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Apollo Beach club excels in qualifier

The Apollo Beach Track Club (ages 9-16) fared well in Sunshine State Games regional competition among more than 300 athletes at Clearwater High School last weekend.

Several club members were among the top four finishers in each event in each age division who earned berths in the state games in Tallahassee July 9-10.

Nicole Nugent qualified in three individual events for girls ages 13-14. She placed second in the 200-meter hurdles and the shot put and third in the 100-meter hurdles. She set club records in all three events.

Ken Gibbons, 15, won gold medals in the shot put and discus in the intermediate boys (15-16) division. His 35-foot, 2-inch toss in the shot was a club record.

"Ken had been throwing the 8-pound shot up until a couple months ago and I am real pleased with his progress now with the 12-pounder," said club coach Mark Buchanan. "He had been throwing in the 30- to 31-foot range until the regional games."

In the same age group, Mike Trnka qualified for state with a second-place discus throw and a third-place high jump. Steven Kinka qualified with a third in the 1,500 meters.

P.J. Labarbera joined Trnka, Kinka and Gibbons to qualify for state in the 4x100 and 4x400 relays.

Renee Noyola, Carrie Joyce and Marietta Mitusina also qualified amng bantam girls 9-10.

Noyola finished second in the 800-meter run in a club-record 3:13.73. Less than 30 minutes later, she ran the 1,500, qualifying for state with a fourth-place finish. Then she helped set a club record in the 4-by-100 relay as the team finished second in 71.79 seconds.

Joyce also qualified for both the 800 and 1,500 meters.

Marietta Mitusina, a 10-year-old who has been with the club only a couple of months, won the 100 in 15 seconds and was second in the 200 in 31.5.

Megan Shute joined Mitusina, Noyola and Joyce on the qualifying 4x100 relay team.

In one of the largest fields, boys ages 13-14, Chris Buchanan placed fourth in the discus and 1,500 meters. His time of 5:48 was a club record.

Desean Lewis, Aikane Belez and Mike Thornton joined Buchanan to qualify the 4x400 relay.

Boyd Buchanan was the only club competitor in midget boys 11-12. He qualified in the 1,500 run with a second, and also was sixth in the shot put.

"We measure their progress by improvement on their personal-best times and most of them improved," said Buchanan. "That tells us they were ready for the meet and did well. We were especially pleased with Marietta's progress, because she is so new to the team.

"We are hoping to raise enough money to take all nine qualifiers to state, but to get them to nationals July 30-31 in Baton Rouge, La., we will need some help from the community, parents and friends," added Buchanan.

Swimming: Several members of the Carrollwood Swimming Team placed high in the first biathlon competition of the season.

The biathlon consists of a half-mile run, 100-meter swim and another half-mile run for youngsters 8-and-under; a half-mile run, 200-meter swim and half-mile run for ages 9-10; and a mile run, 300-meter swim and mile run for 11-18s.

Plant City athletes Emily Barker and Krystal Miranda placed first and second for girls 8-and-under in the recent competition at the Manatee Dolphins Swim Club. Payton Woodard and Molly Doyal, both from the Carrollwood club, placed first and third for girls 9-10.

Carrollwood swimmers Kristen Bolles, Christie Dykema and Traci Franssen took the first three spots for girls 11-12, and teammates Jocelynne Orr, Melissa Bradbury and Kallie Krusoe equaled the feat in girls 13-14.

For girls 15-18, Carrollwood's Sarah Lindsey was first and Jennifer Bobanic was third.

Carrollwood swimmers placing in boys competition included Brian Pippinger, third for 9-10-year-olds, and Douglass Sharpe and Ben Voiles, first and third in 11-12.

Scott Valins was second and John McKenny third for ages 13-14, and Scott Parlett was first and Andrew Valins second for ages 15-18.