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Pirates finish off team goal

Pasco's boys pulled off a triple crown by becoming the county's first district champion.

The Pirates, winners of the Suncoast Relays and Sunshine Athletic Conference meets this season, won the Class A, District 5 meet Friday at Rowdy Gaines Pool in Winter Haven.

"I'm pretty thrilled, I've got to tell you," Pasco coach Russ Rosenbauer said.

So is Gulf coach Linda Cassidy, who helped found the county's inaugural program in 1984.

"I think it's great," Cassidy said. "I wish people would recognize that as an asset for our county.

"Hopefully, that'll help our sport."

Pasco's girls finished third in the district meet.

Brett Clark and Jason Epperson each won two individual events. Clark, the 2001 county Boys Swimmer of the Year, swam the 200-yard individual medley in 2 minutes, 14.61 seconds and the 100 butterfly in 58.66. Epperson had winning times in the 200 freestyle (1:58.76) and 500 free (5:35.99).

Additionally, both seniors also were part of the winning 400 free relay team (4:34.46) and Clark helped the 200 free relay team (1:36.98) to victory.

Rosenbauer said Clark and Epperson, along with seniors Mark Hudson and Davy Johnson, and junior Ross Coscia focused on winning the district title.

"They actually set this goal at the beginning of the season," Rosenbauer said, "and based on last year's performance at conference and district (the Pirates were runners-up in both) I thought they could do it."

Pasco also got key points from freshman Orey Clark (Brett's brother), Kris Browning and Josh Brock, who earned points in the 200 IM, 50 free and 100 fly.

"The depth is actually what did it," Rosenbauer said of the Pirates' 398-393 victory over defending champion Lake Placid.

"This is the first year I had three- and four-year veterans and they really set the standard. The other kids saw the work ethic required to be a winner."

Hudson's Joe Hroma, a senior transfer from Indiana, will be the county's other dual district winner at the state meet. Hroma, competing in the 2A-5 meet Saturday at the Long Center in Clearwater, won the 200 IM (2:05.56) and 100 fly (56.51).

Hroma helped Hudson's 200 medley relay team qualify by placing third. That foursome, which finished behind second-place Land O'Lakes in 1:52.34, includes Craig Bialkoski, Greg Montmarquet and Robert Bussy.

Having competed in three state meets in Indiana, Hroma, who Hudson coach Julie Heise labeled an "assistant coach," worked with the others to reduce their times.

The Land O'Lakes boys did not have any district champions, but placed third at the 2A-5 meet. Chris Obara, Craig Hilgenberg, Adam Yanchunis, Travis Moore and Ben Schultz teamed up on two runner-up relay teams (200 medley and 400 free).

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