By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
PUNTA GORDA – It was a shame that Barron Collier and Cape Coral had to come all the way to the South County Regional Pool on Saturday for the Charlotte Mini-Invite only to end up swimming just slightly more than half the meet.
But it was a great learning experience for the local teams, host Charlotte and Port Charlotte, both of which have many young swimmers who continued their improvement on a wet dreary day until lightning put an end to things just after the girls 500-yard freestyle.
That’s not say their trip was a waste, Collier did win the girls division easily with 376 points. Cape Coral finished second with 255 and Charlotte, with a smaller team, was third with 230, just edging out Port Charlotte at 224.
Cape Coral won the boys with 305 points. Charlotte was second with 239.5 with Cape Coral third. Port Charlotte was last with 83.
Among the area swimmers who excelled, Dylan Hacker won the 200-yard individual medley with a time of 2:00.06, just edging out Steven Rua of Cape Coral by four-one-hundredth of a second. Teammate Joshua Eaton won the 50-yard freestyle with a 23.19 time, while Carl Eisen won the 100 freestyle at 52.56 seconds.
Micah Barnes was the lone Charlotte girl to win. She took the 500 freestyle just before the lightning alarm went off. Her time was 5:30.56.
Charlotte coach Jeff Cain thought his team’s second meet went quite well after holding a huge practice before the meet, adding that despite not having the numbers from past years, they’ve been making better progress.
“The kids are learning, they’re improving and that’s what we want from them this year,” Cain said. “We’re a little ahead of where we were last year. We’re already bettering our times from the best times from last year.”
Port Charlotte did not win any events, but got some solid swims from several of its veterans. Lucabella Romero was third in the 200 freestyle, while Tonirae Burke took second in the 100 free and third in the 500 free.
Coach J.R. Whaley said his team is loaded with young, inexperienced talent. The key will be to take those numbers and hope they develop enough as the season progresses to score points once the postseason comes around.
“We had a lot of DQs today. We have a very young, very large team. A lot of kids joined within the last week. We have a lot of learning to do, we didn’t care about how we did time wise,” Whaley said. “We came to get some times on them for later in the season.”
CHARLOTTE MINI INVITE
At South County Regional Park
BARRON COLLIER 376, CAPE CORAL 255, CHARLOTTE 230, PORT CHARLOTTE 224
200 medley relay: 1. Barron Collier (Rylie Noe, Molly Heslin, Zoe Hendrickx, Maquinn Havig) 2:01.39, 2. Charlotte 2:01.61, 3. Port Charlotte 2:11.62; 200 freestyle: 1. Rylie Noe (BC) 2:07.18, 2. Isabella Marsala (BC) 2:08.37, 3. Lucibella Romero (PC) 2:15.55; 200 IM: 1. Nicole Rodriguez (CC) 2:20.51, 2. Zoe Hendrickx 2:20.81, 3. Karys Nelson (CHS) 2:30.92; 50 freestyle: 1. Lexy Maulsby (BC) 26.70, 2. Grace Eaton (CHS) 28.17, 3. Hannah Jeleniowski (CC) 28.48; 1-meter dive: 1. Lilly Metsch (BC) 179.15, 2. Brooke Sowerwine (BC) 159.55, 3. Avery McBee (CHS) 152.60; 100 butterfly: 1. Nicole Rodriguez (CC) 1:02.86, 2. Maquinn Havig (BC) 1:03.33, 3. Karys Nelson (CHS) 1:06.18; 100 freestyle: 1. Lexy Maulsby (BC) 57.77, 2. Tonirae Burke (PC) 1:01.68, 3. Kayla Berry (BC) 1:03.47; 500 freestyle: 1. Micah Barnes (CHS) 5:30.56, 2. Rylie Noe (BC) 5:39.57, 3. Tonirae Burke (PC) 5:50.72.
CAPE CORAL 305, CHARLOTTE 239.5, BARRON COLLIER 224.5, PORT CHARLOTTE 83
200 medley relay: 1. Cape Coral (Santi Rosas, Steven Rua, Jack Pellegrino, Martin Vasquez) 1:45.65, 2. Charlotte 1:45.86, 3. Barron Collier 1:45.93; 200 freestyle: 1. Mason Laur (BC) 1:52.44, 2. Oscar Madsen (BC) 1:53.17, 3. Casey Keller (CHS) 1:57.52; 200 IM: 1. Dylan Hacker (CHS) 2:00.06, 2. Steven Rua (CC) 2:00.10, 3. Jack Pellegrino (CC) 2:05.62; 50 freestyle: 1. Joshua Eaton (CHS) 23.19, 2. Jacob Connor (BC) 24.51, 3. Santi Rosas (CC) 24.92; 1-meter dive: 1. (Peter Learned (BC) 126.35; 100 butterfly: 1. Jack Pelligrino (CC) 56.17, 2. Andrew Garner (BC) 57.08, 3. Tyler Coward (CHS) 1:03.58; 100 freestyle: 1. Carl Eisen (CHS) 52.56, 2. Jacob Connor (BC) 54.38, 3. Joseph Farrugia (CC) 55.84.