Gulliver won its first team state swimming and diving championship last year and became the first school in Miami-Dade County to do so in 42 years.
It looks likely was only the beginning for the Raiders. Led by seniors Kelly Fertel and Niki Urquidi, Gulliver returns a solid core of swimmers who should come home with another Class 2A state title.
Fertel and Urquidi each qualified to compete for the Olympic Trials this past summer and are two of the top returning swimmers overall in the state.
Fertel won a state championship in the 200-individual medley in 2014 and was part of Gulliver’s 400-meter freestyle state championship relay team last season as well.
Urquidi was also part of that state title relay along with Fertel, senior Namilla Sanchez and junior Alicia Mancilla. Urquidi finished fourth at state in the 500 freestyle and had the county’s fastest time.
Junior Brooke Ellis, another 200 IM swimmer, will once again be a pivotal part of Gulliver’s relay teams along with eighth-grader Andrea Santander. A versatile option, Santander will swim the sprint events as well.
Both Fertel and Urquidi qualified for the Olympic Trials at the USA Junior National Championships in San Antonio this past summer. Fertel qualified in the 400 IM and Urquidi in the 400 free. The Olympic Trrials are set for June 26-July 3, 2016 in Omaha, Nebraska.
Gulliver’s dominance isn’t confined to the girls’ side, however. The Raiders, coached by Jeff Poppell, who is entering his fourth year at Gulliver after coaching for 13 years at swimming juggernaut Jacksonville Bolles, also have a solid boys’ team.
Sophomore Miguel Cancel, who is competing at the World Youth Games in Singapore, is highly regarded as the top individual swimmer in the county this season. Cancel was a state runner-up last season in the 500 free and a fifth-place finisher in the 200 IM.
▪ Ransom Everglades will again field a strong team in Class 1A, which again will be led by Jacksonville Bolles — the winner of every boys’ state title in 1A since 1988 and girls’ title since 1991.
The Raiders graduated Laine Morgan (Georgetown) and Sofia Rivas (California-Berkeley). Sophomore Kyla Valls, another USA Olympic Trials qualifier, is primed for a huge season. Valls finished sixth at state in the 200 freestyle individually, and on Ransom’s 200-free relay, she helped the Raiders finish fourth.
Valls will be joined by junior Camryn Grussmark and senior Carlotta Verita on the team’s relays as well. Verita was a state qualifier in the 100 breaststroke.
▪ Belen should make a strong run at what would be its eighth state title in a decade. The Wolverines return the bulk of their squad, which is led by juniors Alejandro Carriazo, Max Garcia Del-Pozo and Daniel Simpson.
Aug. 26: Regular-season meets begin
Sept. 5: Gulliver Invitational
Sept. 19: Jacksonville Bolles Invitational
Oct. 8: GMAC championship at Miami-Dade College North
Oct. 10: Ransom Invitational
Oct. 17: Woodson Invitational
Oct. 19-24: Districts (Class 1A-2A)
Oct. 26-31: Districts (Class 3A-4A)
Oct. 26-31: Regionals (Class 1A-2A)
Nov. 2-7: Regionals (Class 3A-4A)
Nov. 6-7: State championships at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart (Classes 1A-2A)
Nov. 13-14: State championships at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart (Classes 3A-4A)
TOP RETURNING BOYS’ SWIMMERS/DIVERS
Miguel Cancel, Gulliver, So.
Alejandro Carriazo, Belen, Jr.
Che Davis, Dr. Krop, Sr.
Diego Faucher, Reagan, Jr.
Max Garcia Del-Pozo, Belen, Jr.
Julio Horrego, Mater Academy, Jr.
Julius Petzold, Miami Beach, Jr.
Javier Saumell, Belen, So.
Daniel Simpson, Belen, Jr.
Felipe Urrutia, Ransom, So.
TOP RETURNING GIRLS’ SWIMMERS/DIVERS
Brooke Ellis, Gulliver, Jr.
Kelly Fertel, Gulliver, Sr.
Camryn Grussmark, Ransom, Jr.
Alicia Mancilla, Gulliver, So.
Cecile Monnier, Coral Reef, So.
Jessica Rodriguez, Hialeah Gardens, Jr.
Namilla Sanchez, Gulliver, Sr.
Paloma Sanchez, La Salle, So.
Andrea Santander, Gulliver, Fr.
Niki Urquidi, Gulliver, Sr.
Kyla Valls, Ransom, Jr.
Carlota Verita, Ransom, Sr.
BOYS’ SEASON OUTLOOKS
COLUMBUS (Coach Alex Alfonso, 6th year at COL, 11th overall, 44-4). Last year: 10-0 (District champions). Top swimmers: Brandon Vives, So.; Fernando Rodriguez, So.
DR. KROP (Coach John Turnipseed, 1st year at KR, 31st overall). Last year: 6-2. Top swimmers: Che Davis, Sr.
SOUTH DADE (Coach Sue Hinton, 35th year). Last year: 4-2. Top swimmers: Zac Graves, Jr.; Alejando Gonzalez, So.; Calvin Frederick, Jr.; Santiago Calle, So.; Michael Jacquez, Jr.; Robert Trujillo, Jr.
BELEN (Coach Kirk Peppas). Last year: State runner-up. Top swimmers: Alejandro Carriazo, Jr.; Max Garcia Del-Pozo, Jr.; Daniel Simpson, Jr.
MATER ACADEMY (Coach Alejandro Mejia, 7th year). Last year: 3-3. Top swimmers: Julio Horriego, Jr.; Jose Llanio, Sr.; Alfredo Mesa.
TERRA (Coach Marly Zea, 3rd year at Terra, 15th overall). Last year: 7-3. Top swimmers: Connor Acosta, Jr.; Alejandro DeLaTorre, So.; Donald Groh, So.
GOLEMAN (Coach Kathy Webb, 10th year, 56-25). Last year: 10-2. Top swimmers: Cesar Vera, Jr.; Emyl Marinez, Sr.; Raul Debesa, So.; Chris Perez, Sr.; Jalan Billingsley, Sr.; Pablo Lucero, Fr.
GULLIVER (Coach Jeff Poppell). Top swimmers: Miguel Cancel, So.
MOURNING (Coach Luke Schlehuber, 1st year). Last year: 4-4. Top swimmers: Camilo Arabia, Sr.; Daniel Scotese, Sr.; Roger Cajete, Jr.; Gabriel Gonzalez, Jr.; Ryan Chierico, Jr.
LA SALLE (Coach Aimee Cerdeiras, 12th year). Last year: N/A. Top swimmers: Francisco Beron-Vera, So.
MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Eric Scheingoltz, 1st year). Last year: 6-5. Top swimmers: Demetri Spiliotis, Sr.; Alexis Goya, Jr.; Alessandro Marchesani, Jr.; Jonathan Abramowitz, Jr.; David Abrante, Jr.; Sam Smith, Jr.
RANSOM EVERGLADES (Coach Andy De Angulo, 18th year). Last year: 8-1-2 (District champions). Top swimmers: Felipe Urrutia, So.; Matias Junghahn, Jr.; Jason Gould, Jr.; Paul Kalandiak, Jr.
RIVIERA PREP (Coach Peter Prins, 5th year at RP, 27th overall). Last year: 3-3. Top swimmers: Sean Arrington, Sr.; Jack Cuddity, Sr.; Brandon Espinosa, Sr.
GIRLS’ SEASON OUTLOOKS
DR. KROP (Coach Lincing “Jackie” Hernandez, 6th year). Last year: 6-2. Top swimmers: Amber Lubie, Sr.; Deborah Vainstein, Sr.; Vania Mishkin, Sr.
HIALEAH GARDENS (Coach Tom Binder, 8th year at HG, 17th overall). Last year: . Top swimmers: Jessica Rodriguez, Jr.; Jennifer Rodriguez, Fr.; Amy Alvarez, Fr.; Claudia Mendez, Jr.
SOUTH DADE (Coach Sue Hinton, 35th year). Last year: 5-1. Top swimmers: Daniella Filette, Jr.; Skyler Miranda, Jr.; Liz Martino, Sr.; Anyssa Verdin, Jr.; Sarah Stribling, Sr.; Brianna Powell, Sr.
MATER ACADEMY (Coach Denise Garcia, 3rd year). Last year: 4-1. Top swimmers: Liz Travieso, Sr.; Vanessa Mesa, Sr.; Ana Kontradovich, Sr.; Dayme Delgado, Sr.; Melanie Jimenez, Sr.
TERRA (Coach Katrina Nunez, 6th year). Last year: 5-5 (District champions). Top swimmers: Julia Talamo, Jr.; Sofia Rodriguez, Jr. Catarina Vale, Sr.; Cristina Vale, So.
GOLEMAN (Coach Patricia A. Hill, 7th year, 20-12). Last year: 8-3. Top swimmers: Delanie Perez, So.; Stephanie Camuerias, Sr.; Melanie Rodriguez, Jr.; Alemshet Alvarez, Jr.; Kelsey Ruano, Jr.; Simone Edwards, Jr.
GULLIVER (Coach Jeff Poppell). Last year: State champions. Top swimmers: Kelly Fertel, Sr.; Niki Urquidi, Sr.; Alicia Mancilla, So.; Namilla Sanchez, Sr.; Andrea Santander, Fr.
MOURNING (Coach Max Respondek, 2nd year). Last year: 5-4. Top swimmers: Nina Latorre, Jr.; Jamie Waxman, Sr.; .
LA SALLE (Coach Aimee Cerdeiras, 12th year). Last year: N/A. Top swimmers: Gabriela Antonini, Fr.; Paloma Sanchez, So.
MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Eric Scheingoltz, 1st year). Last year: 6-5. Top swimmers: Madisyn Jones, Sr.; Emma Rodriguez, Sr.; Amelia Gregorio, Jr.; Isabella Pedraza, Fr.; Gabriella Marchesani, 8th.
RANSOM EVERGLADES (Coach Andy De Angulo, 18th year). Last year: 16-2 (Sixth at state). Top swimmers: Kyla Valls, So.; Carlotta Verita, Jr.; Camryn Grussmark, So.
RIVIERA PREP (Coach Peter Prins, 5th year at RP, 27th overall). Last year: 3-3. Top swimmers: Erika Arvelo, Jr.; Victoria Ferrer, Fr.; Sarah Feiler, Fr.