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Figure skaters go for regional titles today in Oldsmar

The 1998 South Atlantic Regional Figure Skating Championships conclude tonight at the Tampa Bay Skating Academy in Oldsmar.

Since Tuesday, 400 skaters from 20 states have competed at the twin-rink facility for the top four positions in their event in order to advance either to the Eastern Sectional Championships or the U.S. Junior Olympics, depending on their level.

At sectionals, the top four skaters qualify for the U.S. National Championships where the U.S. Olympic Team will be selected.

"This competition is the first qualifying step toward nationals," said Lyn Edens, president of host Tampa Bay Skating Club. "We have 13 competitors this week that qualified for sectionals last year."

Lyn's daughter Shannon is one of the 13 and is competing for a second opportunity at the sectional. Last year, the 19-year-old advanced in figures and will again this year, and also hopes to compete in freestyle.

"Not many do figures anymore and this is the last year for them in competition," said Shannon, who began skating at age 9. "It's too bad, but jumps seem to be the new era. Without learning figures, I think it will be hard to pass Moves in the Field."

Without figures competition to teach edges and turns, Moves in the Field was instituted as a test structure by the U.S. Figure Skating Association in 1994. Even though there is no official competition in Moves in the Field, every skater must pass an appropriate test on patterns of edges, turns and spirals to take the corresponding free skating, pairs or dance test.

Shannon practices figures daily and credits coaches Agi Soderman and Lyndon Johnston for her advancement to the top-level senior ladies. In August, Shannon placed second in figures at a national collegiate competition.

In addition to competition, the second-year University of South Florida psychology major is a skating judge and coaches in both a Learn to Skate program and Moves in the Field.

"I guess skating gets in your blood," said Shannon. "I think I'll always be involved in some way."

Competition begins at 8 a.m. today and continues through 10 p.m. Call 854-4010 for more details.

DIVING: Suncoast Diving Club coach Shannon Eagan, hired in August, has scheduled events to enhance its program and encourage more participation. Eagan, a recent graduate of Boston University has planned off-season training for several collegiate teams at the Southwest Pool in Largo and plans to bid for a national tournament next year. To find out more about the club, call 587-6752.

GYMNASTICS: Gemini's Level 5 girls team was first overall in last weekend's Trick or Treat Meet at LaFleur's of Tampa; its Level 4 team was seventh. Kristy Carter was first all-around in Level 5 for Gemini, joined by Toni Burney (second), Alyssa Wright (third) and Alecia Pollina (fourth). Bethany Gedeon and Katie Zoccolo were seventh all-around in Level 4.

LaFleur's of Largo earned three first-place all-around awards: Bianca Nobel in Level 4 and Amanda Smolen and Meg Lucas in Level 5.

Top five all-around gymnasts in Level 4 included Alison Overcashier, Dana Berger, Kasey Golasewski, Lindsay LeCroix, Krista DeSantis, Jessica Grant, Kelly Hyland and Stacey Goff. Level 5 top-five all-around awards were earned by Brittany Hunt, Karrah Nobel, Nicole Mason, Lauren Beard and Kendall Lawson.

Kristina Low, a Level 5 gymnast Kristina Low, a Level 5 gymnast at Apollo, was second all-around in last weekend's Second AAU Qualifier in Brandon.

CYF BASKETBALL: Signups for Clearwater for Youth's basketball league for 8-15-year-olds are 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 8 and Nov. 15 at the Long Center. Placement evaluations begin Nov. 18, practice and games are Dec. 8-March 2. For more information, call 725-4004 or 562-4826.

TAE KWON DO: Larry Greco II of Clearwater won the Florida Adult Tae Kwon Do Championship last month. Greco also won the gold medal in the ninth annual J. Parks Master Championship in the 128-pound division.

BASEBALL: Chris Mauer, an eighth-grader at Our Lady of Lourdes School in Dunedin, led the baseball team to an 8-4 record and a second-place finish in the Pinellas Youth Conference. Mauer averaged .575 at bat and played pitcher, catcher, shortstop and centerfield. Andy Klein averaged over .500 in pitching wins while Dallas Schraibly, Jude Maloney, J.R. Ferraro and Jonathan Dittman provided strong field defense. Skycrest Baptist was first in the conference.

SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING: Introductory synchronized swimming classes begin Monday evening at the Long Center and Tuesday evening at Largo's Highland Pool. Participants may have the opportunity to swim in the Suncoast WaterWorks' annual holiday benfit show Dec. 6. Call 531-9451.