Sandy Scott was in the zone. Like, really in the zone.
It was a hot, windy morning on June 20 in Houston at the National Senior Games, which is basically the Olympics for athletes 50 and older. Scott, a 71-year-old state champion cyclist, was competing in the 5K time trials. He trained harder than he ever had for a race and was expecting big things.
Until he woke up the morning of the race with a cold that had him feeling drained. Scott shrugged it off and turned in a record-setting time of six minutes, two seconds. That was one minute and 19 seconds better than the previous 5K record set in 1999.
"This was the highlight of my athletic life and one of the best days of my life,'' Scott said. "I trained my brains out for this thing. I was in prime shape. I got to Houston and a day and half before the event I got this horrible cold. I thought four years of dreams and working was down the drain. For about an hour as I warmed up I felt terrible. But then I started feeling good.
"I went off the line and I got in a zone. It was ridiculous. It was like I could do nothing wrong. I'm passing people who started before me. It seemed like the finish line got there in two minutes.''
Scott, a retired airline pilot who lives in Seminole, had two things motivating him. First, during a race in Gainesville in 2005, he fell off his bike and suffered a C-1 fracture in his neck. He was in a cast for five months and the injury took nine months to heal. Doctors weren't sure if he would ride again.
Second, four years ago at the National Senior Games in Louisville, Scott veered off course during the 5K time trials and ended up seventh.
"I vowed that day that in four years I was going to return to Houston and win,'' Scott said.
Scott's time was better than any competitor in any age group at the Games. His plan was to race in the 10K time trial the next day, but he was barely able to get out of bed, let alone race.
Regardless, he's still happy and shocked about what he did in Houston.
"It was a dream day,'' Scott said. "Things like this just don't happen. I haven't slept in a week.''
The County Golf Association held an individual tournament June 23 at Seminole Lake CC. The regular division gross winner was Marshall Ames, who shot 67. The regular division net winner was Mike Zehnder, who shot 63. The senior division gross winner was Kirk Barber, who shot 69. The senior net winner was Jerry MacDonald, who shot 63.
The CGA's better ball tournament was held June 27 at Countryside Country Club. The regular division gross winners were John Van Vleck and Jeff Pett, who shot 70. The senior division gross winners were Bobby Kilgore and Mike Sanderson, who shot 65. The overall net winners were Eddie Grant and Dan Barbaro and Al Furtek and Larry Deavers, who shot 60s.
• The 15th annual Sirmons Insurance Golf Classic was held June 25 at Mainlands Golf Club in Pinellas Park. The winning team score was 15 under, shot by Roger Stull, Ron Stull, Chris Kingsley and Tom Turner. The winning mixed team was Watson Sinden, Pam Small, Mark Baldwin and Debbie Baldwin. The winning first flight team was Duane Carmelo, Jerry White, Henry Peral and Skip Ririe. The winning second flight team was Dan Cornellius, John Panzarella, Bill Cazwell and Nick Cornellius.
Nicholas Litsky of St. Petersburg won the boys 16 singles championship at the Deer Creek Local tournament in Deerfield Beach on June 26.
The Pinellas Punishers 13-15 girls team qualified for the United States Specialty Sports Association Fast Pitch Softball World Series on July 19-24 in Gulf Shores, Ala. The Punishers defeated the Florida Venom on June 12 to secure a second-place finish and a spot in the world series. The team members are Lindsay Eaton, Jordan Finch, Autumn Fityo, Callie Krauchenko, Amanda Lostraglio, Rachel Morton, Shelby Nowakowski, Haley Nygren, Hannah Nygren, Lexi Pereiro and Kierra Wachtel. The coaches are Jeremy Nygren, John Wachtel and Jim Krauchenko.
The West Florida Young Guns 9-under team recently came in second at the national AAU championship tournament in Orlando. The team, which is based in Tampa and made up of players from throughout the Tampa Bay area, is qualified for the USSSA 9-under Elite 32 World Series on July 31-Aug. 6 at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. Overall, the team is 57-11-1. Team members are Trey Bacon, Ezra Brennan, Chase Centala, Jay Cobb, Derek Crum, Sehjin Daley, Trey Hinchliffe, Connor Leach, Jalen Niles, Logan O'Brien, Dawson Place, and Jared Stearns. Coaches are Chris Brennan, Rob Hinchliffe and Charles Centala.