Harmony sweeps Orange Belt Conference swimming

Shayla Whaley won the 200 freestyle for the Lady Longhorns. Photo/Martin Maddock

By Rick Pedone

Sports Editor

It was a shade too

Shayla Whaley won the 200 freestyle for the Lady Longhorns. Photo/Martin Maddock

close for comfort, but Harmony’s boys and girls again swept the Orange Belt Conference swimming championships Oct. 5 at the Makinson Aquatic Center.

The Lady Longhorns (158) held off a young and talented Gateway squad (132) and St. Cloud (123). Osceola (57), Celebration (41), Poinciana (12) and Liberty (6) followed.

The boys team (143) had a little more breathing room over tightly-bunched Celebration (92), Gateway (89), St. Cloud (87) and Osceola (84).

Winners for the Lady Longhorns were Shayla Whaley (200 free, 2:21), Saylor Durost (200 IM, 2:23.55; 100 back, 1:04), Savannah Steele (50 free, 26.60; 100 free, 57.86),

Harmony swept the relays. The 200 medley relay (1:59) had Saylor Durost, Skylar Durost, Steele and Elly Clark. The 200 free relay (1:54) won behind Clark, Olivia Templeton, Whaley and Kaley Smith. The 400 free relay (3:57) took gold with Clark, Steele, Saylor Durost and Skylar Durost.

Gateway’s Jenny Valido (1:01.5) won the 100 fly and 100 breaststroke (1:10).

St. Cloud’s Bailey Reich (6:09.44) won the 500 free and Kaylin White (217) won diving.

Gateway Coach Vonnie Kochensparger, who guided the boys to three straight OBC titles from 2013-15, said that her team competed well.

“We were hoping we could upset them since the girls won when we swam head to head. Harmony had a great meet and it seemed as if every time I thought we were going to close the gap, they made another surge,” she said. “I am pleased with the way the girls swam. We have several kids who stepped up at the meet and swam their best times.”

Kochensparger said that between her girls and boys, the team had 41 season’s best times at the meet.

Harmony’s boys winners were Mason Moore (50 free, 23.35), Joshua Yi (100 fly, 55.25; 100 back, 1:00.82) and Cezar Gainsca (100 free, 54.71).

The Longhorns won the 200 free relay (1:43) with Matthew Espinosa, Ty Avery, Austin Cabot and Josh Murray. They also won the 400 free (3:36) behind Gainsca, Avery, Mason Moore and Yi.

Harmony is coached by Trish Abell and T.J. Walters.

Walters said the team is talented and humble.

“We had a great group of kids this year. We wanted to be that team the cheered not just for ourselves but all the swimmers and divers at the meet,” he said. “We had a team that stayed humble and kind. This year’s team did more then win a meet. They were great role models, teammates, and they became a family to each-other.”

Osceola’s Alex McBride (2:04) won the 200 free and also the 500 free (5:35.07). Estaban Moran (2:20) took the 200 IM.

Celebration’s Ben Wheeler (1:09) won the breaststroke. The Storm claimed the 200 medley relay (1:52) with Luis Cunha, Wheeler, Luca LeHelley and Bryce Moore.

St. Cloud’s Sean Seery (212) was the diving champion.

Swimmers from Poinciana compete at the 2A-6 district meet Tuesday at Avon Park.

The county’s other programs wait until Oct. 25-26 for districts.