High School Blitz


Published: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 11:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 13, 2010 at 11:41 p.m.

5 things of note in area sports

One local boys basketball team has a very good shot at entering the playoffs unbeaten. Palatka is 14-0 and has played the majority of its most difficult regular-season games. Possible toe-stubs include Jacksonville Wolfson on Jan. 16 (though the Panthers already beat WHS 86-66 on Dec. 22) and at Hawthorne on Jan. 26.

Former P.K. Yonge guard Crystal Johnson, one of the area's top players of the last decade, is having a productive sophomore season at Georgia State. Johnson has started every game for GSU (10-4), averaging seven points and 2.4 rebounds.

The Gatorball Baseball Academy will be holding travel team tryouts Jan. 24 at Diamond Sports Park. The times are 9 a.m. (10-under), noon (12-under) and 4 p.m. (14-under). If you register by Jan. 23, the cost is $25. If you register the day of the event, the walk-up fee is $35. For more information call 352-379-2999 or visit www.gatorballtraining.com.

Oak Hall is bringing in former college coach (and recruiting expert) Jack Renkens to deliver a 60-minute presentation called “The Realities of College Athletic Recruiting” on Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. in the Cofrin Theater. The event is open to the entire Alachua County sports community, according to Eagles' athletic director Jeff Malloy. For more information, visit www.recruitingrealities.com.

The Gainesville High softball team will be holding a golf fund-raiser on Sunday at the Mark Bostick Golf Course at UF. Check-in is 11 a.m., and it costs $60-a-person. A free light lunch and range balls will be available for an hour beginning at 11 a.m., and there will be hole (as well as first- and second-place) prizes. Golfers will compete in groups of four in a scramble format. For more information, visit http://ghs.sbac.edu/athletics/softball.

Local power poll

John Patton ranks the area's top-5 boys and girls basketball teams while providing a comment on each.

BOYS

1. The Rock: Victory against North Carolina powerhouse Quality Education in the Kreul Classic was the biggest win any local program has recorded this season.

2. Williston: Hosts The Rock on Feb. 2, but must worry about national power Jacksonville Arlington Country Day this weekend. Has beaten No. 3 Eastside.

3. Eastside: Led almost the entire way in big victory against defending FHSAA Class 5A state champions Gainesville last Friday.

4. Gainesville: Has the ability to beat just about anyone in the state on any given day, despite big graduation losses from 2008-09 champs.

5. Palatka: Unbeaten at 14-0, but not ranked higher because recent history hasn't been much. Upwardly mobile.

GIRLS

1. P.K. Yonge: Heads, shoulders and hips above everyone else. Coach Willie Powers should earn his first state title this season.

2. The Rock: Has two wins against No. 3 Eastside and the best size of any team in the area.

3. Eastside: Beat Buchholz, 62-57, on Dec. 22 to earn this spot. Rematch looms in two weeks at BHS.

4. Buchholz: Recent ugly on-court incidents have overshadowed talented team. Still has games remaining with P.K. Yonge (Jan. 21) and Eastside (Jan. 28).

5. Lafayette: A 62-61 neutral-court loss to Buchholz away from being ranked higher. Legit final four contender still has games left at The Rock (Jan. 19) and P.K. Yonge (Jan. 26).

All-star football

The Florida-Georgia Border War football all-star game will take place at 2 p.m. Saturday at Lowndes High School in Valdosta, Ga., and the Florida roster is dotted with local players and coaches.

Columbia's Craig Howard is the head coach, and his Tigers' staff of offensive coordinator Ken Fasnacht, Ed Stutlz (offensive linemen), Quinton Callum (running backs) will run the offense. Tiger coaches working with the defense are J.T. Clark (defensive ends), Vernon Amerson (defensive backs) and Greg Gillman (defensive backs/player personnel). GHS's Ryan Smith is the defensive coordinator, Buchholz's Bart Brooks will handle the defensive tackles, Williston's Derek Chipoletti will coach linebackers and Santa Fe's Shea Showers will coach up the defensive backs, according to Gillman.

Below is a list of the area's seniors scheduled to compete, provided by Brooks.

Columbia: Jamaal Montague, Brock Bessant, Tiger Powell, Todd Steward, Cameron Sweat

Gainesville: Devont'a Davis, Troy Campbell, Jordan McFadden, Corey Hodges, Walter Holsey, Paul Jackson, Ulysses Aaron, Edward Yeboah, Keyariess Burr

Hawthorne: Aaron Harriot, Chris Singleton, Tony Patterson, Danny Guttierez

Fort White: Alex Gilmer, Matt Thomas, Dylan Mudd, Joseph Johnson

Buchholz: Brian Johnson, Aaron Grant, Adrian Foster, Brad Phillips

Eastside: Edward Warren, Rashad James, Patrick Davis, Davonte Williams

Santa Fe: Frank Snead, Lane Presnell, Trea Plasters, Cadarian Criswell, Todd Filer

Williston: Isaac Floyd, Markenise Minor

Playoff locals

Below is a brief look at the local alumni still remaining in the NFL playoffs.

JARRET JOHNSON, Baltimore Ravens OLB (Chiefland): The 6-foot-3, 265-pound 7-year veteran from Alabama considers Cedar Key his hometown. Johnson enters Saturday night's game at Indianapolis with 50 tackles, six sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

IAN SCOTT, San Diego Chargers DL (Gainesville): The 6-3, 315-pound former Gator is a 7-year veteran. Scott enters Sunday's game with the New York Jets with 16 tackles and a sack.

LETROY GUION, Minnesota Vikings DL (Bradford): The 6-4, 303-pound former Florida State Seminole is a second-year pro who enters Sunday's game against Dallas having seen action in seven games this season, recording one tackle.

Athletes of the decade

Throughout the 2009-10 school year, The Sun will be unveiling its athletes and teams of the decade. Those eligible to win must have graduated in the classes from 2000 to 2009 (teams can have participated August-December of 1999).

Previously announced were the Fall sports' winners. Those were: C.J. Spiller, Union County (football player) & 1999 Suwannee (football team); Marcie Hampton, P.K. Yonge (volleyball player) & 2003 Gainesville (volleyball team); Adam Bastak, Gainesville (boys swimmer/diver) & 2002 GHS (boys swimming & diving team); Jamie Bohunicky, Buchholz (girls swimmer/diver) & 2002 Buchholz (girls swimming & diving team); Hilary White, Eastside/Buchholz (girls cross country) & 2005 Buchholz (girls cross country team); Michael Anderson, P.K. Yonge (boys cross country) & 2003 Buchholz (boys cross country team); Bobby Gates, Buchholz (boys golfer) & 2003 Buchholz (boys golf team); Tiffany Prats, Williston (girls golf) & 2000 Buchholz (girls golf team).

GIRLS WEIGHTLIFTER OF THE DECADE

Celeste Gomez, Columbia High School: The reigning two-time Sun girls weightlifter of the year still has one prep season remaining in her already impressive career. But Gomez, who is also a Florida State softball signee, has already accomplished a great deal in her three years in the sport, which has only been around since 2004. As a freshman, she lost just two regular-season meets before posting a 335-pound total to finish runner up in the 183-pound weight class at the 2007 FHSAA state finals. Gomez, who captured the first of her three straight sectional titles that season led the Tigers to a sixth-place team finish. The following season she was perfect until she reached the state meet. That was where she suffered her only loss in finishing as the state runner up (410-pound total) in the 183-pound class for the second consecutive season as the Tigers placed fifth as a team. Gomez's third try at a state title proved to be the charm as she capped off her undefeated campaign with the elusive state championship at the 183-pound class. At last year's state finals, she bench pressed 210 pounds before setting a state finals record of 215 pounds in the clean and jerk for that weight class. Gomez's total weight of 425 pounds gave her a share of the state-finals record at the 183-pound class. The Tigers placed third as a team.

Finalists for this award included Gainesville's Erica Cook, who won the 2007 state title at the 110-pound class and Santa Fe's Rebekah Babston, the 2005 state champion at 154 pounds. Cook, a three-time state-meet qualifier, holds state finals records in the bench press (160 pounds) and total weight (310-pound total) for the 110-pound class, which she set in 2007. Babston owns the state finals bench press record (185 pounds) for the 139-pound class, which she set in 2004. She also owns a share of the state finals bench press record (200 pounds) for the 154-pound class, which originally set in 2005.

“I was surprised, I didn't even know there was a weightlifter of the decade award, but I'm thrilled there is. That just shows that I have worked really hard and it is an honor to receive this award. Every girl feels that they have to be pretty and skinny and not muscular. But I am a power lifter and I like to shop, I still love to do my hair when I wake up early, I like to put make up on and I still do all of the girls stuff.”— Celeste Gomez

GIRLS WEIGHTLIFTING TEAM OF THE DECADE

2004 Keystone Heights High School: In the inaugural season of the sport, the Indians finished as the FHSAA state runners-up. They are the only area team to finish second at the state finals and Keystone Heights' 22 points is the highest point total by a state runner up in the six-year existence of the sport. Brittany Meng won an individual state championship at the 119-pound weight class. She bench pressed a then-state record of 135 pounds and added a state-finals record of 165 pounds in the clean (which was was discontinued after that season in favor for the clean and jerk) for a 300-pound total. Jaime Grogan (270-pound total) was the state runner up to Meng, while Erica Seypura (340) was the state runner up in the 183-pound class. Kayla Couey (345) placed third in the 139-pound class, with Kasey Fagan sixth (345) in the unlimited class, Meagan Greer seventh (225) at 101 pounds and Kristina Ford seventh (320) at 199 pounds. Other Keystone Heights lifters that qualified for the state meet included Renee Dowell (250) in the 129-pound class, Brenda Ward (275) in the 139-pound class, Ashlee Grant (285) in the 154-pound class and Liza Wheeler (315) in the 199-pound class.

“I think that season was a season of a lifetime. To have that many athletes working towards a common purpose with an awesome work ethic, that's a coach's dream. They were an awesome group of kids, they had the heart of a lion and they were a lot of fun to coach.”— Terri Parrish, coach

— Cliff Olsen

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