Buchholz swept the boys and girls team titles Saturday at the Rob Ramirez City Swim Meet at Northeast Pool for the second straight year.
It was no cakewalk this year. In the girls team competition, P.K. Yonge junior Lillie Nesty and senior Gwen Shahboz were high point scorers collecting two wins and swimming legs on two winning relays as the Blue Wave won nine of the 12 events.
Despite the narrow loss, Nesty felt it was a win for the Blue Wave as she won the 200-yard freestyle and 100 backstroke events.
“We definitely had a good chance of winning,” she said. “We all swam our absolute hardest and I think that overall, we are the swimming champions. Our whole team did fantastic. We all swam so, so hard, and I’m proud of everyone.”
For Shahboz, the meet was a special one. She’s been swimming since the sixth grade for the Blue Wave and is looking forward to closing out her senior year strong.
“I just remember my first meet in the sixth grade at PK. It’s like it was just yesterday and it’s crazy being a senior right now,” said Shahboz who committed to Tulane to swim. “Honestly, today gave me a lot of confidence. I’ve been training hard this summer but did not have the results I wanted. In practice, I think I had a change in mindset at the start of the season. And I think it’s going to pay off.”
But Buchholz’s depth was too much for the Blue Wave. The Bobcats collected 48 points in the diving event to zero points for the Blue Wave and amassed points in every event to offset the Blue Wave winning the individual events.
Buchholz’s senior trio of captains Molly Brooks, Paola Monge and Morgan Smith were elated with the team win. All three have never lost a city championship in their high school careers.
“Coming in freshman year I didn’t know what to expect but I’m so glad I stuck with it,” said Smith who contributed to the Bobcats’ 474 points to P.K.’s 455. “This is our fourth year winning and I couldn’t be happier.”
Brooks echoed her teammates’ enthusiasm but added that the win was an inspired group effort.
“I think morale was a big thing to have during the meet because we knew what we were competing against PK who has a really good team and has really strong relays,” she said. “Everybody really had to step up, so cheering behind the blocks and kind of motivating each other was a big deal.”
The boys team title race mirrored the girls title chase. Gainesville sophomore William Sammy and junior Michael Mullen won two individual events and swam on the Hurricanes’ two winning relays, but it wasn’t enough as the Bobcats won, 436-374.
“The other teams definitely had a bit more depth than us, but I think it was still a great meet for us overall,” said Sammy, who won the 100 freestyle and the 100 backstroke. “I think we really, capitalized on what we could do overall.”
Mullen, a Bolles (Jacksonville) transfer, moved to Gainesville this year to be closer to his brother who started school at UF. He was excited to have competed in his first city meet but thinks he could have performed better.
“It feels great, I love the energy going in these other meets,” said Mullen, who won the 200 IM and the 100 breaststroke. “I wanted to go a little bit faster and I think my breaststroke was a little bit off today, but I can’t say it was bad.”
The Bobcats got their lone win from junior Landen Culleton in the 500 freestyle and inched away from the field as they collected places in every event as the meet wore on.
For Bobcat senior captain Luke Pinter, the win was hard fought and took a lot of cheering and great effort from everyone.
“It wasn’t really one thing,” Pinter said. “It was just kind of the whole day. We’re just trying to hype everyone up and trying to make sure that we could get them to keep their spirit up to win this meet. We needed that team spirit in the midst of the collective effort to want to win this meet. Everyone performed exactly as they needed to do to win, which was really great.”
Also, of note, there were two other double winners at the meet. Eastside senior Hannah Ahn and P.K. Yonge senior Joseph Pyon collected wins in the 50 freestyle and the 100 butterfly.
200 Medley Relay
1. PKY 1 minute, 51.97seconds Lillie Nesty, Gwen Shahboz, Tara McGoven, Abbie McGovern
1. GHS 1:40.44 Will Sammy, Michael Mullen, Casey Whitaker, Jackson O’Neill
1. Lillie Nesty, PKY, 1:52.85
1. Joseph Songayab, Eastside, 1:46.60
200 Individual Medley (IM)
1. Gwen Shahboz, PKY, 2:08.50
1. Michael Mullen, GHS, 1:52.91
1. Hannah Ahn, Eastside, 24.98
1.Joseph Pyon, PKY, 21.58
1. Hannah Ahn, Eastside, 56.03
1. Joseph Pyon, PKY, 51.12
1. Abbie McGovern, PKY, 55.96
1. William Sammy, PKY, 48.58
1. Alessandra Quintana, PKY, 5:21.84
1. Landen Culleton, Buchholz, 5:04.62
1. PKY, 1:43.80 Talia Herron, Abbie McGovern, Tara McGovern, Alessandra Quintana
1. GHS, 1:31.00 Michael Mullen, Will Sammy, Casey Whitaker, Jackson O’Neill
1.Lillie Nesty, PKY, 56.63
1. Will Sammy, GHS, 55.07
1. Gwen Shahboz, PKY, 1:06.18
1. Michael Mullen, GHS, 58.91
400 Freestyle Relay
1. PKY, 3:42.81 Alessandra Quintana, Talia Herron, Gwen Shahboz, Lillie Nesty
1. Eastside, 3:21.94 Eric Gong, David Lee, Abraham Burangulov, Joseph Songayab