As the announcer prepared to reveal the team district champions for Class 2A-District 5, Land O' Lakes coaches Robin Hilgenberg and Barbara Hayes stood along the pool's edge ready to jump as they awaited to hear their team's name announced.
The Gators moments later would be named district champions and Hayes, who is in her final year of coaching after nearly two decades of leading the Land O' Lakes boys team, took one last plunge into the Long Center pool. Land O' Lakes beat Mitchell 501-346 on the girls side and Lecanto 380-309 on the boys, taking center stage Thursday evening.
"It's been an incredible run for me," Hayes said. "I can't tell you how much I'll miss this. Coaching has meant a lot to me. We're not done yet. We're going to cherish this win and move on to next week."
Mitchell's Devin McCaffrey impressed once again at the Long Center, as the returning state champion notched victories in the 100 butterfly (49.90 seconds) and the 100 breaststroke (1:00.18). Mustangs freshman Kevin Smith took the 100 backstroke in 55.76 and Land O' Lakes' Cam Hilgenberg broke the school record in the 50 freestyle with a time of 21.96.
"Mitchell is becoming a very good team," Hilgenberg said. "I'm just so proud of the kids. We want to do well in regionals and move several kids to states this season. This is one of my hardest working teams I've had."
On the girls side, many stood out and will be moving on to regional, including Mitchell's Taylor Anderson, who won the 50 (24.49) and 100 freestyles (55.45), while Land O' Lakes' Jocelyn Williams took the breaststroke in 1:11.79.
Team scores: 1. Land O' Lakes (LOL) 501 , 2. Mitchell (MIT) 346, 3. Sunlake (SL) 328, 4T. Spring Hill Springstead (SPRG) 162, 4T. Gulf (G) 162, 6. Brooksville Hernando (H) 130, 7. Tavares (T) 123, 8. Lecanto (LEC) 119, 9. Pasco (P) 112, 10. Zephyrhills (Z) 66, 11. River Ridge (RR) 64, 12. Brooksville Nature Coast (NCT) 46, 13. Wesley Chapel (WC) 32, 14. Brooksville Central (C) 8.
Team scores: 1. Land O' Lakes (LOL) 380, 2. Lecanto (LEC) 309, 3. Sunlake (SL) 277, 4. Mitchell (MIT) 248, 5. River Ridge (RR) 192, 6. Spring Hill Springstead (SPRG) 178.5, 7. Wesley Chapel (WC) 145.5, 8. Brooksville Nature Coast (NCT) 114, 9. Pasco (P) 112, 10. Brooksville Central (C) 69, 11. Tavares (T) 61, 12. Zephyrhills (Z) 39, 13. Gulf (G) 36, 14. Brooksville Hernando (H) 35.