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SOCCER

Northern exposure

Much is made of the fertile field of girls soccer talent in Pasco County, but Hernando County teams began the Class 2A, District 6 tournament Monday with a statement: They can play too.

Hernando teams went 2-0 in the Monday quarterfinals. Yes, yes, one of those victories was a second-seeded and legitimately solid Springstead team destroying winless Wesley Chapel 8-0. Sixth-seeded Central's 2-0 upset of No. 3 Pasco was a bit more surprising, however.

A win Tuesday night by No. 4 Hernando over No. 5 Hudson would completely rid the tournament of Pasco teams _ except, of course, for top-seeded Zephyrhills, which received a first-round bye.

FOOTBALL

Not much to celebrate

National Signing Day doesn't look to be much of a holiday in the county, with no football signings expected at any of the three high schools.

The same goes for former Springstead receiver Huey Whittaker, now a freshman at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y. Whittaker, a first-team All-North Suncoast selection in 1998, is eligible to transfer to a Division I school, but said Tuesday he likely will wait until he comes home for spring break in March before he decides.

He might stay at HVCC for another year, but he's also considering the University of Central Florida, where coaches have told him a scholarship is waiting for him. Whittaker said another school he would consider would be Clemson. Tiger coaches left a message for him earlier this week .

WEIGHTLIFTING

Pound for pound

At Saturday's state weightlifting meet in Belleview, Central's Alaya Smiley and Stephanie Doyle were among only four lifters in the field to bench-press 20 pounds more than their own weight.

Smiley, competing in the 129-pound weight class, benched 155 pounds; teammate Elizabeth Medeiros was the only other lifter to come within 20 pounds. Doyle, competing in the 119-pound class, benched 140 pounds, the highest total in her class.

Dunnellon's Leslie Tester benched 155 pounds _ 25.4 pounds more than her weight _ but the tournament's best differential belonged to Lake Brantley's Jessica Sabia, who benched 210 pounds, which is more than 50 pounds above her weight.

The competition was strong enough in the 30-team field that nine schools in attendance left without scoring a single point.

TENNIS

High-strung now

Judy Jeanette of Strings & Things in Spring Hill has been named a Master Racquet Technician by the United States Racquet Stringers Association. It is the highest designation a racquet sports retailer can receive.

Brooksville's Louise Harres and Spring Hill's Mark Dickinson defeated Dieter Post (Spring Hill) and Rebecca Powell (Brooksville) 6-7, 6-1, 6-3 Sunday to win the Y2K-Swiss Mixed Doubles Tournament at GlenLakes.

Twenty-seven pairs competed in the tournament.

BEST BET

WHAT: Class 2A, District 6 boys soccer tournament.

WHO: Zephyrhills vs. Springstead.

WHEN: 6 p.m.

WHERE: Hudson High.

WHY: The second-seeded Eagles play their first game in the district tournament against a team Springstead coach John Bifulco respects. Bifulco said last week the third-seeded Bulldogs have the personnel _ and the quickness _ to make a surprise bid for the title. Springstead swept Zephyrhills in the regular-season series. Defense, as usual, will be the key for the Eagles. Springstead allowed an average of 1.06 goals per game in the regular season behind an experienced picket led by senior goalkeeper Pete Calabrese.

QUOTABLE

"You could kind of tell the intensity level was not there. Girls were out there talking and dancing."

_ BILL HORVATH

Springstead girls soccer coach on his team's 8-0 victory over Wesley Chapel in the first round of the Class 2A, District 6 tournament.

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