GAINESVILLE - Clay High senior swimmer Sara Stotler and Orange Park High’s Jose Medina lived up to their top billing coming out of the district round of swimming championships with both earning top …
GAINESVILLE - Clay High senior swimmer Sara Stotler and Orange Park High’s Jose Medina lived up to their top billing coming out of the district round of swimming championships with both earning top 10 state ranks and even a number one rank for Stotler in the 100 butterfly.
For Orange Park High senior sprinter Jose Medina, his 200 free region title in 1:46.72 was fast enough to win the title, but only gets him a sixth place ranking going to the Class 2A championships on Saturday.
Clay coach Carol McDougall is confident in her senior standout.
“Sara should have been first in both of her events last year,” said Clay coach Carol McDougall. “We got all the relays to finals last year.”
Stotler, second in both events last year, including second to the same swimmer; sophomore Julia Podkoscielny of Pine Crest, in the state rankings prior to Saturday’s championship rematch. Podkoscielny, the top region finisher in one minute, 59 seconds flat last week, is just ahead of Stotler’s 2:05.29 split in Gainesville last week at the region 1-2A championship.
“She hasn’t had the same amount of high-powered meets as she did last year,” said McDougall. “She has been swimming other events this year. That makes a big difference. Racing is racing.”
One of McDougall’s big absences is backstroker and relay member Kinsey Williamson, who injured a shoulder near the end of the season.
“Our 200 medley and free relays are both full of those seniors; Sara, Elysia Addison, Jayda Dillevig and Kinsey,” said McDougall. “We will have junior Marley Meyers as the fourth”
Despite the loss of Williamson, McDougall’s 200 medley relay team, third last year, finished second at regions and earned a ninth place ranking.
“That’s double team points,” said McDougall, with Clay’s girls finishing 10th in 2A.
At her region meet, Stotler was unchallenged in the 200IM with second place a distant five seconds behind her; Keely Stevenson of Arnold. Stevenson is ranked sixth in Class 2A.
With third place at region a 2:07.60, Stotler and Podkoscielny should be the two heavy favorites to showdown in Stuart.
In the 2019 final. Stotler blasted the start with a 56.16 first 100 to Podkoscielny’s 56.90, but Podkoscielny made up time in the breaststroke leg of the event to take the lead and the eventual gold medal. Stotler came back in the freestyle final leg but could not close the gap.
In 2020, Podkoscielny is the top rank in the backstroke with nearly five seconds on the second ranked swimmer and that could neutralize a fast start from Stotler.
Stotler, though, is top ranked in the butterfly, the second leg of the medley and that will play into a great first half of the race and a probable close finish again at the final wall.
For Medina, seeing south Florida speed will be the key to his efforts in Stuart with top ranked Elliot Weisel of Rockledge, seventh last year in 1:44.45, first in an astounding 1:41.57. Medina was not in the two finals last year with his 1:47.35 getting 19th behind teammate Daniel Hinkle.
In the 100 free, Medina’s 49.61 was good enough for third in the region, but amazingly, the top times in the state stretch down to 46.38. Medina is ranked 18th.
For Orange Park, Ryan Pritchard is ranked 20th in 200IM and 16th in the 100 breaststroke with teammate Jalen Randall 12th ranked in breaststroke at 1:01.70. Top time is 57.03 for 100 breaststroke.
Clay’s Elysia Addison returns in the 100 breaststroke; ranked 14th.
For relays, Orange Park’s boys are 10th ranked in the 200 free relay at 1:33.24 with Clay’s girls 200 medley relay ranked ninth with a 1:54.77 with Pine Crest on top at 1:45.75. Clay’s 200 free relay girls are ranked 12th.
Ridgeview High backstroker Gage Quigley was the Panthers top choice to make the state meet with an 11th place in the 100 backstroke at regions in 58.59, but the final selection to regions went to 57.82.