By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
SARASOTA — Charlotte’s and Lemon Bay’s swimming teams gave it all they had at Saturday’s Tri-County Swim Meet.
But there was no overcoming the talent of Riverview, whose boys cruised to victory while the girls squeezed past Sarasota for the title.
Riverview’s boys won with a team score of 623, more than 300 points ahead of runner-up Venice (308.5), while the girls finished with 568, just in front of Sarasota’s 474.
Charlotte’s boys finished third with 203 while Lemon Bay’s boys were fifth 161.5. Lemon Bay’s girls also were fifth at 109, one point ahead of Charlotte.
The highlight for the area came on the diving board courtesy of Charlotte’s Becca Parnell. Long after the Tarpons had boarded the bus to head home and the final diving results were calculated, it was revealed that Parnell finished with a score of 205.15 in the 1-meter dive, easily outdistancing her closest challenger.
The Tarpons were without multiple girls, who were out due to illness, which ultimately brought their team score down.
“We’re down like five girl swimmers right now from sickness so we’ve just got to go through it, improve and keep trying,” Charlotte coach Jeff Cain said. “I was over there just working on technique because we’re young. These are a lot of new time swimmers that have never seen this [big of a meet] before.”
Dylan Hacker led Charlotte’s boys with four top-five finishes. The sophomore placed third in the 100-yard breaststroke (1 minute, 3.20 seconds) and fifth in the 200 IM (2:05.73).
He also was part of the relay teams that placed fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:34.78) — which included Tom Nelson, Yahia E. El Hamshary and Blake Thurman — and fifth in the 400 free (3:28.34) — which included Copper Whitten, El Hamshary and Thurman.
“I felt like I went a little slower than usual but because of hard training and this time of the year you’re not really going to do very good because of taper,” Hacker said. “I was a little quick Tuesday (against Venice) but today I just felt a little off. It happens.”
Hunter Scott led the way for the Manta Rays girls, posting four top-seven finishes. The junior swam to a fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:57.95), a sixth in the 500 free (5:14.09) and two sevenths in the 200 medley relay (2:07.05) and the 200 free relay, along with Abby Shea, Ashley Wik and Margo McCoy.
Shea also placed seventh in the 50 free (27.09).
“(Scott) is pretty much right where she’s going to be,” Lemon Bay coach Dawn Hall said. “Her times are pretty much where we’d thought they’d be.”
Kevin Mayes placed second in the 1-meter dive (193.10) for Lemon Bay’s boys, while Evan Burger had four top-10 finishes. Burger swam to seventh in the 100 breaststroke (1:05.22) and ninth in the 100 free (52.39), and his relay team, which included Gage Denson, Jed Fazler and Zach Willson, finished seventh in the 200 medley (1:52.63) and ninth in the 400 free (3:38.08).
“We just talked about the last relay with the Riverview boys, their A-team and B-team got first and second against everyone else’s A teams,” Hall said. “They have Olympic trial qualifiers so this was much more difficult than districts.”
North Port’s boys finished 10th with a score of 68, led by Joshua Mendieta’s fourth-place finish in the 50 free (23.27) and seventh in the 200 free relay on a team that also consisted of Michael Sickles, Tristan Guin and Mackenzie Minchinton. The Bobcats girls were last in the 19-team field with two points.
Port Charlotte’s girls finished 17th with 10 points. The school’s boys did not participate.
CORRECTION: The original version of this story incorrectly stated Charlotte’s Becca Parnell broke a tri-county meet record with a score of 265.15. The story and headline now reflect the correct score for Parnell.