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Ice skaters to fill SunBlades today for amateur event

More than 200 skaters from 4 to 70 years of age are at SunBlades Ice Arena in Clearwater today for the ninth annual Ice Skating Institute of America amateur competition. The event is the largest ever at SunBlades and has drawn skaters from Miami to New Jersey.

Beginning competitors to highly skilled skaters will compete in figures, freestyle, footwork, dance, compulsory, interpretive and showcase categories.

"Saturday's events include the popular and crowd-pleasing showcase category," said Frances Duroure, SunBlades' competition director. "In showcase, skaters depict a character or person and use all kinds of props. It's quite entertaining and the public is certainly invited."

Among today's skaters will be a five-member family and a mother-daughter pair. Exhibitions will be performed by national skater Nicole Wasilewski and Vanessa Valle, currently featured in the Busch Gardens Ice Show.

Orsi wins golds: Jennifer Orsi, a 14-year-old skater at SunBlades, recently won two gold medals in the Sunshine State Games. A novice-level skater, she won the technical and long-program events.

"It's fun to compete," said Orsi. "I started skating nine years ago for fun and found I really liked it."

She said competitions such as this weekend's at SunBlades will help her progress toward her goal of reaching the national level.

Other skaters earning gold at the Sunshine State Games, an event considered by some to be the state championships for ice skating, were Eddie Wolfson, Maria Gaudiel, Sheldon Wolfson, Bonnie Rostad, Russell Gaudiel, Lofton Alvarez and Valerie Maurer. Eddie Wolfson also won a silver and Maria Gaudiel earned a bronze.

Other silver medalists were Katie Dierks and Megan McNeil. Mallory E. Schuh won two bronze medals and Ashleigh Pugh, Nicole Purdy, Shannon McNeil, Tawny Walker and Tabitha Haputa each won one. Fourth-place awards were earned by Lauren Balcuk and Lindsay Alvarez.

Track and field: Nicole Goff, Brian Calder and Kevin Humphreys won their respective events in the Junior Olympics qualifying meet in Bradenton last weekend. Also qualifying were Brandi Bianco, Janis Zach and Stacey Goff. The state championships are next month in Tampa.

Twenty-five members of the Lightning Bolt Youth Track Club qualified for the Hershey Track and Field district meet July 1 in Tampa. Thirty-eight will compete in the July 7 AAU Junior Olympics national qualifier in Gainesville.

Among the qualifiers are Tamika Bradford, James Jones, Altanese Bradford, Nadia Covington, Shequita Gibbs, Lekisiear Thomas, Eddie Joseph, Tony Brown, Latoya Jordan, Stacy Smith and Michelle Gilkes.

Basketball: The Clearwater All-Stars finished third in the AAU State Tournament in Cocoa Beach this month and qualified for the national championships next month in Cocoa Beach.

Justin Barnaky, Chase Bodden and Robby Waters led the scoring, and Bodden, Barnaky and Gregg Cummings were defensive standouts.

Clearwater defeated Titusville 58-38, the Melbourne Bulls 63-49, and Southwest Florida 35-32 before losing 45-42 to eventual champion YCA South Beaches Heat.

Andy Park and Walters shared point guard duties and were aided by James Andreson, Tyson McEldowney, Aaron Hammond and Jon Holt. Barnaky was named to the all-tournament team.

Diving: Sarah Close was fifth in 3-meter competition in the Moose Moss Diving Invitational held this month in Moultrie, Ga. Close placed seventh in platform diving and Caroline Vaughn was ninth. Other local divers who qualified for the invitational were Jodi Gillespie, Rachel Rogers and Aaron Hon.

Synchronized swimming: Eighteen area swimmers are in Orlando today competing in the U.S. Age Group Championships among 1,200 swimmers. Susan Greenfield and Lorna Fountain are in the 18-19 age division; Jeanne Drapala, Cara Burns, Cathy Cady, Jane Pereverzoff, Carly Hollan and Elizabeth Viana in 16-17; Diana Paulk and Alexandra Sevilano in 14-15; Jennifer Ansinger, Katie Byrne, Miranda Davidson, Kerri Dolan, Yvonne Paulk, Cindy Lopera, Amanda Wilkins and Venice Kilisanly in 12-13.

Swimmers qualified for the championships based on performances in association, regional and zonal competitions. Figures, team, trio, duet and solo categories will be held during the 10-day event.

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