Sharks enjoy a double dose of rings


The Ponte Vedra High girls swimming team received a shiny gift during halftime of the boys lacrosse district title game April 14. It was their state title rings.

They were each given the rings by athletic director Michael Harrison on the field as the home crowd cheered their accomplishment.

It was the second straight state championship for the Sharks in class 3A, who also had a couple of individuals who brought home titles in their specialized disciplines.

Senior Annie Wohlgemuth was the state champion in the 100-yard backstroke, while sophomore Penny Zarczynski earned tops in the state in the 100 freestyle.

According to Wohlgemuth, who has signed to swim next year at the University of Georgia, the presentation on the field was something different from last year and the fact that they got to share it with the fans made the moment even more special.

“Last year we got at the pool, and it was a little lower key,” Wohlgemuth said. “It’s really nice to be recognized by the whole school community. “I remember last year being surprised that we won regionals, and Junior just sat us down and told us that we really had a shot, and ever since then we’ve just been trying to keep adding to the legacy and the culture here,” Wohlgemuth said.

Winning last year was something that Zarczynski believes spurred the team on this year, after having tasted what it was like to be a state champion one year ago.

“It has helped create a culture of not settling even after you win a state championship,” Wohlgemuth said.

The experience of winning the year before also paid dividends this time around because so many of the girls had been there before and had an idea of what to expect from states and the highest level of competition any of them take part in all year.

“It’s insane and there is nothing like when you step up on the blocks at finals during states,” Zarczynski said. “You know you’ve got to give it your all.”

And that is just what the sophomore did en route to a career performance that could not have come at a better time and even surprised her.

“All season I had been placing second, third, fourth, so I was up there but not first,” Zarczynski said. “In prelims I was top five, but it was super close, so I knew I had a chance going into finals, and that was when the energy just flipped. I flipped for that last 25 (yards) and losing wasn’t an option at that point.”

Other state champions included Annabelle MacAdams, Mary Agnes Smith, and Sophie Fox joining Wohlgemuth to win the 200 medley relay, while Liv Copeland and Kate Pelot joined Wohlgemuth and Zarczynski as winners of the 200 free relay.

A lot of jaws dropped as they opened the boxes and saw the rings on the field for the very first time.

“It was just a surreal moment to finally see the ring,” freshman Kate Pelot said. “Looking back, it was just such and awesome experience and it was great to have the seniors there to help lead the way through it all.”

It was the first time for her competing at states and the one thing she will take away from this year’s run is the family atmosphere that has been created within the Ponte Vedra swim program.

“These are definitely some of my best friends and I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world,” Pelot said. “That connection really comes through when you get at a place like states.”

Pelot is an example of the great mix the Sharks had of both talented veterans and young swimmers and will be one of many to watch in future years.