High School Sports

Gulliver, American Heritage swim to state titles

The Gulliver Prep girls ran away with the Class 2A state swimming championship Saturday night in Stuart although the boys team from American Heritage needed a win in the final race to claim the boys’ title.

Anchored by senior Julien Pinon in the 400-yard freestyle relay, American Heritage beat Tampa Jesuit by about five seconds for the gold in that race and its third consecutive team championship as the Patriots edged out Jesuit by 5 1/2 points.

Pinon, who went home with four gold and a silver medal, won his first individual golds with personal best times in the 200-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly. He also won a gold and a silver in relay races, plus another gold for the team title.

“It’s exactly what I wanted since my freshman year,” Pinon said of his final state meet. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. We had to race.”

American Heritage coach Nobutaka Tan said Pinon “is way ahead of everybody else we have, but he boosts the rest of the team.”

Gulliver seniors Niki Urquidi and Kelly Fretel also won two individual golds and two relay golds as Gulliver racked up 377 team points, more than double runner-up Panama City Beach Arnold’s 166.

Urquidi took first in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle races, while Fretel won the 100-yard breaststroke and the 200-yard individual medley.

“Having our team behind us was important,” Urquidi said.

Of winning their second consecutive team title in their senior year, Fretel said, “so cool.”

Gulliver coach Jeff Poppell — who was head coach from 2002-06 at Class 1A powerhouse Jacksonville Bolles, the Class 1A powerhouse than won its 28th consecutive boys and 25th consecutive girls’ team titles on Friday night — said, “we’re trying to establish our own tradition at Gulliver.”

Fretel said that though they were far out front in the team competition all evening, one motivator was to see how their times would match up against those from Bolles on Friday night and the Class 3A and 4A winners next weekend.

In the diving competition earlier Friday, Pompano Beach junior Carolyn Ehrlich took the bronze, missing the silver by less than five points.

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