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LSU's Martinjak seeks SEC crown in gymnastics

Terin Martinjak (Clearwater) dabbled in a lot of different sports until she decided to concentrate on gymnastics around the age of 10.

Now a senior at LSU, Martinjak's focus is directed toward finishing her collegiate career with the same strong effort she began with as a freshman in 2003.

"Terin absolutely has contributed to the team as I expected she would," said D-D Breaux, LSU's coach since 1977. "She's very self-disciplined and self-motivated. Plus, she's very smart. It's been fun watching Terin grow and mature while keeping things in perspective.

"It's so nice for her that in her senior year, this may be her most competitive. Terin has improved in consistency each year and picked up this year where she let off last."

Among Martinjak's individual highlights are second-team All-America selection last year and scoring a perfect 10.0 on the balance beam and floor exercise her sophomore season.

"I'm not much on individual goals, but focus more on our team," said Martinjak, 21. "As the team gets higher qualifying scores and we move up in ranking, that helps us with our seeding in the conference championships coming up."

LSU is ranked No. 11 with four meets remaining including today's with Centenary before the SEC Championships begin March 24. Team finishes in the SEC since Martinjak came on board include fourth, third and second. Martinjak hopes for a first-place finish.

"The SEC is a very tough conference with a lot of strong competition," Martinjak said. "For us to be successful, we need to be consistent and do the little things right. To be successful, about 90 percent of it is mental.

"At this point, we've all been training forever and know the routines. What we have to do is be able to perform well under pressure, and that's the mental side."

Martinjak, though an all-around competitor, is most consistent on the beam and floor, she said, and credits Mary Linnemeyerand Brad Harris, owners and directors of Tampa Bay Turners, with preparing her for college gymnastics. Martinjak also credits her early training at a gym in Texas.

"I actually started gymnastics when I was about 2 years old," Martinjak said. "My parents were always finding me climbing on the furniture and they decided to put my energy to good use.

"In high school, it was hard juggling school activities and a club sport. In college, it's actually been easier, because everything is in close proximity. Choosing LSU was pretty easy, especially with having two Tampa Bay Turners teammates ( Lauren Campanioniand Lindsay Beddow) already here."

Martinjak, who has made the SEC Academic Honor Roll since her sophomore year, plans to take her fifth year at LSU and add a biology minor to her kinesiology major. Then she will apply to medical school.

SOFTBALL: Dani Hofer (Palm Harbor University) was named SEC Freshman of the Week after the right-hander's performance for LSU in two recent games. Hofer struck out 12, allowed just one run in 10 hits to earn a 0.50 ERA. Overall, Hofer is 4-0 with a 0.54 ERA.

BASEBALL: Opening day for team captain Zach Wendkos (Shorecrest) and his Princeton teammates is March 3 vs. the Citadel. Last year, the senior was third in hitting with a .328 average and was selected second-team all-Ivy.

+ Judd Loveland (Clearwater/Florida CC) is a student assistant coach for North Florida. Last year, Loveland helped North Florida to a second-place finish in the Division II national championship.

+ North Florida catcher Brandon Diaz (Clearwater Central Catholic) hit a sacrifice fly in the 10th inning to break a 3-all tie with No. 17 LSU. The junior is averaging .300 in the Osprey's first five games.

+ Left-hander Ben Pincus (Boca Ciega/Tennessee Tech) is a senior reliever for North Florida.

+ Eckerd junior Grant Massie(Seminole) hit a three-run home run in a 20-4 loss to No. 14 Tampa. In the second game, the starting third baseman hit a solo homer.

BASKETBALL: Starting guard Jen Hansen (Seminole) scored 10 points for Army in 22 minutes of a 66-65 win over Bucknell.

+ Stetson guard Gabe McMillen(Indian Rocks Christian) connected on a 3-pointer in overtime to break a 72-all tie with North Florida. The junior recorded 13 points in the 81-77 win.

+ Freshman forward Danielle Kostacky (Clearwater) collected a career-high six points in 16 minutes of play for Texas Pan-American in a 57-48 loss to North Colorado.

+ In November, starter Dalen Cuff (East Lake) kicked off his senior season by scoring 18 points to lead Columbia to a 73-71 win over Troy in its classic and was named to the all-tournament team a second straight year. On the season, the guard is averaging 3.3 points in 17.2 minutes.

TRACK: Howard's Lauren McNary (Palm Harbor University) set a meet record in the 400 meters and qualified for the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Indoor Championships at the Bucknell Invitational. McNary was on the winning 4x400 relay team. At the MEAC championships, McNary won the 400-meter race in 54.78 seconds to qualify for the national indoor championships.

+ Ashlee Kidd (St. Petersburg) and her Georgia Tech teammates are competing in the ACC Indoor Championships through today. The junior holds the ACC's top time in the 200-meter dash (23.51) and is second in the 60 meters (7.47) and 400 meters (53.89).

+ Abbie Harms (Lakewood) was the U.S. Coast Guard Academy's top finisher in the Division III New England Championships. The freshman placed fifth in the 600 meters.

WRESTLING: After losing a decision to Brown University this month, Harvard's Wes Walker(Countryside) led off with a pin against Sacred Heart at 174 pounds.

SWIMMING: Tulane's Leeann Laing (Seminole) swam a lifetime best in the 500-yard freestyle event in a time of 5:05.8 against C-USA opponent Houston. The sophomore was second in the 200 fly and 200 free events.

News for this column may be faxed to Nancy Morgan, 796-5559; e-mailed to namorgan46msn.com, or sent to 710 Court St., Clearwater, FL 33756. Please include phone number.

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