By TERRY JONES
© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2000
TAMPA -- Plant's girls and Jesuit's boys took top honors Saturday at the 27th Annual Relays at Bobby Hicks Pool.
The Panthers started slow but took the lead before the midway point and ran away from its closest challenger to record their second consecutive win in the event. Plant scored 84 points, followed by Durant with 55 and Berkeley Prep third with 46.
Jesuit started strong and seemed to have no challenge until the 10th event, when the butterfly relay was disqualified for a bad turn. Although the Tigers fell back into a tie after that event, they regrouped to score 72 points, followed by Durant with 65, Plant with 64 and Berkeley Prep with 40.
After the disqualification, the Tigers won the 400-yard medley, placed second in the 200 freestyle and placed high in the mixed events.
"We recovered quickly after the DQ," Tiger senior Brad Perez said. "We weren't sure of the competition this year, but it turned out pretty tough. It seemed like every team had at least one great swimmer in one event or another."
"The team came together well today," sophomore Ben Sheridan said. "We had a lot of team spirit throughout the meet."
Plant's top freestyle relay speedsters, Jennifer Bishop, Christie Pesce, Christine Anseeuw and Allison Kirkwood, started where they finished last year. They placed second in the state in the 400 freestyle last year and, minus Bishop, won the 200 freestyle title.
This year, Bishop will be in both relays. The four won both events Saturday with ease.
"Our whole team did well today, even the younger ones," Bishop said. "I personally felt good with all my swims today, and it was great to watch all our younger swimmers step up and do good jobs."
Anseeuw and Kirkwood also helped Carter Crosby and Alex Engelman win the mixed 200 freestyle relay.
Plant girls coach Gil Gonzalez said he felt good about his team going into the meet but was pleasantly surprised with a couple of events.
"The 200-yard breaststroke and butterfly events were the events that secured the win for us and gave us some distance," Gonzalez said. "We won the butterfly and placed second in the breaststroke. That was good. The overall competition was much stronger than we had anticipated, and that was good also."