STUART — Academy of the Holy Names swimmers beamed as they hoisted the Class 2A state runnerup trophy Saturday night — the first time a Jaguars swim team had done so since 1976.
This trophy was greatly inspired by and dedicated to teammate Cailin Cannella, a seventh-grader who is battling osteosarcoma, a bone cancer that usually affects children.
Cannella had a full knee replacement this week. She is expected to go through an aggressive round of chemotherapy Friday to combat the cancer that has spread to her lungs.
Holy Names coach Bill Shaffer told Cannella the team would bring home a trophy.
"This was as much for Cailin as anyone else," said Shaffer, who in his 20 years has coached the Jaguars to a third-place finish and has barely missed out a few times on the runnerup hardware.
The Jaguars scored 159 points; Gulliver Prep won with 322. And the Jaguars scored all of their points without a single individual score in the top eight.
Instead, AHN stacked their three relays with Katie Taulbee, Sierra Wills, Bella Kirkpatrick, Lara Lontoc and Gabby Delp.
The Jaguars placed second in both the 200 free relay (one minute, 38.99 seconds) and 400 free relays (3:39.21) and took third in the 200 medley (1:51.05).
"We brought it together for Cailin," Taulbee said. "Before every race, we said, 'This is for Cailin.' "
Jesuit takes third: After finishing as the runnerup last year, Jesuit was supposed to be in rebuilding mode. But Jesuit was not far off the 2015 finish. The Tigers placed third with 220 points, five from Panama City Beach Arnold. Junior Sam Sands swam anchor legs on the winning 200 free relay (1:26.61), and the fourth-place 400 free relay (3:14.11). He was fourth in the 50 free (21.43) and fifth in the 100 free (47.50). Teammate Brendan Driscoll was third in the 500 free (4:32.05). The Tigers were third in the 200 medley relay (1:37.23).