Belen Jesuit senior swimmer Boleck De Pawlikowski literally saved his best for the final race of high school career.
De Pawlikowski anchored the 400-freestyle relay team, which edged Venice by two hundredths of a second and helped Belen Jesuit claim its second consecutive state title in the Class 3A finals at the Sailfish Sunsplash Aquatic Athletic Center on Friday.
Belen Jesuit finished with 249 points, nine more than second-place Gainesville. Belen had to win the 400 relay — the final race of the day — to win the state title.
“We all knew it was going to be a tough challenge. We had a very close meet, and we took it upon ourselves to step up,” said De Pawlikowski, who also won the 100 back and was fourth in the 500 free. “I’m very happy we won states; it was a big goal for me and for the team.
“I was trying not to think about finishing first, just going fast. Whatever the outcome, I was going to be happy, but my teammates gave me a great start, and I had enough left win it.”
This was the seventh state championship for Belen Jesuit, but it never had the state meet go down to the final race before. The relay team of Ryan Guso, Juan PerezCosta, Alejandro Carriazo and De Pawlikowski finished with a time of 3:09.55. De Pawlikowski had a slight lead on Venice’s Peyton Leeson on the final leg and was able to hold on during the 25 yards.
“That was incredible,” Belen Jesuit coach Kirk Peppas said. “I just told the boys they had to get together, get the relay starts perfect and they did it. This was a big one. This was tough. They got fired up, and I’m really happy for them. It was all about how they executed and how they got their minds set.”
Belen Jesuit’s relay teams also won the 200 medley and were second in the 200 free. Individually, Guso finished third in the 50 free and Carriazo was third in the 100 fly.
While the 400-free relay was tight, De Pawlikowski was dominant in the 100 back. He finished in 50.13 seconds, more than two seconds faster than second place Eric Erlenmeyer of Lakewood Ranch. It was the first individual state tile for De Pawlikowski.
“No matter what, there’s always competition, so I just keep on pushing hard,” he said. “You never know what’s going to happen. This is great, my senior year and I finally got the win.”
Mater Academy freshman Julio Horrego overcame a slow start to finish second in the 100 breast with a time of 58.21 seconds. Sebastian River’s Andrew Wojcik won the event in 56.77 seconds.
“My first 50 was kind of weak, but I knew my second 50 would be stronger,” Horrego said. “I tried my best, I was pulling for my life, and it came out good for me. I was a little nervous before the race because I thought I wasn’t going to do good, but the results, my training, it worked.”
Fort Lauderdale sophomore Raphael Marcoux was fourth in the 50 free with a person-best time of 21.20 seconds.
Results• Boys’ Team Scores: 1. Belen Jesuit 249, 2. Gainesville240, 3. Venice 165, 4. Lakewood Ranch 159, 5. Sebastian River 124, 15. Fort Lauderdale 53, 19. Mater Academy 45, 26. Terra Institute 22, 36. American 8, 40. Pembroke Pines Charter 6
• Girls’ Team Scores: 1. Chiles 250, 2. Gulf Coast 220, 3. Niceville 144, 4. Osceola 132, 5. Northeast 121, 15. Fort Lauderdale 53, 37. American 7, T39. Terra Institute 4, 45. Pembroke Pines Charter 1