Pritchard’s surge puts Raiders in district swim sandwich

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 11/3/21

PONTE VEDRA - Orange Park High swim coach Susan Johnson knows a bit about big swim meets with a few Olympic Trials and SEC championships on her resume, so the district 3-3A meet displayed a bit of …

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Pritchard’s surge puts Raiders in district swim sandwich


PONTE VEDRA - Orange Park High swim coach Susan Johnson knows a bit about big swim meets with a few Olympic Trials and SEC championships on her resume, so the district 3-3A meet displayed a bit of her coy and cunning competitive as the Raider boys team, led by Ryan Pritchard and Jose Medina, stole a silver medal Thursday at the Planet Swim facility near Ponte Vedra High School.
“We are going to surprise some people,” said Johnson. “We have a lot of new faces that have been with me a few years that are now coming into their own athleticism in the pool.”
With assistant coach Kyle Casias, a third in state butterfly specialist for Fleming Island a few years ago, the Raiders stock a firepower coaching staff that has quietly simmered into a frothy force in the pool bubbly.]
Top performance on the day for Johnson may have been senior Ryan Pritchard’s come-from-behind win over Fleming Island’s David Goodwin in the 200 individual medley with Pritchard powering the butterfly segment to erase a gap to Goodwin prior to the freestyle leg. Pritchard won 2:05.58 to 2:05.93 with both expected to contend for a state spot at this week’s region meet. Pritchard also won the 100 breast by nearly four seconds.
In the final team standings, Fletcher took the mens team title with 559 points with Orange Park runnerup at 376 and Ponte Vedra third at 328. Fleming Island was fourth at 233 with Middleburg sixth and Ridgeview seventh.
Medina was a winner in the 200 free; 1:47.18, with teammate Sebastian Lopez, just a freshman, third at 1:54.93 to give Johnson a face of the future. Lopez was fifth in the 100 free just behind Ridgeview senior Gage Quigley. Medina came back to get second in the 500 free; a slight surprise for the elite sprinter, but a choice banking on college inquiries. Medina narrowly lost to Fletcher’s Isaac Budd; 4:56.84 to 4:57.75 (4:26.15 won the Class 3A title last year). Budd surged in the final two 50s of the 500 to edge Medina, but Medina may have taken his foot off the gas pedal as third place was at 5:25.07.
“He’s been working hard for the whole year to get to this point,” said Johnson. “I like his improvement. He might surprise some people at the next two meets. Jose is a tiger at heart and will compete at any distant.”
For the girls, Fleming Island, third to Ponte Vedra and Fletcher (608-524-321) got two district titles to sophomore freestyle sprinter Maryn McDade; 50 (24.04) and 100 free (52.96), plus a segment of the runnerup 200 medley relay that Fleming Island has two years of gold medals. Senior Christine Johnson is the lone returner of the past two seasons of gold medal performances for coach Jordan Bright. Johnson got a fifth in the 100 butterfly at 1:00.07. Last year, McDade was third in 3A in the 50 free in 23.84 and the 100 free in 52.50.
Orange Park, Middleburg and Ridgeview finished fifth, sixth and seventh in team points.
Fleming Island senior Alec Bilyeu, seventh in 3A last year in the 50 free, also doubled up for Bright with a win in the 50 free (22.31) and the 100 butterfly 54.65 with teammate Dylan Ducut third at 56.68.
In the diving, which was at Fletcher on Wednesday, freshman Ava Brinkman dominated to earn 505.25 points to runner Kaitlyn Cook of St. Augustine, also a freshman, who scored a distant 453.20.

Region 1-3A is scheduled for November 3 in Tallahassee

Qualifiers include (rank, top 16 in region qualify):

Fleming Island: Girls-200 medley relay (5th), Boys 200 medley relay (9th), 200 free Abby Garriott (24th); Christina Johnson 200 IM (12th), Karen Tang 200IM (20th), Rielly Hurley 200IM (23rd), David Goodwin 200IM (7th), Maryn McDade 50 free (1st), Kelsey Bright 50 free (24th), Alec Bilyeu 50 free (1st), Ava Brinkman Diving (1st), Christine Johnson 100 fly (7th), Alec Bilyeu 100 fly (4th), Dylan Ducut 100 fly (8th), Maryn McDade 100 free (1st), Girls 200 free relay (6th), Boys 200 free relay (7th), David Goodwin 100 back (9th), Julia Sheffler 100 breast (11th), Karen Tang 100 breast (17th), Girls 400 free relay (11th), Boys 400 free relay (15th).

Orange Park: Boys-200 medley relay (6th), Jose Medina 200 free (5th), Sebastian Lopez 200 free (12th), Ryan Pritchard 200IM (6th), Kaden Danninger 50 free (24th), Gavin Thompson 100 fly 13th), Caroline Hudgins 100 free (24th), Sebastian Lopez 100 free (15th), Kaden Danninger 100 free (23rd), Jose Medina 500 free (th), Gavin Dobson 500 free (15th), Kohen Holloway 500 free (18th), Girls 200 free relay (16th), Boys 200 free relay (5th), Avery Levesque 100 backstroke (17th), Caroline Hudgins 100 breast (20th), Ryan Pritchard 100 breast (4th), Thomas Crawford 100 breast (16th), Boys 400 free relay (6th).

Ridgeview: Boys-200 medley relay (14th), Gage Quigley 100 free (13th), Boys 200 free relay (11th), Gage Quigley 100 back (14th),

Middleburg: Mason Murphree 500 free (23rd), Andrew Henry 500 free (24th), Girls 200 free relay (14th), Ezekiel Griffin 100 breast (21st),


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