes' girls improved from fourth last year to third in Saturday's meet at the Long Center and three county swimmers won individual races.
Ridgewood's Joy Taylor nearly made it six, but she touched just behind Countryside's Cindy Rosal in the 500-yard freestyle. The Clearwater Aquatics Club teammates often race one another in practice at the Long Center.
"It was just her," said Rosal, whose time of 5 minutes, 8.08 seconds edged Taylor's 5:08.27. "We were racing each other. We weren't racing anybody else."
Countryside won the boys meet with 462 points and East Lake's 538 points gave the Eagles three straight district girls titles.
Gulf's girls and Ridgewood's boys each placed fourth for Pasco County's best team finishes behind the Land O'Lakes girls.
Hudson's Joe Hroma and Gulf's Jessica Lampkin each won two events. Margie Chamberlain, a Land O'Lakes freshman, was the county's other individual champion.
Hroma won the 200 individual medley and 100 butterfly, but all he could talk about was Hudson's third-place 200 medley relay team that included himself, Craig Bialkoski, Greg Montmarquet and Robert Bussy.
"They worked hard on improving their sprints and turns," said Hroma, a senior transfer from Indiana.
Finishing second in the 200 medley relay was the Land O'Lakes foursome of Chris Obara, Craig Hilgenberg, Adam Yanchunis and Travis Moore.
Lampkin's wins came in the 50 free and 100 backstroke. She also teamed with India Surlis, Emily Vlahakis and Kimmi Murphy to place third in the 200 medley relay and qualify for state in that event.
Lampkin, a junior transfer from Delaware, had qualified for state up north twice in the 100 back. She will swim the 50 free at state for the first time.
"It give me a taste of something new," Lampkin said. "It's kind of hard to do the same (event) over and over."
Chamberlain won the 100 butterfly and was a runner-up in the 200 free.
Taylor was not Ridgewood's only runner-up. The Rams' Mike Mansfield placed second in the 200 free.
Two county divers _ Gulf's Michelle Mendonca and Ridgewood's Nick DiIorio _ placed third.
Barrys headed for state
CLERMONT _ Next week's state meet in Fort Lauderdale will be a family affair for the Barry siblings of Springstead. They were among the top finishers at the meet who automatically advanced.
Junior Matt Barry won the district title in the 100 yard breaststroke. Barry reset his own district record in 1:01.92, and was third in the 50 free with a 23.23.
His freshman sister, Sarah, was second in the 200 individual medley in 2:19.44 and second in the 100 breaststroke 1:12.66.
"I'm happy," Sarah said. "I wasn't sure I would even make state."
She also was a part of the advancing 200 medley relay along with Ashley Martin, Sarah Siegel and Bobbie Brice, who were clocked at 2:05.84. The four also took fourth in the 400 free, and Martin automatically qualified with a third in the 100 backstroke.
Their strong finishes helped the Springstead girls to fourth place in the team standings, pleasing coach Brian Hengesbach.
"We set personal bests at conference and we come in a couple weeks later to districts and did what we did," Hengesbach said. "We hope the trend continues next week at states. Everybody's having fun and I think everybody had a real relaxed atmosphere on deck, not too many mental mistakes."
State veteran Carli Dofka of Hernando said she was nervous after finishing fourth in the 100 butterfly, but the senior posted a third in the 100 breaststroke in 1:13.34 to earn a return trip to state.
"It was very important, but I think I could have done a lot better," Dofka said.
Hernando teammate Kennah Johnson, who took third in the 100 freestyle with a 1:00.63, will be making her second trip to state. While Dofka said she will rest this week, Johnson, a junior, has other ideas.
"I'm going to work harder. I'm working for next year so I'm going to try to advance," she said.
Hernando's Jessica Lufsey also will be making a trip to state for her diving performance.
There were some surprises Saturday, and not just in the results.
Citrus freshman Ian Gaffney, a Gulf Coast Athletic Conference champ in four events, left the meet because coach Frank Bachteler said "he didn't feel like he could contribute to the team."
Citrus finished fourth in the 200 free relay with its foursome of Zach Frankel, Tyler Gennaro, Charlie Osterhout and Kevin Larkin. Osterhout was also fourth in the 100 breastroke, and Megan St. Clair was fourth in the 500 free on the girls' side. They are among finishers who could still go to state because the 10 best overall times in the state from places 4-6 earn wild-card spots.
But Saturday's meet was not just all about qualifying.
Central's Megan Wakeley, a first-year swimmer, made it to the consolation finals of the 50 free.
The Lecanto boys were among many teams to see improvement from last year's district meet.
"We're moving up definitely," said coach Paul Brundage. "We shifted up to more swimmers in the final eight events and of course more in our consolation heats, placing higher than we had in the past."
_ KRISTEN LEIGH PORTER
Jenkins girls pull upset
LAKELAND _ The George Jenkins girls were drenched by rain on a cold and miserable Saturday. The Eagles also were the surprise winners of the district meet at Ed Gandy Pool.
"I'm shocked," said Jenkins coach Terri Walker, whose girls edged favorite Lake Region 393-383 in the 12-team meet.
"I still can't believe it."
Lake Region won the boys title for the third straight year with 412 points. Bartow was second with 298.
The top three finishers in each event advanced to the state championships next Saturday at Fort Lauderdale's Hall of Fame Pool.
Among area teams, the Zephyrhills boys and girls were the top finishers as both ended up fourth. The Bulldogs boys scored 213 and the girls 248. Among boys teams, Armwood was fifth, Brandon eighth and East Bay 11th. In the girls meet, Brandon was sixth, Armwood seventh and East Bay 11th.
Lake Region led the way with 11 qualifiers, six boys and five girls. The Thunder will also have three girls relay teams and a pair of boys relay teams compete at the state meet.
"Our priority is to get to state with as many as we can, but winning the district is important too," Lake Region coach Gene Moore said. "But of course we wanted to do both. I'm a little disappointed."
The George Jenkins girls won only two individual events, both by sophomore Jennifer Illescas, who took the 200 freestyle in 1 minute, 53.37 seconds, and the 500 free in 5:05.60.
Lake Region's boys were led by Alex Kennon and Bryce Herrington, who had six first-place ribbons between them.
Kennon won the 200 and 500 free events. Herrington took the 100 free and 100 backstroke. They also swam on winning relay teams.
Bartow's Justin Lucius won the 50 free and James Jordan won the 100 breast.
Of the 12 teams in the boys competition, eight had qualifiers for the state meet.
Jenkins' boys finished second in the 200 medley relay and the 200 free relay, and had Steve Lander advance in the backstroke.
"That's a lot better than our boys did last year," Walker said.