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Pinellas youth rolls to national title

Brant Jagel of St. Petersburg returned from Colorado last month with a national roller speed skating championship and four national records.

Jagel, 15, was first overall in the Junior Men's 1993 Banked Track National Championships at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs. He set national records at 300, 500, 1,500 and 5,000 meters.

"Brant has always been a smart skater and a hard worker," said Linda Pena, Jagel's coach for four years at Skate Odyssey in Tampa. "Now, though, he must learn to become more aggressive and to take what he wants and not back down."

Jagel wants to defend his national title, both indoors and outdoors, and to place in in-line speed skating.

"In-lines use rollerblades rather than the conventional quad skates," explained Jagel. "I'm not used to the rollerblades like I am the quads _ rollerblades go a lot faster."

The addition of rollerblades to speed skating occurred just last year and, according to Pena, is a welcome bonus.

"The use of rollerblades really opened up the sport," said Pena, who competed in the World Team Championships and the Pan American Games in 1979. "We can now have sponsors, win money, earn college scholarships and, overall, become more professional."

Jagel utilizes cross-training techniques, particularly biking, putting in about 200 miles weekly. The roller skating competitive season begins in September and concludes with nationals in August. This weekend, Jagel competes in a regional qualifier in Pensacola with hopes of advancing to the August nationals in Pensacola.

"I wouldn't mind earning a college scholarship," said Jagel, an honor student at Canterbury School in St. Petersburg. "I'd like to set some new records and have been training every day on the bike, plus exercising and working out at the gym, to get ready."

Other area roller skaters competing at the regional are Dorian Levy, Georgianna Mixell and Kristina Flohr in Junior Olympics, and Jill Svarzkoph, Erin Mulrennan, Michael Proctor, Terry Plecas and Bill Beckett in the Official Nationals.

Hershey track and field: More than 100 youths ages 9-14 participated in the countywide Hershey Track and Field Meet last weekend. The Largo Parks and Recreation Department hosted the annual competition at Largo High School.

Two athletes were triple winners and will advance to the district meet June 26 in Tampa along with the other winners and runners-up. District winners continue to state competition July 17 in Miami and may then qualify for the nationals in Hershey, Pa., in August.

Omar Lawrence and J.R. Foster each won three events. Lawrence was first in the softball throw and in the 100- and 200-meter dashes in the 9-10 age division. Foster placed first in the 11-12 division in the 400 and 800 runs and the standing long jump.

Two-event winners were Chester Brinkley (boys 11-12), Char Foster (girls 13-14) and JoAnn Neeley (girls 13-14). Foster and Neeley advanced to the Hershey Nationals last year with Foster placing third in the 11-12 standing long jump and Neeley third in the 800-meter race.

Basketball: The 11-and-under Clearwater for Youth boys basketball team is in Brevard County this weekend for the AAU state tournament. The winner advances to the AAU nationals next month.

Clearwater will compete among 14 teams through Sunday. Coach Bob Barnaky relies on starters Justin Barnaky (his son), David Blakeslee, Blake and Tyler Miller, and Brian Shields, and looks to Max Degrout and Dan Eylward for help off the bench. Rounding out the squad are Brian Lauer, Kevin McKinley, Andrew Pecorelli, Thomas Pettinato and Matt Rushing.

Swimming: The host West Florida Lightning Aquatic team is preparing for next weekend's invitational meet at the Southwest Pool in Largo. More than 450 swimmers from 14 clubs, including Clearwater Aquatics and teams from the Tampa area, West Palm Beach, Bartow, Kentucky and Texas, will compete.

Ice skating: Skaters from Centre Ice earned 62 first-place awards in its 14th annual Ice Skating Institute of America Figure Skating Championships last month. Susanne Searles, 13, won four events. The Centre Ice youth drill team, the "Sunsations," won its competition.

The SunBlades Ice Arena in Clearwater plays host to its seventh annual ISIA Championships June 25-26. Competition will include school figures, pairs, freestyle, compulsory moves, footwork, ice dancing and interpretive skating. For specific competition times, call 536-5843.