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District swimming: Sarasota Riverview edges Palm Harbor University

Published Oct. 28, 2017

ST. PETERSBURG — Since 2013, Palm Harbor University's boys and girls swim teams have been unable to maintain their stranglehold on district team titles.

That is due to one key addition: Sarasota Riverview.

From 2006-13, the Rams' girls won seven of eight state team titles. Their boys team has won the past three state team titles.

The power shifted as soon as the two powerhouse swim programs were paired in the same district. Sarasota Riverview's girls ended the Hurricanes' eight-year reign as district champs in 2013 and have won every year since.

But the results have been close with three of the past four titles decided by 22 points or less.

None of them was as close as Saturday's meet.

PHU lost again — by 1.5 points.

"We would have had a great shot to win the girls title this season if everyone would have swam as projected," Hurricanes coach Lisa Bitting said. "I knew everyone was not as focused or tapered for this meet so there some variables. We just have to take that into consideration."

Palm Harbor University's did well in the relays. The 200 medley relay team of Hannah Hansen, Tara Cabiling, Stephanie Hernandez and Amber Shirley won in 1:51.82, and the 400 free relay team of Christina Neri, Ally Swan, Quinn Ragan and Alexis Flores-Hernandez was second in 3:38.78.

But the Hurricanes had no champions and only one third-place finish in individual events.

St. Petersburg's Kelly Harris won the 100 breast (1:07.09) and was on the 200 medley (1:52.65) and the 200 free (1:41.14) relay teams that finished third.

Countryside's Summer Osborne was second in both the 100 free (53.73) and 100 back (59.03).

The balance of power also has changed with the boys. In 2014, Sarasota Riverview's boys ended PHU's nine-year reign as district champions. The Rams have gone on to win three straight team titles.

The dominance continued Saturday as Sarasota Riverview outscored the Hurricanes 539-389.

"We knew Riverview was a great defending state champion," Bitting said. "The battle really was with Countryside for second place."

PHU's lone boys champion was Jakob Mowry in the 50 free (22.57).

Countryside's Robert Finke won the 200 individual medley (1:53.28) and the 500 free (4:28.63).

Teammates Joey Licht and Ryan Rosal also were champions.

Licht won the 100 back (52.08) and was second in the 200 IM (1:56.05). Rosal won the 100 breast (1:02.30). The three were on the 200 medley relay that took second in 1:39.78. Finke and Licht were also on the second-place 400 free relay team (3:15.81).

St. Petersburg's Lukas Cote took second in the 200 free (1:44.93) and third in the 100 back (53.77). He also was on the second-place 200 free relay (1:30.92) and the third-place 200 medley relay (1:52.65).