The chance for Hernando County swimmers to erase the past four seasons of no one advancing to states has arrived.
Among the five local squads, there will be 18 participants in individual races and eight total relays taking part in Friday's Class 2A, Region II Meet at the YMCA Aquatic Center in Orlando.
Timed finals begin at 4 p.m. Just as with districts, the top two finishers in individual races and first-place relays automatically move on to states.
The remaining field for all events in the 2A FHSAA Finals, held at Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart on Nov. 9, will be determined by at-large times.
County champion Springstead, fresh off finishing third for both boys and girls at the 2A-District 6 Meet last week, leads the county contingent with 10 in individual races and five relays.
"I'm very happy and a little bit surprised," Springstead coach Wayne Withington said. "I should say happily surprised. I didn't expect as many to go.
"I can't tell you where we're going to place, but overall individually I believe that each one will do their best time. They're training hard and getting ready for this meet. I'm hoping for the best for all of them."
Senior Morgan Kiloh is making his third regional appearance. He came in third in the 100-yard freestyle (50.64) and fifth in the 200 free (1:50.09) a year ago.
This time he sits second in the 200 with a 1:51.14, behind only Wesley Chapel's Caleb Zeleznock (1:50.90). He's also ninth in the 100 fly (57.72).
For the girls, senior Monica Surrena will swim in her fourth regional, hoping for her first state trip and to become the first county female to make it that far since 2007.
Over the previous three seasons in the 200 free, she has placed sixth (2:05.30), fifth (2:04.05) and fourth (2:01.13).
Coming in at 2:02.87, she sits fifth in the pre-meet rankings. She's fourth in the 100 free (56.36).
"I haven't really looked at (the seedings). I'm trying to stay away from looking at it," Withington said. "They're going to do their best, I know that, and it's going to be what it's going to be. I'd love to see the both of them go on to states.
"I think they swam well at districts. They tell me they've got a little more in them to swim faster. I'm looking forward to seeing them swim faster."
Kiloh, Hunter Geisen, Matthew Sundell and Trey Patterson are the third-seeded 200-medley relay with their 1:50.45 time, and fourth in the 200-free relay (1:37.23).
Sophomore Allyson Fielder, 19th in the 100 free at regionals as a freshman, sits 11th in the 500 free (6:05.61) and 20th in the 200 free (2:16.44).
Geisen (12th in 100 breaststroke, 1:10.92; 23rd in 200 free, 2:08.20), Sam Brockway (24th in 200 IM, 2:29.85), Patterson (11th in 50 free, 24.13; 23rd in 100 free, 56.81), Sara Overa (13th in 100 fly, 1:09.70; 15th in 100 backstroke, 1:12.44), Sundell (16th in 100 fly, 1:01.64; 18th in 100 back, 1:07.68), Chris Begeny (17th in 500 free, 5:53.29) and Gordon Appleton (21st in 100 breast, 1:15.00) are also among the Eagles set to compete as individuals.
Plus for Springstead, Overa, Fielder, Surrena and Maddy Kiloh form the 10th-seeded 200-medley relay (2:10.57) and fifth-ranked 200-free relay (1:52.29).
Appleton, Begeny, Brockway and Matthew Bute snuck in as the 16th-seeded 400-free relay (4:00.23).
"Obviously a good day would be to have one or two go to states, and have a handful in the top 10," Withington said.
Hernando High will represented by a three-time regional qualifier, senior Paisley Whitaker, 11th in the 100 free (59.73) and 13th in the 100 back (1:10.56). She also went to regionals in those two races in 2012, as well as the 100 back as a freshman.
Additionally for the Leopards, senior Brennan Ertl made it in the 50 free (23.47) and 100 fly (58.48), and sophomore Lane Whitaker in the 50 free (24.81). Those two plus Harrison Rose and Andrew Ertl are 16th in the 200-free relay (1:45.50).
Weeki Wachee has two regional qualifiers for the first time, sophomore Michael Molnar (12th in 500 free, 5:49.09; 24th in 200 free, 2:09.46) and freshman Ashton Hunter (24th in 500 free, 6:05.75).
The Hornets also have their first relays to advance out of the district, the quartet of Jake Bence, Hunter, Zach Guerin and Molnar in the 200 medley (16th, 1:58.23) and 200 free (12th, 1:42.37).
Nature Coast sophomore Joe Lacy is making his second regional trip in the 100 back, seeded eighth (1:04.74), and this year has added the 200 IM (12th, 2:18.66).
Crystal Burchhardt, a senior for the Lady Sharks, sits 24th in the seedings for the 100 free (1:05.78).
Central's lone swimmer left is senior Addison Hilyard, seeded 23rd in the 100 fly (1:04.84).
At a Glance
What: Class 2A, Region II Meet
Who: Swimmers from Central, Hernando, Nature Coast, Springstead and Weeki Wachee
When: Today, timed finals starting at 9 a.m.
Where: YMCA Aquatic Family Center, 8422 International Dr., Orlando
At Stake: A total of 24 spots in individual races and 16 in each relay from across four regions in the Nov. 9 2A FHSAA Finals at the Sailfish Splashpark Aquatic Athletics Center in Stuart. Only regional champions in each race, and regional runners-up in individual races, earn automatic bids.