Ballestas’ freestyle wins propel Belen Jesuit


Julian Ballestas won both the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle races to help the Wolverines top Palmetto on Saturday.

Special to The Miami Herald

With six weeks until a shot at redemption at the Class 2A swimming and diving finals in Orlando, Belen Jesuit’s team cruised at the Dade County Youth Fair swimming meet Saturday at Tamiami Pool.

Led by Julian Ballestas, who won both the 100-yard and 200-yard freestyle, the Wolverines captured the team victory by 90 points over Palmetto.

Boleck De Pawlikowski finished first in the 100-yard backstroke for the other Belen individual title.

The Wolverines also took top times in all three medleys.

“You just talk to the coaches and try to do your best and see what happens,” Ballestas said. “I set a goal time and I try to work on my technique in the event.

“I try my hardest and if it all works out I can get my goal time.”

Last year, Gainesville snapped Belen’s streak of five consecutive state titles. The Wolverines placed fourth.

Ballestas said the pressure is on to return to that level with the same team back, “except now we’re older.”

“We’re really in a good spot early in the season,” head coach Kirk Peppas said. “This is a good test for the kids to see where they are right now.

“We’re hoping to be back up there in the top three instead of the top seven. That was a fantastic group of boys that came through. It’s going to be hard to repeat.”

Not only did the Ransom Everglades girls’ team put two swimmers in the finals of each individual event, but it also swept the three medleys en route to a 90.5-point win over Reagan.

According to head coach Andy DeAngulo, the Raiders have won the meet seven years in a row.

Laine Morgan and Annie Valls picked up the team’s individual titles in the 100-yard backstroke and 100-yard breaststroke, respectively.

“They swam great,” DeAngulo said. “We’ve got a strong team, very deep. I was very pleased with Annie Valls’ 100 breaststroke. They’re working really, really hard, so we’re tired. For the midseason point we’re excited for what we can do at the end of the year.”

DeAngulo believes the team is strong enough to repeat as District 12-1A champion and push for a top-three finish at state in November.

“If we swim the perfect meet I think we have a chance to be second,” DeAngulo said. “We’ve just got to keep working and rest and hope we can go really fast.”

Three others aside from Ballestas – Reagan’s Isabella Paez and Arianna Noya as well as St. Brendan’s Wayne Denswil – took a pair of individual titles.

Early on, Reagan’s girls won three of the first four individual finals.

Overall, 500 swimmers competed on Saturday, up by 200 from last year.

“Dade County, I call it the Michael Phelps Syndrome,” Peppas said. “Now we have a lot of youngsters that came out and we won’t see them for a little bit, but then they’ll start to show up. With all our new facilities at Ransom and Gulliver it’s really going to help pull up the system and make it stronger.”


• Boys’ team score: 1. Belen Jesuit 170; 2. Palmetto 80; 3. Columbus 50; 4. St. Brendan 45; 5. Reagan 37; 6. Sunset 26; 7. Coral Gables 22; 8. Coral Reef 17; 9. Doral 16; 10. Ransom Everglades 11.

•  Girls’ team score: 1. Ransom Everglades 167.5; 2. Reagan 77; 3. Palmetto 55; 4. Westminster Christian 48.5; 5. LaSalle 41; 5. Coral Reef 41; 7. Carrollton 37; 8. St. Brendan 19; 9. Doral 15; 10. Terra 10.

•  Boys’ individual winners – 200 medley relay: Belen Jesuit 1:40.30; 200 free: Julian Ballestas (BJES) 1:40.90; 200 IM: Juan Olano (SUN) 1:57.08; 50 free: Zuhayr Pigot (SBRN) 22.19; 100 fly: Wayne Denswil (SBRN) 52.62; 100 free: Julian Ballestas (BJES) 47.45; 500 free: Derek Chait (PAL) 4:43.62; 200 free relay: Belen Jesuit 1:30.34; 100 back: Boleck De Pawlikowski (BJES) 53.39; 100 breast: Wayne Denswil (STB) 1:00.46; 400 free relay: Belen Jesuit 3:18.47.

•  Girls’ individual winners – 200 medley relay: Ransom Everglades1:51.72; 200 free: Isabella Paez (REAG) 1:54.00; 200 IM: Arianna Noya (REAG) 2:11.65; 50 free: Carla Robles (CR) 25.15; 100 fly: Isabella Paez (REAG) 56.57; 100 free: Evita Leter (SBRN) 54.38; 500 free: Arianna Noya (REAG) 5:10.18; 200 free relay: Ransom Everglades 1:42.75; 100 back: Laine Morgan (RE) 1:02.51; 100 breast: Annie Valls (RE) 1:04.97; 400 free relay: Ransom Everglades 3:44.97.

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