Andy Warrener | Special to the Times
Dixie Hollins wins its first PCAC title since 1979.
The four-year headlock that Palm Harbor University held on Pinellas County was broken Saturday.
Dixie Hollins, ranked second in Tampa Bay in the HomeTeam 25 behind only Brandon, broke through with a resounding victory, topping East Lake 280-249.5 in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference championship. The ’Canes took third with 226.5. It marked the Rebels’ first PCAC title under coach Nick Spataro and Dixie Hollins' first county title since 1979.
"This is a product of our program and of my coaching staff," Spataro said. "I have the best staff in the state and we have been successful because of these guys."
Spataro refers to assistant coaches, Ed Bryant, Taylor Nevitt and Mike Thompson, but Spataro's wrestlers did their part and more. The Rebels led all weekend and as much as Spataro doesn't like to bean count, even he confessed to having totaled up the scenarios leading into the finals to discover that one match in the 106 final would mathematically clinch it.
It certainly helped that the Rebels sent 10 of their 14 wrestlers to the finals; East Lake and PHU had just five. Once PHU's Gabe Naranjo pinned East Lake's Jackson Fessler to kick off the finals, the Rebels had it in the bag. …Full Story
Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, Feb. 6 through Friday, Feb. 12. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.
Mia Buffano, softball, Palm Harbor University: The freshman, who has already committed to Florida, had three home runs during the week, including two against Sarasota Riverview to help the Hurricanes erase a six-run deficit to win 9-8.
Bayli Johns, softball, Durant: The senior hit her first two home runs in any level of softball against Plant City, including a two-run walkoff blast as the Cougars rallied with four runs in the seventh inning to win 5-3.
Abbey Primavera, softball, Nature Coast: The Sharks’ ace threw a complete game with eight strikeouts, no walks and one earned run in a 3-1 win over rival Springstead to remain unbeaten. Primavera also was strong at the plate with a game-tying double in the sixth inning. …Full Story
Dirk Shadd | Times
Northeast football coach Jeremy Frioud had a cancerous mass removed from his kidney.
Northeast football coach Jeremy Frioud said he felt stomach pains about two weeks ago and decided to seek medical help. After undergoing tests, it was determined that he had a small, cancerous mass on his kidney.
On Feb. 1, Frioud had surgery and no other cancer was detected.
“I’ll be fine,” said Frioud, who also teaches PE. “The surgery hurt like crazy. There were days where I felt like I was going to die. But I’m slowly getting better. It still hurts. I hoped to get back (to school) next week but it’s looking like it will be the week after.”
Frioud, 35, completed his second season as the Vikings’ head coach last fall. He said he will get back in the weight room with his players as soon as possible, although he won’t be lifting weights any time soon.
“And I won’t be yelling at them,” he said. “I’ll just be talking.”
Asked if he would be back on the sideline for the spring game in May, Frioud said, “(Heck) yeah.”
Alex Sevillano, a former standout volleyball player at Clearwater and Florida State, has been told she will not return as St. Petersburg’s volleyball coach next season. Sevillano completed her fifth season at the school this past fall. The Green Devils were 19-11.
During the season, Sevillano, 34, told school officials that she may not be able to return as coach if she got a job with the federal government. She was offered one, but asked the school if she could have until mid-February before making a final decision.
Sevillano, a lawyer who does not teach at the school, said she was told on Monday that she would not return.
“I was very surprised,” she said. “I get it. They want somebody who is on campus. I did offer to get my teaching certificate so I could have practices after school but that didn’t work. I was 50/50 on whether to go ...or stay here. Now that decision is made for me. When one door closes, another one opens. I just thought I’d be the one closing the door.”
Calls and e-mails to principal Al Bennett and athletic director Lincoln Yates were not immediately returned.Full Story
Osceola athletic director Mark Robertson said there were 60 applicants for the football position to replace coach George Palmer, who is retiring after 26 seasons.
The deadline for candidates to apply was Feb. 5. Robertson said he has already whittled the list to 14 with plans to get to a top 10 who will interview sometime next week.
“We want to move fast, but we also want to do our due diligence,” Robertson said. “We want to be sure we find the right person who is the right fit to take over for someone who is a legend.”
Palmer, 62, is retiring because he is in the Deferred Retirement Option Program, a lucrative package for teachers, and was not offered an extension. Palmer had the longest tenure of any current Pinellas County coach. That title now belongs to East Lake’s Bob Hudson, who will be entering his 14th season with the Eagles next year.Full Story
Brendan Fitterer | Times
Kirby Osborn returns as the ace for Land O'Lakes this season.
Matt Adams, Jr., RHP/OF, Countryside: Adams was a key player last year, both at the plate and on the mound. He will have the same role again this season. He hit .373 with 15 RBIs as a sophomore. As a starter, he was 10-2 with a 1.22 ERA in 68.2 innings.
Oakley Albinson, Jr., RHP, Indian Rocks Christian: Albinson emerged as the Golden Eagles’ ace last season. At 6-foot-6, he is a menacing right-hander with an above-average fastball. He was 10-2 with a 1.47 ERA in 71.1 innings pitched as a sophomore. He’s getting looks from schools like Georgia Tech, Duke, Stanford and Northwestern.
Andrew Belcik, Sr., RHP/OF, East Lake: Belcik has already signed with Notre Dame. He is a hard-throwing starter who can top 90. He had a 1.95 ERA last season. At the plate, he hit .286 with six doubles and two homers. Expect an even bigger season in the field and offensively. …Full Story
Eve Edelheit | Times
With Kevin Nunez on the mound, Alonso is one of the teams to beat this season.
This week: Tuesday at Hillsborough, Thursday vs. Newsome, Saturday at Riverview
Scoop: The 2015 Saladino Tournament champions return most of last year’s talented roster, including five Ravens who hit at least .300 last season and two of its top three pitchers in Kevin Nunez (5-4, 1.64 ERA) and Jordan Butler (5-0, 1.43 ERA). This year Alonso will play in a four-team district in the new 9A classification, alongside tough opponents like Newsome, Palm Harbor University and Sarasota Riverview.
2. East Lake
This week: Thursday vs. Dixie Hollins, Friday vs. Largo
Scoop: To no one’s surprise, the Eagles will be good again. Perhaps very good. Christian James, Andrew Belcik and Travis Macgregor form a tough three-man pitching rotation. Kevin Lambert, Jakob Sessa, JJ Yergey and Reid Zitzelberg all return after nice offensive seasons in 2015. The only major change this season is new coach Zack Roper, who takes over for Dan Genna. Roper was an assistant last season, so he is familiar with this team.
This week: Tuesday at Middleton, Friday vs. Lakeland …Full Story
The Pinellas vs. Pinellas girls senior all-star game will be played Saturday, March 5 at Keswick High School. Game time is 7:15 p.m. Cost is $4 for adults, $2 for students.
Here are the rosters for both teams:
Carley Plentovich, Jenny Bollinger (Calvary Christian); *Analise Walker (CCC); Monique McAbee (Clearwater); Diep Tran (Dixie Hollins); Kyra Champagne (Indian Rocks Christian); Sakhia Jones, Sarah Snell, *Khaihiqa Davidson (Lakewood); McKenzie Milligan (Northeast); Kaitlin Lindblom, Hailey McDonnell (Osceola).
Savannah Plentovich (Calvary Christian); Tessa Rogari (Countryside); Alexis Bailey (Dixie Hollins); Autumn Frost (Indian Rocks Christian); Alexis Ross, Rebecca Kiggins (Keswick Christian); *Mikaela Hudson, *Lexi Bryant (Northeast); Ashtyn Cate (PHU), Catherine McClure, Paige Lawson (Seminole); Jasmyn McCalla (Shorecrest).
MONICA HERNDON | Times
Jalyssa Autie and Gaither coasted in the season opener.
1. Newsome (1-0)
This week: Tuesday vs. Brandon; Thursday at Alonso
Scoop: The Wolves, the defending Class 8A state champions, opened their season with a resounding 24-0 win over Tampa Bay Tech that ended early because of the mercy rule. It was the most runs Newsome has scored in the past decade. On Thursday, the Wolves start play in Class 9A, District 8 with a game against Alonso.
2. Gaither (1-0)
This week: Monday at Tampa Bay Tech; Thursday at Hillsborough
Scoop: Jalyssa Autie, Elizabeth Mason and Carolyn O’Neal each had two hits, and Bethany Kursch had a three-run homer in the Cowboys’ 8-1 win over Jefferson in the season opener. The pitching also was strong with Sammi Grat and Hailee DeCicco coming on a two-hitter and striking out eight against the Dragons.
3. Chamberlain (1-0)
This week: Tuesday at Strawberry Crest; Thursday vs. Leto
Scoop: In the season opener, the Chiefs rallied with three runs in the seventh inning to beat Alonso 3-1. The schedule remains tough with games against Strawberry Crest on Tuesday, followed by the Class 7A, District 9 opener against rival Leto on Thursday.
4. Canterbury (0-0)
This week: Friday at Hagerty; Saturday at Winter Springs …Full Story
Monday is the first day for high school baseball's regular season. One of the highlights is the Steve Georgiadis Memorial tournament at Seminole. The tournament begins at 4:30 with Northeast vs. Lakewood. At 7:30, Dunedin plays Indian Rocks Christian. On Tuesday, Boca Ciega plays Osceola at 4:30 and at 7:30 Seminole plays Clearwater.
Loser's bracket games are Wednesday. Semifinal games are Thursday at 4:30 and 7:30. The third place game is 4:30 on Friday. The final is Friday at 7.Full Story
Andy Warrener | Special to the Times
Palm Harbor University gets a key tournament win as the postseason approaches.
As wrestling season turns the corner into the final run through counties and the state series, this weekend was most teams' last chance to get key matches in before it's do-or-die time.
Palm Harbor University did just that by hosting the Logan Kushner Memorial, a round-robin dual. The ’Canes got a good look at North Port, a team they share a district with and topped them 325.5-322.5 to win the tournament.
"It was important these last couple weeks to wrestle North Port," PHU coach Brad Sakevich said. "We've had some gritty wins this year; we're young but whether it's tournaments or duals, they're not always pretty but we find a way to get it done."
Individual champions for the ’Canes were: Gabe Naranjo (106, 10-0), Joe Capone (126, 9-0), Gavin Mitchiner (138, 10-0) and Matt Westbay (285, 9-0). The swing matches happened at 138 and 285 as Mitchiner pinned North Port's Cody Henson and Westbay pinned Schavallis Petterson in the last second of the first period.
"We lose either of those matches it could go either way," Sakevich said.
Chris Fragale topped Michael Bush of Sarasota 8-6 at the meet. Bush is ranked fourth at 106 by the Florida Wrestling Room and fifth by Scout.com. …Full Story
Each week, our HomeTeam staffers nominate male and female Hot Shot athletes from each of the counties we cover. Then we turn the voting over to readers. These nominations span Saturday, Jan. 30 through Friday, Feb. 5. Read up on all of our nominees then vote until noon Monday.
Chelsie Hall, basketball, Seffner Christian: The junior guard had 38 points and eight steals to help lead Seffner Christian to a 62-47 victory against Indian Rocks Christian in the region quarterfinals. Hall averages more than 20 points and five steals per game.
Tre-Shon Jenkins, basketball, Spoto: Jenkins scored a season-high 27 points in Spoto’s 59-31 win over Lake Wales in the region quarterfinals. It was the school’s first region tournament win. Jenkins made five three 3-pointers.
Alexis Ross, basketball, Keswick Christian: The senior forward had a team-high 22 points and scored the winning basket in the final of the Crusaders’ 44-42 victory over Donahue in the region quarterfinals.
Taylor Polasky, basketball, Calvary Christian: The sophomore scored a team-high 19 in the Warriors’ 77-22 win over Bishop McLaughlin the region quarterfinals. …Full Story
Kelly Parsons | Times
Markese Hargrove has received a full academic scholarship from USF.
Plant City running back Markese Hargrove was getting restless.
The 1,000-yard rusher and Guy Toph Award winner had just a few college offers, all from smaller schools, as the 2015 football season continued to progress. Meanwhile, he was leading Plant City to its best season in school history, rushing for 1,731 yards and 17 touchdowns.
“We were both getting restless,” Hargrove’s mother, Kenyatta Shaw, said.
But at the last minute, the hometown team started calling.
Hargrove, who boasts a 4.8 weighted grade-point average, had done enough in the classroom to earn a full academic scholarship to the University of South Florida. So when then-defensive coordinator Tom Allen began reaching out to Plant City coach Greg Meyer, it was an easy process from there to secure Hargrove a spot as a preferred walk-on.
“They loved him. It was one of those situations where they thought they were stealing him, because with his situation of having a full academic scholarship and already being admitted,” Meyer said. “With a lot of walk-ons, those are variables that tend to trip that up later on in the process.” …Full Story
Kelly Parsons | Times
KJ Sails initially tried to fool folks into thinking he had picked Cincinnati before going with North Carolina.
Three-star cornerback KJ Sails marched into East Bay’s media center Wednesday sporting a flat-billed Cincinnati hat, cocked to the side, and his usual wide grin. But even though he was representing the Bearcats at the start of the Indians’ signing day ceremony, it didn’t take long into the festivities for Sails to admit that he was destined to be a Tar Heel all along.
When it was his turn, Sails thanked the crowd in front of him before whipping out a UNC hat from underneath the table. He signed moments later, alongside teammates Gaej Walker (Western Kentucky) and Trey Fullwood (Coffeyville Community College).
“I feel like you’ve got to have fun with it,” Sails said about his prank.
Sails was a three-year starter at East Bay, racking up more than 1,200 all-purpose yards as a senior and recording 21 tackles on defense.
But the 5-foot-11, 170-pounder didn’t start his high school career on top.
“When I met KJ, he was a 135-pound freshman,” coach Frank LaRosa said. “He walked into the weight room and he was what KJ is, definitely not short of confidence and he talked a lot.” …Full Story
LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Sickles quarterback Chris Oladokun embraces father Henry Oladokun after committing to USF.
TAMPA — No matter who he put under center last spring, nothing had seemed to work for Sickles quarterbacks coach Jason Silbert.
Frustrated, the longtime Gryphons assistant was almost ready to throw his hands up. But then an answer came one day in the form of a transfer from down the road at Alonso.
It was Chris Oladokun.
"I was working with a bunch of punch-buggies," Silbert told a packed audience inside the school's auditorium Wednesday afternoon.
"Then, one day I walked in the room, and it was like a sports car showed up."
Oladokun hopes to have that same effect at USF, too. …Full Story