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Northwest Y gymnasts are Gasparilla champs

Female gymnasts in Levels 2 through 10 from the Tampa Northwest YMCA, 75 strong, combined to win the team championship in the Fourth Annual Gasparilla Classic Gymnastics Tournament Feb. 8-9. There were 45 teams involving 580 gymnasts in the tournament.

Tampa Northwest totaled 59 points, followed by the Apollo School of Gymnastics of Clearwater with 44 and LaFleur's Gymnastics of St. Petersburg with 41.

Taiaso Gymnastics of Halifax, Nova Scotia, won the United States Gymnastics Federation (USGF) open competition for Levels 9, 10 and elite gymnasts from the United States and Canada.

The Canadian team scored 109.25 points, followed by Mainline Gymnastics of Philadelphia with 106.4. Northwest YMCA placed third with 105.9 points.

In other girls competition, the Brandon YMCA team won first place in Level 2 and third in Level 4 and 5 open. Tampa Gymnastics of the Tampa Recreation Center placed first in Level 4 open.

Northwest YMCA placed second in the Level 7 USGA optionals, third in USGF Level 5, first in USGF Level 4 and third in open competition for Levels 4 and 5. Northwest also placed third in boys Class V and fifth in boys Class IV competition.

"This meet was totally for the kids this year," said tournament director Tom Keckler. "There were just lots and lots of trophies, and during the meet both gyms (at Northwest YMCA and Ben Hill Junior High) were filled with enthusiastic kids yelling and cheering for each other. This has become a national-level meet that we hope will have 800 to 1,000 gymnasts next year. However, we will need to locate some corporate sponsors to help rent larger facilities.

"Next month we will be hosting the USGF state championships for Levels 8-9-10. That will be a big meet also."

Auto racing: A 1992 Lumina race car driven by five-time NASCAR Winston Cup champion Dale Earnhardt will appear at Dimmitt Chevrolet-GEO, 25485 U.S. Highway 19, this Friday and Saturday. Hours will be from noon to 9 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. A member of the Goodwrench Race Team also will be there. Goodwrench and Earnhardt memorabilia will be available. For more information, call 791-1818.

Boys soccer: Brooksville-Hernando High boys soccer coach Rick Ahrens is organizing an under-age-18 club, the Suncoast Strikers, to compete at two youth soccer tournaments in England and tour the country this summer.

Boys born after Aug. 1, 1973, are eligible. Places on the team are being filled on a non-competitive, first-come first-served basis.

The team is scheduled to participate in two events, the London Cup Soccer Tournament at the University of London, and the 13th Wedgwood Keele Classic International Soccer Festival at the University of Keele, located in central England.

The team's 12-day itinerary calls for departure July 23. Parents, coaches and other guests can accompany the team for an additional fee. The first $350 installment of the trip's approximate $1,650 price tag is due Friday, payable to the Hernando Soccer Booster Club, followed by payments of $250 on March 26, $500 on April 30 and about $550 on May 28.

Costs cover round-trip airfare, transportation in England, 10-night accommodations, tournament entry fees, training sessions with English coaches, 16 meals, supervised social activities, uniforms, a team shirt and opposing-team gifts.

For more information, call Ahrens in the evening at (904) 666-1665.