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PHU has great night, taking fourth place

3A GIRLS

If Palm Harbor University wanted to nit-pick, it could, just a little. But there was no getting around the bottom line.

This was an all-time great night for the Hurricanes.

PHU's girls completed a season of dominance with a school-best fourth-place finish Thursday. Gainesville Buchholz won with 254.50 points, PHU collected 179 and eighth-place Seminole had 134.50 at the Hall of Fame Aquatic Complex.

PHU began its night with a bit of a shock. Its outstanding 200-yard medley relay failed to win for the first time all season. Colleen Bauza, Jessica Deng, Candace Thornburg and Brittany Nauta finished second in 1 minute, 50.38 seconds, .04 of a second behind Boca Raton.

Coach Lisa Bitting had a hard time lamenting the result, however, considering her all-underclassman foursome was the youngest of the 40 medley relay teams.

"Of course we all wanted to win, but certainly I can't be too disappointed with freshmen and sophomores going their best time," Bitting said.

Deng a sophomore, led PHU with a fourth-place finish in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.09) and a seventh in the 200 individual medley (2:10.16).

"I really expected to go under 1:06 (in the breaststroke), but that's okay," Deng said. "I have another chance next year."

Teammate Caitlin Warner added two finals appearances, finishing fourth in the 500 freestyle and sixth in the 200 free. Pinellas Park sophomore Ashley Gorman also had a fine meet, finishing fourth in the 100 butterfly and fifth in the 50 free.

Seminole enjoyed a number of fine performances, starting with Katie Metka setting school records in the 50 and 100 free in the preliminaries. She also swam on a second-place 200 free relay and a fourth-place 400 free relay.

Clearwater senior Kaila Johnston finished 11th in the afternoon diving competition.

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