Sports Editor

Freshman Noah Maniace and sophomore Esteban Moran combined for seven conference titles and school relay record

OHS Maniace and Moran

Noah Maniace, left, and Esteban Moran combined to bring the Osceola boys swim team seven Orange Belt Conference championships and this, the team trophy, which the Kowboys won for the first time since 2005.

All-County Boys Swimming

Swimmers of the Year: Noah Maniace (OHS, Fr.), Esteban Moran (OHS, So.)

All-county team: Harmony: Austin Cabot, Hayden Bryant, Nathan Envall, Cole LaFountain, Alex Tanon, John Wallace, Caleb Plantner, Andres Torres. St. Cloud: Travis McCormick, Caleb Endicott. Osceola: David Denarski, Jose Beito, Jesus Machado. Celebration: Felipe Costa, Pedro Leite. Tohopekaliga: Christian Contreras.

Osceola’s boys swimming team won its first Orange Belt Conference meet back in October for the first time in over a decade.

Coach Krystle Bayliss can thank a youth movement.

Between freshman Noah Maniace and sophomore Esteban Moran, they helped lock down seven events at OBC, including the 400 meter freestyle relay, which the Kowboys had to win to take the meet as they trailed Celebration by one point going into that final event.

Moran, Jesus Machado, Jose Beato and finally Maniace waged a swim war with the Storm and won by just 1.6 seconds in 3:43.28.

“We were .4 seconds ahead when Noah went in the water,” Bayliss said.

They teamed up on the winning 200 free relay team as well. Maniace won the 50 and 100 freestyle (in a pretty racy 53.4 seconds) races, and Moran won the 200 individual medley.

For their efforts — both individual and teaming up on the relays — to bring the conference trophy back to Thacker Avenue since 2005, Maniace and Moran are this year’s Osceola News-Gazette Boys Co-Swimmers of the Year.

Why both of them? Because Bayless couldn’t decide who meant more to Osceola’s success.

“Noah carried the team when he was in the water himself, and Esteban was so big for our relay success,” she said. “But anything we needed done, they’d step up to do.”

Moran, who swam for the Kissimmee Swim Association for years (“The Bob Makinson Pool has been like a home away from home,” he said) before coming into the Kowboy program last year.

“I saw some slow increases this year,” the sophomore said. “It was a good year, that 400 relay at OBC was definitely the highlight of the year, definitely because we won it.”

Maniace had swam competitively for seven years before his solid freshman season.

“I thought it was a pretty good year. Coach Bayliss is a tough coach. She definitely pushed me past where I thought I could be this year.”

But there’s a fire within Maniace to compete; he nearly showed it to the team at the District 4A-4 meet at the YMCA Swim Center. Fighting a stomach bug, he still helped Moran, Jose Beato and David Denarski qualify for regionals in the 200 free relay, and then Jesus Machado came on board and they swam a school-record 1:36.88, breaking that 12-year-old mark despite missing the state meet by a couple tenths of a second.

“A lot of guys focus on their individual events and maybe don’t give the same effort in the relays, but Noah and Esteban go after it, and carried those relays on their backs,” Bayliss said. “Noah was the only swimmer to be part of four OBC titles this year, and despite being sick was still our fastest leg in that race.”

And she’s already excited for next year.

“I really think Esteban can compete in, and maybe win, any event in the county next year,” Bayliss said. “They both swim for the team, and they give us a chance again (to win the OBC boys trophy).”

Since they’ll be competing on their own through the school’s offseason, neither one said they’re thinking much about Maniace’s sophomore or Moran’s junior seasons — until asked the question a second time, and both of their faces lit up.

“I want to take the medley again, and I think I can go after the school butterfly record,” Moran said.

“I think I can reach the (OHS) 50 free record,” Maniace said.

Plus, the ink is still drying on those relay records.