Hernando County is well-represented on the All-Gulf Coast Athletic Conference winter teams.
Though the county's GCAC schools, Central and Hernando, are a small portion of the seven-school conference, local players and coaches received top honors in all sports except one.
Particularly county-dominant were boys basketball, where the player of the year and both coaches of the year were local, and wrestling, where two of the three top wrestlers and one of two top coaches were local.
Kevin Welch was named the top boys basketball player. His expert ball-handling and senior leadership played a big role in advancing Central to its first region semifinal.
Welch's coach, John Sedlack, shared coach-of-the-year honors with Charlie Williams, who had a strong season with Hernando High. Also named to the team were Central's Doug Ivancsits and Hernando's Jay Pingley and Roy Vasquez.
Hernando's Richard Gant and Central's Mike Mallin shared wrestler-of-the-year honors with Lecanto's Nick Carrier. All three earned Class 4A state championships: Gant (36-2) at 125 pounds, Mallin (29-2) at 189, and Carrier (33-2) at 145.
First-year Hernando coach Matt Smith shared coach-of-the-year honors with Lecanto's Cory Collins. Smith led the Leopards to their highest team finish ever at state, tying for seventh place.
Also named to the team were Central's Jon Mikail, Jeremy Schuster, Jason Tarantino and Kenney Van Houten (undefeated in regular season); and Hernando's Jeff Carlsen, Courtney Elms (third at state), David Ellis, Matt Fogle, Keylow King and Kevin Tracy.
Walt Cermak was named coach of the year for leading the Hernando High girls basketball team to yet another accomplished season. The Leopards dominated area competitors and reached the region semifinals.
Lecanto's Tanya Jones was named player of the year, but Hernando had a team-high three players named to the select squad: Brittany Bell, Mable Brown and Tinsley Gordon. Central did not have any honorees.
Hernando's Lindsey Copeland was the almost unanimous selection for player of the year in girls soccer. One of two Leopards selected to the Florida Athletic Coaches Association Class 4A all-state team (along with goalkeeper Aliza Loveday), Copeland scored a school-record 28 goals in her senior season.
Also named to the team were Central's Abi Bell, Tracy Clarke, Heather Hamilton and Trecia Swanston, and Hernando's Kendall Enos, Tina Mena, Kristi Mule', Nola Rasper and Tracy Spell.
The only team where locals were shut out on top player and coach honors was boys soccer. However, named to the team were Central's Brandon Lauria, Billy Neilson, Scott Puttre and Gary Steiner, and Hernando's John David and Ryan Toombs.
The GCAC team is selected by coaches from the seven conference schools: Central, Citrus, Crystal River, Dunnellon, Hernando, Lecanto and South Sumter.
ALL-GCAC WINTER TEAMS
Central _ Tracy Clarke, Trecia Swanston, Abi Bell, Heather Hamilton; Citrus _ Maura Algeo, Dalila Gordon, Melody Fedor, Molly Keating, Jill Keating, Jodi Lott, Bethany Purdin; Crystal River _ Lanna Hough, Candice Bosworth; Hernando _ Lindsey Copeland, Kristi Mule', Nola Rasper, Kendall Enos, Tina Mena, Tracy Spell; Lecanto _ Ruth Ann Thomashunis, Lisa Troiano, Teresa Kane.
Player of the Year _ Lindsey Copeland, Hernando.
Coach of the Year _ Brady Bogart, Citrus.
Central _ Brandon Lauria, Billy Neilson, Gary Steiner, Scott Puttre; Citrus _ Jorge Camargo, Clint Stokes, Kyle Johnson, Billy Floyd, Ron Pekins, Jarred Albury, Andrei Feldt; Crystal River _ Paul Denigris, Mike Andrews, Andres Sandoval; Hernando _ John David, Ryan Toombs; Lecanto _ Richie Wright, Travis Tatman, Eric Brussell, Robbie Williams, Brian Furniss, Eddie Grant.
Player of the Year _ Richie Wright, Lecanto.
Coach of the Year _ Tony Albiero, Citrus.
Citrus _ Jessica Davila; Crystal River _ B.J. Snow, Amy Embree; Dunnellon _ Michacla Powell; Hernando _ Brittany Bell, Mable Brown, Tinsley Gordon; Lecanto _ Tanya Jones; South Sumter _ Brandi Davis, Tehesha Parsons.
Player of the Year _ Tanya Jones, Lecanto.
Coach of the Year _ Walt Cermak, Hernando.
Central _ Kevin Welch, Doug Ivancsits; Citrus _ Robby Armstrong, Chris Tenner; Crystal River _ Jimmy Grimsley, William Richardson; Hernando _ Jay Pingley, Roy Vasquez; Lecanto _ J.D. Neal, Joey Cox.
Player of the Year _ Kevin Welch, Central.
Coaches of the Year _ Charlie Williams, Hernando and John Sedlack, Central.
Central _ Jason Tarantino, Mike Tousey, Jon Mikail, Mike Mallin, Kenney Van Houten, Jeremy Schuster; Citrus _ Ed Yakich, Mike Tantillo, John Gebbia, David Perry, Gabe Hensley, Adam Rowley, Scott Turner; Crystal River _ Phoung Chau, Brandon Natteal, John Martynowski; Hernando _ Matt Fogle, Richard Gant, Courtney Elms, David Ellis, Keylow King, Kevin Tracy, Jeff Carlsen; Lecanto _ John Gamble, Jason McCumsey, Jon Shoemaker, Nick Carrier, Jason Barber.
Wrestlers of the Year _ Richard Gant, Hernando; Nick Carrier, Lecanto; Mike Mallin, Central.
Coaches of the Year _ Cory Collins, Lecanto, and Matt Smith, Hernando.