STUART — Two defending state champs from Hillsborough County — Plant’s Ally Donahue and Newsome’s Maddie Hess — absolutely, positively dropped the hammer on the rest of the state at Saturday’s Class 4A state swim meet.
Hess led the gold-medal haul with individual victories in the 100 free (50.35 seconds) and 100 backstroke (54.38), and helped the 200 free relay to victory as well in 1:35.48. Donahue won the 50 free in 23.60 and blistered the field in the 100 backstroke, taking the final in 1:02.50.
Hess and Donahue also helped their teammates — Hess in the 400 free relay (3:31.10) and Donahue in the 200 medley relay (1:47.34) — to third-place finishes.
Both of them said things couldn’t have gone much better.
“Mentally, I felt I was a lot stronger this year,” said Donahue, who missed setting a state record in the 100 breast by .24 seconds with a preliminary time of 1:01.97. “It was a little nerve-racking before (this week’s taper) because I didn’t really feel the best. But after the taper I felt great.”
Hess, who improved both her state-winning times by .6 seconds, said she improved this year with more speed work and technique in general.
“I fine-tuned a few things,” said Hess, who like Donahue is only a junior. “It’s worked out really well.”
Just behind Donahue and Hess’ performances among Hillsborough County competitors was Wharton’s Dee Sopapong, who finished as a runner-up to Donahue in the 100 breast (1:04.40) and was third in the 200 IM (2:04.57).
Other top-eight finishers from Hillsborough County included:
Newsome’s Wes McGovern in the 500 free (third, 4:29.93) and the 100 backstroke (third, 51.07).
Newsome’s Allyson Nied in diving (third, 424.30 points).
Plant’s Kyle Kimura in the 200 free (fourth, 1:40.58) and the 100 butterfly (fourth, 50.62).
Plant’s Reid Fleming in diving (fourth, 427.25 points).
Plant’s Max Jenkins in diving (fifth, 405.80 points).
Newsome’s boys in the 200 medley relay (fourth, 1:37.77).
Plant’s Sydney Power in diving (sixth, 407.80 points).
Plant’s Dylan Power in diving (seventh, 399.95 points).
Overall, the medal haul was tremendous for Hillsborough and Pinellas counties, which combined to win 16 individual and relay titles. Pinellas had 11 of its own.
East Lake’s Alexandra Atchison had the best night from the Bay area, winning the 200 free (1:47.52), the 500 free (4:47.82) and helping the 200 medley relay (1:47.03) and the 400 free relay (3:27.56) to victories as well.
In the team races, Palm Harbor University’s boys won their third title in six years with 276 points and Sarasota Riverview won its fourth straight girls title with 209.
Newsome’s girls placed best as a team among Hillsborough County competitors in sixth place with 133.5. Plant was ninth with 99.
On the boys side, Plant led Hillsborough County in 10th place with 82 points.