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Westlake eyes another league crown, records

Winning a fourth consecutive Pinellas Aquatic League championship today would be fine with Lisa Bitting.

It would be especially nice for the Westlake Village Swim Club coach if the title included personal records from her athletes.

"We work all summer so the swimmers can do their personal bests," said Bitting, who is in her sixth year with the program.

"If we accomplish that goal, then anything else is icing on the the cake," she said.

The PAL Championships at the Long Center in Clearwater began Saturday and conclude this afternoon. Bardmoor Aquatic Team is serving as the host to seven clubs and more than 700 competitors.

"The Westlake Village Swim Team is certainly favored on the strength of its numbers, bringing 185 swimmers to the meet," Bardmoor coach Tom Haight said.

"It looks like it's going to be a fun meet. A number of the clubs have experienced various degrees of success throughout the summer."

The other squads challenging for the crown are Countryside Country Club Aquatic, Carlouel Yacht Club, East Lake Woodlands Aquatic, Lansbrook and St. Petersburg Country Club.

"We have a real healthy mix of swimmers among the 700 kids," Haight said, "and we may see some records broken, although it's hard to predict.

"We have some swimmers back in their same age group for the second year, so some may," he said. "We do have some top-notched swimmers competing."

Bitting agrees.

"Our times have been consistently faster through the summer, so it's possible we might break some records," she said.

"We've been fine-tuning this week, so we'll see how it goes."

Today's competition begins at 8:30 a.m. The finals are scheduled to start at 4:30 p.m.

MORE SWIMMING: East Lake Woodlands won the Strawberry Invitational in Lakeland with a score of 970.5.

Bardmoor was third with 694 points, Countryside fourth (661) and Westlake sixth (638).

Other local finishers were Dunedin Aquatic Club, eighth; Carlouel, 10th; West Florida Lightning Aquatics, 12th; and Clearwater Aquatic Team, 14th.

In all, 32 squads participated in the annual meet.

Among the high-point winners were Dunedin's Aubrey Haas, in the 6-and-under division; Kelsey Buckley, 8-and-under; and Henry Samuel, 11-12; Bardmoor's Amanda Miller, in the 11-12 bracket; and Westlake's Blake Freeman, in 10-and-under.

Other top-five performers were Clearwater's Sarah Hughes and Catherine Wegner, in the 6-and-under class; Rebecca Howard, 10-and-under; and Julianne Tsargaris, 11-12; Dunedin's Myah Farrington, in 10-and-under; and Zachary Perrotti, 8-and-under; Bardmoor's Jessica Brown and Josh Gordon, in 13-14; Carlouel's Jared Brown, in 8-and-under; East Lake's Taylor Frazier, in 8-and-under; Lauren Ellington, 13-14; and Sam Venker, 10-and-under; Countryside's Stephen Sabadosh and Stephen Tsargaris, in 10-and-under; Westlake's Aaron Brecher, in 13-14; and WFLA's Mary Anne Thomas, in senior.

DIVING: Austin Hampton and Alex Tillbrook qualified for this month's Junior Olympic National Championships in Stanford, Calif.

Hampton captured a berth by finishing second in the platform event, third on the 1-meter and fourth on the 3-meter in the 14-15 division of the U.S. Zone Championships. Tillbrook was seventh on the 1-meter and fifth on the 3-meter in the 16-18 competition.

Clearwater Aquatic Team member Cody Dodds placed ninth on the 1-meter and 15th on the 3-meter in the 13-and-under class. In the squad's other 1-meter results, Jessica Rettig was 17th in 14-15, Kaila Johnston 23rd in 16-18, and Josh Matson 19th in 16-18.

BASEBALL Standout pitcher Molly McKesson, 16, of St. Petersburg is a member of the Team USA roster for the second time.

The squad will participate in the Women's International Baseball Association World Series, Sept. 2-8 in St. Petersburg.

McKesson, a Gibbs High School junior, is the first girl to compete in baseball in the Pinellas County Athletic Conference.

+ The Tampa Bay Renegades, a 9-and-under Clearwater team, finished third out of 40 squads in a national championship.

Led by the pitching from Zack Johnston, Casey Turgeon, Chris Frey and Joe Marcus Woods, the Renegades produced a 7-2 overall record.

Strong defense and offense from Anthony Greco, Tyler Kellmann, Andrew Fisher, Brad Dunham, Eric Langevin and Frey contributed to a 3-2 win over the Jupiter Hammerheads in the third-place playoff.

Tampa Bay is coached by Jerry Frey.

BASKETBALL: The Clearwater Lady Heatwave 12-and-under team tied for 13th in the Youth Basketball of America National Championships in Lakeland.

Players included Mary Kohutek, Sarah White, Desiree Santiago, Jenae Swann, Lauren Lee, Morgan Schmoyer and Kellie VanPatten.

The squad was coached by Lean Seay and Terri Dolph.

The Heatwave's year saw two tournament wins, a runner-up finish and two third-place performances in regular-season tourneys, as well as a third in the AAU state event.

VOLLEYBALL: Sloane Baby of Clearwater participated in a high-performance camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

She was selected from a tryout in Orlando.

This past year, Baby played for Oak Grove Middle School's unbeaten team. She competed with the Tampa Bay Juniors 15-and-under squad in a national tournament this summer in Salt Lake City.

SYNCHRONIZED SWIMMING: Suncoast WaterWorks swimmers were among nearly 1,100 athletes in the Esynchro Age Group Championships in Seattle.

More than 70 clubs competed in the nine-day event.

A 10th-place finish was earned by the 12-13 duet of Keeley Lawner and Abbie Zohn. StaceyDavidson, Kendall Carey, Lawner and Zohn took 18th in the 14-15 team competition.

Nichole Lee and Rachel Rooth were 10th in their 14-15 duet, and they swam with Andrea Patterson tofourth in 14-15 trio.

Darcee Kingsley and Patterson placed 18th in 14-15 duet, and Jamie Freshour and Meredith Cooke were 10th in 16-17 duet.

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