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Football teams entering stretch run

The Pinellas Youth Football Conference enters its final two weeks of regular-season competition with its games today. The PYFC serves more than 4,000 youths in football and cheerleading activities. Playoffs leading to varsity championships begin Nov.10 with the finals Nov.17.

St. Petersburg 'Lil Devils remain in first in the pee wee division, and tied for first in flyweight and mighty mite. Northeast's Bandits are tied for first in mighty mite and midget divisions.

Richard Turner, president of the St. Petersburg league and a volunteer for all of the league's 21 years, predicted St. Petersburg would be at the forefront when it came to playoff time.

"I expected us to be at the top all along," Turner said. "We've had champions in three divisions before and we wouldn't mind taking them back."

Cecil Odom, coach of St. Petersburg's undefeated pee wee team, is more cautiously pleased.

"We're doing all right," said Odom, coach of the defending championship team. "This is as talented a team as any I've had in 12 years. What we're looking for is consistency of play. We prepare for each game as if it were a championship game _ you have to if you're going to stay on top."

The nucleus of Odom's pee wee team were members of last year's mighty mite team that went undefeated and won the PYFC title for the third time. Odom coached all three mighty mite championship teams.

Up to today's games, Northeast midgets (7-1-0) were tied for first with Clearwater. Northeast coach Bill Catana credits his team's success to good coaching from the flyweight through midget divisions.

"Our league has a lot of pride," said Catana, 12-year coach for Northeast. "It really started last year when we had teams in three division playoffs. Two made it to the final and the midgets won."

To complete its season, Northeast plays Largo today and Countryside Nov.3. Catana plans to take one game at a time.

"We haven't clinched the top spot yet," Catana said. "It's an old cliche, but you've got to just take one game at a time because our division is very competitive. The kids, though, are excited because of last year's success."

Following the Nov.3 games, the top four teams of 14 in each of four varsity divisions will move to the PYFC championships. St. Petersburg will host all post-season competition at Campbell Park.

Gymnastics: Nearly 100 gymnasts competed in the Second Local Qualifying Meet for Levels 6 and 7 held at the Apollo School of Gymnastics in Clearwater Oct.20-21. Andrea Mazur from the Gemini School of Gymnastics in Oldsmar led all Level 6, 12-14 year-olds, with an all-around first-place finish, including firsts in beam and bars. Local gymnasts captured nine of the top 10 all-around awards.

Apollo's Sheri Noble won Level 7, 12-14, among 15 gymnasts.

In a Second Qualifying Meet held earlier this month for Level 4 and 5 girls at the Interbay YMCA in Tampa, Tara Phillips won Level 4, 6-9, and Jana Gallagher won Level 5, 7-9. Jodi Gillespie was second in level 4, 10-12. Phillips and Gallagher train at LaFleur's Gymnastic Club in Largo.

Go-karting: D.J. Hoelzel, 15, of Palm Harbor won two national championships in Enduro kart racing. Hoelzel won 10 of 22 races this year, his worse finish being fourth. Hoelzel began go-karting at 5.