STUART – Westlake Prep senior Raiz Tjon-A-Joe made the most of his only chance to swim in a Class 1A state finals.
The Davie resident, who came to the United States rom Suriname three years ago, won gold in the 50-yard freestyle and silver in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Tjon-A-Joe was one of several South Florida swimmers who came home with hardware hanging around their necks.
In team standings, Jacksonville-Bolles won its 28th consecutive boys title and 25th consecutive girls title.
In the girls team standings, Pine Crest was fourth Westminster Academy was eighth, Ransom Everglades was 10th and University School 12th.
In the boys team standings, Pine Crest was second, University was seventh and Ransom was 11th.
As usual, South Florida athletes In the diving competition earlier Friday, University School eighth-grader Maia Goldstein edged out Westminster sophomore Johan Holloway by about six points to win the girls title.
Pine Crest took four of the five top spots in the boys diving, led by three-time champion Austin Fields, a senior who outpointed Coral Shores senior Miles Miller 557.20 to 485.55.
Led by Tjon-A-Joe, Westlake finished 10th in boys team standings in the first year the 22-year-old Davie school had a swim team.
Tjon-A-Joe said that even though he swam a personal best in the 50 freestyle preliminary race to earn the first seed in the finas, he was concerned that other swimmers might have saved their best for the finals.
“It feels good,” Tjon-A-Joe said. “You put it a lot of work and achieve your goal, you get a feeling of accomplishment.”
In her fifth state meet going back to sixth grade, Westminster sophomore Jessie Nava won her first gold in the 100-yard butterfly, beating her personal best by three-tenths of a second.
“I’ve been really working on my underwater this season and my breakouts, so that really helped me,” Nava said.
Ransom junior Kyla Valls beat her personal best by almost two seconds to claim her first individual gold in her fourth state meet. Valls won the 200-yard freestyle and took silver in the 100 freestyle.
Valls said she broke her personal best in the 200 free with a strong first lap, then led the rest of the way.
“This year I had a better mentality,” Valls said. “Last year, I was really, really nervous.”
University School sophomore Patrick Groters won his first individual gold, finishing first in the 200-yard individual medley.
Groters won a bronze last year in the 500-yard freestyle, but worked hard since then to improve his other strokes.
He said bettering his butterfly was the toughest “because I never really liked it, but in practice my coach made me work on that the hardest.”