Rosano ride continues;
3-0 over Creekside
FLEMING ISLAND - Fleming Island High soccer forward Kaitlyn Scherer scored two goals to back a strong performance from keeper Mackenzie Kirk as Fleming Island seized a lead and held on for a 3-2 victory over visiting Creekside in a Class 6A Region 1 Semifinal Fri., Feb. 19. The win continues the incredible first season of head coach Joy Rosano, herself a former Fleming Island Final Four soccer player.
“Kaitlyn has great vision and a killer shot,” said Rosano. “She is not scared to take a long shot. Mackenzie was exceptional.”
Rosano had warned her charges not to underestimate the Knights, who Fleming Island had defeated 3-2 early in the season and 3-0 in the District 3-6A final on February 5. Her words proved wise, as Creekside came out aggressively and controlled the action in the first half. After nine minutes in which neither team mustered a shot, the Knights had several near misses. A long cross from midfielder Avery Robinson was just out of reach of a charging Paige McSwigan. Then a header by Hayden Petrick and a long shot by Olivia Surrency landed on top of the goal. Kirk kept the Golden Eagles in the game with four saves in the first 40 minutes.
Lady Knights state run ends
LAKELAND - A decided rebounding deficit proved fatal to the Oakleaf High girls basketball team as Plant High out of Tampa ran the numbers on the inside to beat the Knights 69-52 in the Class 7A semifinal on Friday at Lakeland’s Civic Center.
“We’ve played some teams with big players; Plant was just the better team today,” said Oakleaf coach Fred Cole. “It was hard on the kids after the game, but I tried to encourage them to think about what they have accomplished this season and let it sink in. A lot of teams wished they were here.”
Plant High outrebounded Oakleaf 46-19 to take the win under the boards despite 26 points from sophomore guard Taliah Scott.
Plant was led by their senior ace Nyla Jean, who matched Scott’s 26 points for the contest. Plant also got 21 points from Vanderbilt commit Kendal Cheesman. Jean is a commit to Georgia State University.
Spartans go overtime to win region
ORANGE PARK - Going back to the first game of the season against the Maclay Marauders, the St. Johns Country Day Spartans succumbed to a first half single goal that they could not equal. On Fri., Feb. 23, St. Johns got a second shot at Tallahassee Maclay as the two paired off and held the crowd hostage on their edge of their seats to a highly physical, drama filled outcome.
“This is what high school soccer is all about,” said Spartan’s Head Coach Brad Schmidt.
The spectacle needed both overtime periods, and finally a last-shot-to-win penalty kick shoot out to finally earn the Spartans a two-two victory, the Regional Championship, and a berth to the State Championship final four. St. Johns won their state semifinal 4-0 over St. Edwards.
In the shootout, each team has a single player go to the penalty kick spot to shoot on the opposing Keeper.
In the final round, the crowd did their job as best they could with a thunderous distraction, but Maclay would again beat Pickett to tie it up at three. Enter Luke Graston who was hot all game. Graston looked over the entire goal, put his head down to not give away his spot, and pounded a shot past the Keeper for the coveted victory, sending the crowd into pandemonium, charging onto the field.
Rodriguez gets his gold; Hoskinson beats unbeaten
KISSIMMEE - Ridgeview High senior Matthew Rodriguez finally, after two runnerup finishes, got his gold medal while Clay High’s Cale Hoskinson, also a senior, faced off and beat an unbeaten opponent as both wrestlers won state titles Saturday in Kissimmee.
“Yes sir, it’s been a long journey,” said Rodriguez, twice a Class 1A runnerup after a third place as a freshman. “I’ve come close the past couple of years and I just touched it in my first try as a freshman. I knew it was going to be about how much I wanted to win it.”
For Hoskinson, third last year at 152 and 42-2 this season at 160, the championship match looked to be similar to Hoskinson’s battle with Robert E. Lee High’s 2020 state runnerup Ahmahd Denmark at the Clay Rotary as he faced off against unbeaten Terrell Taylor. 29-0 and fourth last year at 160. Denmark, third at 160 in 2A on Saturday, offered a muscular, athletic foe for Hoskinson that Hoskinson went into a bloodied overtime to defeat in the Clay Rotary final.
“He looked very similar to Ahmahd and I know that that match would be good for my confidence for the rest of the season,” said Hoskinson. “I just relied on my craft work and wrestled my guy.”
Briley wins state lift title in dominant fashion
KISSIMMEE - With a state record bench press, Oakleaf High senior Tamira Briley fulfilled the chatter about her running the table about district, region and state champion with a 15 pound win for the Class 3A 110-pound championship at the FHSAA championship weekend in Kissimmee and Live Oak.
“Having lifted 180 during the season, I kind of felt the pressure of having to have a big lift at the state meet,” said Briley, who now returns to the track for Oakleaf High School as a sprinter. “Me and coach (Ben White) knew we had to bench press enough to make the girl from Vero Beach (runnerup Sarah Eisworth) have to attempt a clean and jerk 30-40 pounds above her best.”
Briley, who had lifted 180 on the bench press during the season, which was a regular season best, cleared 175 on Saturday to lift the playoff record of 170 and give herself a 40 pound lead into the clean and jerk.
“She dominated,” said White. “Our entire two week preparation prior to the state meet was to make that girl from Vero Beach clean more than what we thought that she could do. We got up on her by 30 pounds. We could tell psychologically that Tamira was ready to roll. Tamira knew what the target was.”
Three get gold in wrestling finals
KISSIMMEE - Clay High junior wrestler Madisyn Blackburn did not get her anticipated rematch with the rival she wanted, but the unbeaten Blue Devil grappler came home with a gold medal as she joined two Orange Park High wrestlers; Tayana Labady and Andrea Smith in bringing home the bling from Saturday’s girls wrestling state championships held in Orlando.
“I thought about going up in weight to 134 this season, but I really wanted to wrestle the Mater Lakes Academy girl (defending champion Carolyna Bellon) to avenge last year,” said Blackburn, in an interview during the Clay Rotary two weeks ago. “She knocked me out of the final and I finished third last year.”
For Orange Park coach Justin Daniels, who finished a whirlwind weekend of boys district wrestling and girls state wrestling action, upper weight wrestlers Tayana Labady (222) and Andrea Smith (285) both made Daniels’ stress worthwhile with their gold medals, respectively.
“Tayana came to us from Rhode Island and has been a great training partner for Andrea,” said Daniels, who revealed that he went to Kissimmee while his staff went to the boys districts in Tallahassee. “At the state meet, Andrea was not on weight and had to wrestle up because Tayana was going in at 222.”
Fleming Island notches team title; three champions
FLAGLER PALM COAST - Fleming Island High wrestling coach P.J. Cobbert has had the best of a few worlds the past decade or so as the Golden Eagles’ wrestling leader, but 2020, according to Cobbert has been one of the most challenging seasons in his 12 year tenure, but one thing remains.
“A lot of people thought this year with COVID and a strong graduating class would be the one where we might slip a little and maybe be vulnerable,” said Cobbert, as his Golden Eagles again took care of business by running away with the region 1-3A championship for a sixth year with three champions crowned; Hunter Herrington, Hunter Williams and Ethan Hofstetter. “We just keep grinding and believe in the process.”
At the region meet, Fleming Island, prior to the finish of the semifinal rounds, was in a five point tussle with Orlando’s best challengers in Timber Creek, who Fleming Island beat in the state duals tournament to advance to the Final Four, and Lake Mary.
“We had a bunch in the semifinals and that got us points and four guys in the finals,” said Cobbert.
Lady Spartans blast to 10th title
DELAND - With barely enough time to work up a sweat, the St. Johns Country Day School girls soccer team bolted to a 2-0 lead within the first 90 seconds of play in their Class 2A championship game against Canterbury High en route to a 6-0 final score. The title was the 10th in a row for the Lady Spartans and for coach Mike Pickett. Pickett now has 13 state titles.
“This season will always have an asterisk next to it because of all the adversity we went through to get here,” said Pickett. “We missed a good part of the season; a bunch of quality games and finished with just 13 regular season games. It is a testament to the 10 seniors on the team.”
In the ensuing Class 2A boys championship game, Canterbury returned the favor with a 4-0 win over St. Johns with the first half locked at 0-0.
With senior forward Paige Crews taking the opening kickoff and three Spartan midfielders; Mia Sadler, Bella Pontieri and Lauren Weiss, dashing down the sideline toward the Canterbury goal, St. Johns took just 15 seconds for Pontieri to spin left and loft a left-footed shot toward the front of the goal where Sadler finished off the play with a header to the net as the Canterbury stood stunned by the absolute speed of the ball from the 50 to the net.
Rodgers seventh in national hurdles (NAIA)
YANKTON, SD - Fleming Island High graduate and state champion hurdler Glenn Rodgers, now a sophomore at Southeastern University, finished seventh to earn All-American honors at the NAIA Indoor Track and Field National Championships in Yankton, ND, on Saturday.
Rodgers, a 110 High Hurdles state champion for the Golden Eagles finished as fifth fastest qualifier of the preliminaries heats with an 8.11 second split, then finished at 8.07 seconds for seventh place in the championship race.
“The 60 hurdles is so fast and who ever gets out of the blocks first will sets up the race,” said Rodgers. “I’m happy because my tme was a personal best and I made All American.”
On top of the finals field, Brewton-Parker senior Brandon Schultz surged to win in one of the closest races of the meet with Schultz at 7.951, second place Coby Bailey of Indiana Tech at 7.956 and third place finisher Steven Anderson of Madonna at 7.97.