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Athletes enjoy successful year

Here's a reflection on the accomplishments of youth in sports as the year 2000 makes its exit:

BASEBALL _ The Clearwater Slammers 10-and-under team was fifth among 32 squads in the AAU Junior Olympic National Championships.

BASKETBALL _ The First Lutheran School in Clearwater won the state title and advanced to the First Lutheran Schools National Championship, placing sixth in a field of 26.

The middle school team captured the 1991 national crown and was fifth in 1992.

+ The Clearwater for Youth Green Wave squads took first in the 15-and-under division of the AAU State Championships.

The Green Wave was second in the division for 10-, 11- and 18-year-olds. It was third in the 12 and 13 classes.

Clearwater advanced to the AAU Nationals in all but the division for 12-year-olds. That team finished third in the Youth Basketball of America national competition.

BMX RACING _ Amanda Geving, 11, won a state championship in the cruiser category and was fourth in the 20-inch class. She traveled to Argentina to compete in the World Racing Championships.

BOYS GYMNASTICS _ Colin Christ, a Class-3 competitor at the Gemini School of Gymnastics, finished 15th overall in the USAG National Championships.

Christ won a gold medal on the still rings among 113 competitors and was second on the horizontal bar.

+ Evan Cooke in Class 6 from Gemini and Alex Khoury and Jason Pierce in Class 2 from the Apollo School of Gymnastics qualified for USAG Regional Championships at the state meet.

Others from Gemini at state were Joshua Matson and Jeremiah Hodges in Class 3A; Troy Deloach in Class 4; Stephen Hamden, Jonathan Foster and Andrew Mark in Class 5; and Eric Michael, Evan Cooke and Isaiah Coughlin in Class 6.

Other state qualifiers from Apollo were Mark Ophaug in Class 1; Kyle Blitch in Class 3; Joshua Abdala in Class 4; Victor Valenty in Class 5; Jordan Loscalzo, Jacon Wolf, Grant Brittain and Jeremy Roberson in Class 6; and Jesse Scott, Tomily Bourgoing, Bradley Hutson, Peter Riedt and James VanCleve III in Class 7.

DIVING _ Katie Smolen, Lauren Permuy, Amanda Smolen, Mark Moss, Rachel Korth, Austin Hampton and Ryan Troup reached the U.S. Junior Olympic Zone Championships.

Hampton and Troup advanced to national competition, in which Hampton won a silver medal in the 1-meter event.

+ Sunshine State Games winners included Colleen Sears, Janice Haramis, Ryan Schomburg, Kaila Johnston and Cody Dodds.

FOOTBALL _ In the 33rd season of the Pinellas Youth Football Conference, the St. Pete 'Lil Devils captured the titles in the Flyweight, Pee Wee and Midget divisions and Largo took the Mighty Mite championship.

+ The Suncoast Youth Football Conference saw Clearwater win the Flyweight crown, Countryside the Mighty Mite and Midget titles and Dunedin the Pee Wee championship.

+ In the Game of Champions against conference winners from Hillsborough, the 'Lil Devils won Flyweight, Countryside took Mighty Mite and Dunedin the Pee Wee.

GIRLS GYMNASTICS _ The Apollo School of Gymnastics won the Level 5 AAU state championship and was second in Level 4.

Leading Level 5 for Apollo were Alyssa Cory, Elizabeth Foley and Laura Piehl. Level-4 leaders were Stephanie Hessling, Katie Wolf, Kelly Wilsey and Kendra Miller.

+ LaFleur's of Largo nabbed its second consecutive Level 5 championship on the performances of Alyssa Collins, Nicole Abdo and Jordyn Wright.

Other top-10 all-around placements for LaFleur's were from Wekiva Thomas, Danielle Kazakos, Jamie Applefield, Heather Dawsey, Marissa Tomilonus, Kaitlin Doulou, Lisa Leone, Brittany Vargo and Stacy Gollinger.

LaFleur's was second in Level 4, followed by Gemini.

All-around champions from LaFleur's were Kaley LaFleur, Brynn Fullmer, Ashleigh Johansen and Alana Rivera.Lauryn Kannard of Gemini was a champ.

Jodie Heinicka finished sixth in the Level 10 national championships. Lesley Valenty and Cassie Hammock competed in the Level 9 nationals with Valenty winning the vault. Whitney Eberhardt took the Level 8 regional all-around title and the vault, and Amanda Ozack was third all-around.

ICE HOCKEY _ The Tampa Bay Junior Lightning Bantam team, comprised of players 14 and under, was the first area squad to advance to the North American Silver Stick Finals in Michigan.

Tampa won the Sunshine State Games championship. The organization was a runner-up in the Pee Wee (12 and under) and Squirt (10 and under) divisions.

ICE SKATING: Dana Karelus won the overall senior division in the South Atlantic Regional Championships to qualify for the Eastern Sectional Championships in Marlboro, Mass.

LIFE GUARD COMPETITION _ The first event at Fort DeSoto Park attracted about 40 competitors.

Jessica Masters, Robert Buck, Victoria King, Tracy Rorer and Jordan Clay finished first in their respective divisions.

SKIING _ Christina Dicus competed in the USSA Junior 1 and 2 Finals, an elite racing event, and placed sixth in downhill, ninth in Super G, seventh in Slalom and 13th in giant slalom.

SOCCER _ The Clearwater Chargers advanced eight teams to the Florida Youth Soccer Association (FYSA) State Cup. Countryside qualified two and Palm Harbor one.

+ The Osceola Youth Soccer Association under-12 boys won the Gulfcoast Youth Soccer Association (GYSA) Cup.

+ The Countryside Lightning under-12 girls and Largo United Wolves under-18 were winners in the FYSA Presidents Cup.

+ Winners in the Countryside Easter Invitational included Countryside's under-10, -14, -16 and -18 girls and the under-16 boys, as well as the Clearwater Chargers under-14 boys.

SOFTBALL _ The Clearwater Bullets 18-and-under team was fifth in a field of 146 in the National Softball Association World Series.

SWIMMING _ Robert Margalis was named Florida's Swimmer of the Year in the long and short course seasons. He wasFlorida's Senior Swimmer of the Year.

+ Westlake Village defended its Pinellas Aquatic League championship and won the girls and boys competitions.

+ Countryside Country Club scored another Private Club League title and defended its PCL Relays championship.

SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING _ Evonne Paulk and Liz Anne Markman won the 16-17 duet national title in the Baquacil Age Group Championships in California.

TRACK AND FIELD _ Latecia Hardy won a gold medal in pole vault competition for 15-16-year-olds in the AAU Junior Olympic National Championships.Alton Taylor was fifth in the eight-and-under 400-meter race.

TWIRLING _ Third-year competitor Irene DeGroat, 7, won the national pom title in the Drum Majorettes of America.

VOLLEYBALL _ The Clearwater YMCA Girls Volleyball Club won nine consecutive matches and the 16-and-under title among 32 teams in the East Coast Championships at Penn State.

+ The Gulf Coast Juniors Volleyball Club's 18 Red team won the President's Day Tournament. The organization's squad of 17-year-olds won their division in the Peachtree Classic.

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