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Synchronized swimmers are lauded

The Suncoast WaterWorks team won its first U.S. Synchronized Swimming South Zone Championship this month in Richmond, Va.

Nine of 11 routines finished in the top 10; the senior team won its division; and the juniors finished among the top 10.

"We've won other awards, but winning this is totally different," said Cathy Cady, a 10-year veteran of synchronized swimming with the Largo-based Suncoast club and a senior at Gibbs High School. "When I first started swimming, I had no clue we could achieve this."

Cady, 18, describes herself as a natural ham who loves to sing and dance. Synchronized swimming allows her to perform, as does her musical theater group at Gibbs. In fact, Cady has an audition in May at Walt Disney World for a position as either a dancer or a Disney character.

"Karen (Paulk, the coach) told us that if we put our minds to it and focused, we could win," Cady said of the zone competition. "We went as a team _ not individuals _ and it worked."

Cady swam on the senior team with Cara Burns, Danielle DelBello, Lorna Fountain, Diana Paulk, Jane Perverzoff, Alexandra Sevillano and Susan Greenfield.

"We had about a 1{-point lead after the routines," said Greenfield, 19. "It was a touchy lead because we knew we had worked harder on routines than figures."

Nevertheless, Suncoast finished ahead of Texas (last year's team winner) and the University of Richmond. Texas won the overall All-Point Trophy by a mere three points over Suncoast.

In solo competition, Fountain was third, Burns sixth, Greenfield ninth and Paulk 10th. The duet team of Fountain and Greenfield were second and Paulk and Sevillano were sixth. Nondi Garrett, Evonne Paulk and Amanda Wilkins were ninth in the trio event.

Coach Paulk was particularly proud of the finish of the junior (14- to 15-year olds) squad, which placed in the top 10 among older and more experienced competitors. Team members were Jennifer Amsinger, Kara Clemens, Garrett, Veniece Kilissanly, Evonne Paulk, Dana Rosenfeld, Kristi Whichter and Wilkins.

SPORTS MONTH: Gov. Lawton Chiles has proclaimed this month as Youth Sports Month, in cooperation with the Florida Alliance for Youth Sports.

In recognition of residents throughout the state who volunteer their time to youth in sports, today's column recognizes Dave Partelo and his association with the Azalea Eagles youth soccer.

Partelo recently completed his 21st year of coaching youth teams and this year led the under-19 Azalea boys squad to the Gulfcoast Youth Soccer Association American Cup championship _ his first as a head coach.

Partelo began coaching with his son, Rob, 26, and his daughter Amy, 23. Son Danny is a member of the championship team. Partelo's wife, Bonnie, co-coached over the years.

BASKETBALL: Five area teams competed in this month's Florida Youth Basketball State Tournament in Orlando. The girls 12-and-under team from Roberts won the state title; Lakewood Junior Spartans were runners up in the 11-and-under; the Seminole AAU 13-and-under won the consolation.

Roberts girls defeated three teams for the title with all players contributing to the team championship, coach Chuck Jensen said. Players were Kelcey Roegeirs-Jensen, Megan East, Dominique Redding, Jenny Brazzell, Brittany Lambeth, Roseanne Tullo and Mary Shaw.

Last weekend, three Clearwater for Youth AAU girls teams competed in a tournament in Venice. The 12-and-under won, the 15-and-under was second and the 11-and-under was fourth.

Roegeirs-Jensen, Brazzell, East, Lambeth and Redding are also members of the 12-and-under AAU squad.

BASEBALL: St. Petersburg's AAU 15-and-under baseball team is 6-0 with four wins over the Tampa Bay Sharks and two over the Tampa Bay Rays. Winning pitchers include Jeff Probst, Tony Spittle, Boof Bonser, Mike Thackery and Jason Natale.

The St. Petersburg AAU team, coached by Richard Stephens, Chris McBee, Neil Stephens and Don Brannon, was ranked second in the state this season. The team travels to Merritt Island this weekend for a doubleheader.

GYMNASTICS: Denise Wedin was first all-around in Level 8 recreational at this month's Gasparilla Classic in Tampa. Other first-place all-around performances were by Courtney LaCroix (Level 8), Mary Katherine Radin (Level 8), Brittney Lewis (Level 8 recreational) and Krissy Dreger (Level 10). Event winners included Margaret Dann (floor), Dreger (vault and floor), LaCroix (vault, bars and floor), Jessica Beckman (beam), Jayme Lauricella (vault and bars), Jessica Bannon (floor), Radin (beam), Summer Hubbard (bars), Lewis (vault and floor), Laura Howenstein (bars), Amanda Crane (beam) and Nicole Fauri (vault and floor).

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