Conference champs named

Citrus County winners: Crystal River and Lecanto. Hernando winners: Springstead and Central.

Published October 8, 2006

CRYSTAL RIVER - Although the meet took place at Bicentennial Pool in Citrus County, two separate conferences decided their champions as the Hernando County Athletic Conference and Citrus County Athletic Association both competed.

Only one team competition came down to the final few events Saturday afternoon, with the Crystal River boys defeating Citrus 359-315 for the CCAA title. The 49-point margin was the smallest of the four final team standings. Lecanto took the girls CCAA title with a 424-365.5 lead over Crystal River.

Lecanto's Taylor Cooke, one of the most dominating swimmers in the area, is in her senior season. The win seemed especially gratifying for her. She had two overwhelming individual conference titles by taking the 200-yard freestyle (2:04.46) and 500-yard freestyle (5:24.86). She was the only swimmer to break the six-minute mark in the 500.

"We haven't lost a meet in three seasons," Cooke said, "and this is exactly how I wanted to go out."

Crystal River senior Caleb Oakes also won two individual events at the CCAA meet. He took first in both the 100-yard breaststroke (1:16.46) and the 50-yard freestyle (24.58). The field was very close for the boys, so Oakes' contribution was key to the Pirates' team title.

In the HCAC, Springstead took the boys championship over Central 314-255. On the girls side, Central took out Nature Coast 396-280.

Central's Rae-Lynn Sheffield has been an elite area swimmer in her own right over the past few seasons. As a senior, the Bears' conference title was anchored by her performances. In the 200-yard individual medley, Sheffield took the conference crown by finishing in 2:22.27. She also took another title in the 100 breaststroke (1:13.98).

"This is exactly the results I was hoping for before we head into districts," Sheffield said. "I have much larger goals down the road."

Springstead's program was able to repeat as HCAC champions thanks to Dan Barry's ability to swim where coach John Scott needed him. Although not his best events, Barry still took first place in both the 100-yard butterfly (56.81) and 100 breaststroke (1:11.62).

"I have distance specialists and sprint specialists on this team," Scott said. "Dan is one of the few special swimmers who is able to both extremely well."