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Swimming: No conference crown for these champions
A funny thing happened to Central's boys on the way to winning their first Hernando County Athletic Conference title - the conference disappeared.
By DEREK J. LaRIVIERE
Published October 7, 2007
SPRING HILL - A funny thing happened to Central's boys on the way to winning their first Hernando County Athletic Conference title - the conference disappeared.
Though some swimmers weren't aware until just hours beforehand, the scheduled fourth annual HCAC Championships were not held Saturday afternoon at the Spring Hill YMCA. Instead, the event was dubbed a quad meet by the coaches and county champions were not crowned.
The reason? The county's four public school athletic directors recently agreed to disband the conference, Springstead athletic director Bob Levija said.
But more on that later.
The Central boys (287 points) and girls (400) swept the meet, which was delayed twice due to lightning. The girls' victory was nothing new for the Bears after they had won the previous three conference titles. It was a much tougher pill for the boys to swallow after the team won its first championship. Springstead had won the previous three.
"It's definitely frustrating for us," Central swimmer Barrett Sheffield said. "You finally do what it takes to win the conference title, and it technically doesn't count."
Levija said the county athletic directors decided to get rid of the conference because, at four schools, the HCAC had simply lost relevance.
"It's too small," Levija said.
But the change is not official. Levija and Central athletic director Jeff Spivey said they are waiting for the school district to give its approval. The change wouldn't mean much: all-county teams would no longer be selected, and schools would no longer pay dues. But Nature Coast, Springstead, Central and Hernando would continue to play each other. For the time being, individual sports like swimming, which host conference championships, are caught in a game of semantics.
"We can't seem to come to any kind of consensus," Nature Coast coach Chris Bibbo said. "We owe it to these kids to straighten this out as soon as possible."
Saturday, Hernando's boys and girls took second with 276 and 266 points, respectively. Nature Coast's girls placed third (252 points) and boys fourth (132). Springstead's girls came in fourth with 137 points.
Times staff writer David Murphy contributed to this report.