Athletic teams achieve three championships in nine days

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This story was originally published in the third edition of The Lion’s Tale (December 7, 2018).

Boys’ Swim and Dive

On Nov. 9, Oviedo High’s boys’ swim team achieved an historic win at this year’s state championships at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart, Florida.

The team had modest expectations at the beginning of the season.

“We go in to a season with positive expectations, said junior Ryan Gibbons. “We had never really expected the team to go so far so quickly.”

The regular season was competitive, but the swim team remained undefeated the entire season.

“I realized that we could actually win states after the preliminaries,” said senior Santiago DeStefano.

The district meet’s main goal was to not get disqualified and to eventually qualify for regionals and states.

“Districts and regionals, I wasn’t too focused on the time, said senior David Carrasquillo. “Just the place and progressing in the series.”

The boys’ team swam head to head with their biggest competitors, Seminole and Lake Brantley.

“Having the top three finishers all be from Seminole county is not only ironic, but it speaks to the strength of the teams in the local area,” Gibbons said.

The season continued to be special.

“This is the first time the boys’ swim team won a state meet and went undefeated the whole season,” DeStefano said.

Boys’ Bowling

On Nov. 8, the Oviedo boys’ bowling team swept Jupiter 3-0 in the FHSAA boys’ bowling team championship. It was the school’s first-ever bowling title for the boys’ team, after the girls’ team won back-to-back titles the previous two years.

Senior boys’ bowler Brandon Linen said that the boys’ team felt the need to win states after so much attention was focused on the girls’ team

“When it came to the end of the conference season and we knew that we were going to win districts, we started practicing harder because we had a goal in mind that we wanted to meet,” Linen said. “It was Costello’s last year coaching, and we wanted to do it for her.”

Coach Pat Costello is a former U.S. Open champion, and was named the 2018 Girls’ Sports Coach of the Year by the Orlando Sentinel.

She has now captured her third straight state title in her last season as coach of the Oviedo bowling teams.

“I asked them if they were getting tired of the girls always getting all the attention,” Costello said. “The boys decided it was their turn, so they put in the time and hard work. Both teams really compete against each other during practices and matches.”

According to Costello, the team started off slow and improved as the season progressed. They clicked as a team at districts, and it carried throughout the rest of the playoffs.

By the time districts came around, Costello said that the team finally understood that they could maintain success by being able to pick up spares.

“Every ball that I threw, I just tried to keep it on the lane and make a makable spare,” Linen said. “As long as we made the spares, we knew that we were going to win the game.”

Linen said that the team’s confidence at states was high because of their experience from states last year.

“Every championship is special,” Costello said. “This one, being my last and it being the boys, was extra special.”

Girls’ Volleyball

On Nov. 16, the Oviedo varsity girls’ volleyball team swept Palm Beach Gardens 3-0 in the FHSAA girls’ volleyball championship. Oviedo won the 7A state championship in 2013, but this year marked the school’s first ever 9A state volleyball title.

Head coach Jennifer Darty lead the team to the state finals in 2016, but they fell short after being swept. Darty believed that the team’s 2016 state title loss helped to motivate them this time around.

“They also came in a little more prepared, from a mental standpoint, and put more focus on the task at hand to not just be satisfied with getting there,” Darty said. “We focused on the opportunity that we had in front of us and we earned everything along the way, all the way up to that last point.”

Darty said that the girls were prepared mentally, physically and emotionally to win a state championship.

“I love the way they worked all season long and poured their heart into everything we did,” Darty said. “They bought in from the start, committed to the process and we had a lot of fun along the way leading up to that final win.”

Junior Mikaela Schultz had the winning kill after a long rally to win the match. Darty said that moment was so rewarding for her.

“Seeing all of their hard work pay off, the tears of joy forming their eyes and that final burst of emotion and celebration together,” Darty said. “They have worked so hard for this and to see it all pay off by winning a state championship is so special.”

Senior Rileigh Powers was part of the 2016 team that lost in the state championship and reflected on winning a state championship in her last year.

“We worked so hard this year in practice and in games,” Powers said. “I think the team worked hard for each other and we really earned it.”

According to Darty, the team showed that quality of selflessness during the entire season.

“I think what makes this journey so unique is that they wanted that final win more for each other than they ever did for themselves,” Darty said.