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North Suncoast: Midseason report

By DAVID MURPHY and IZZY GOULD, Times staff writers
Published September 30, 2007


We're sharing some midseason notes, hoping to provide a glimpse at the athletes and teams making things happen on the North Suncoast. With the postseason just weeks away, here's your chance to brush up on what's happening.

Volleyball

Super six teams

1. Land O'Lakes: The Gators opened the season with a win over River Ridge and have been rolling ever since. With seniors such as Kayli Keough, Danielle Priest and Jessica Bryant, Land O'Lakes can hit with anybody. A rematch with River Ridge looms Thursday.

2. River Ridge: The Royal Knights haven't lost since that defeat at the hands of Land O'Lakes. The return of Alex Laton from a knee injury has helped immensely.

3. Hudson: Yeah, we know the Cobras have losses to Nature Coast, River Ridge and Zephyrhills. But coach Linda McQuade is convinced her team has turned the corner, and they proved her right in a huge win over Mitchell last week.

T-4. Zephyrhills: The Bulldogs picked up their first loss of the season against Mitchell. But it went five games, and coach Tiffany Bibby has her team believing it belongs with the area's traditional powerhouses.

T-4. Nature Coast: The Sharks are young, talented and getting more consistent each day. The highlight of the first half was a win over longtime nemesis Hudson. The lowlight? A five-game loss to River Ridge. In both, they proved they can play with the area's best.

T-4. Mitchell: Mustangs senior Lea Weber is one of our favorite players in the area, and she has plenty of support from teammates such as Veronica Harring and the appropriately-named Sarah Bash.

Super six players

Lea Weber, Sr., Mitchell: She's perhaps the hardest hitter on her team, and perhaps its best setter.

Lara Metz, Sr., Hudson: You should be required to have a background check and a 30-day waiting period before you handle one of her spikes.

Alex Livengood, So., Nature Coast: She still has a lot of room to improve, but in terms of raw athleticism and potential, it doesn't get any better.

Brooke Castelamare, Sr., River Ridge: She leads Knights in kills and aces. And she knows where her coach (mom, Heidi) lives.

Kayli Keough, Sr., Land O'Lakes: She leads Gators in kills and is an intimidating presence in the middle.

Jessica Bryant, Sr., Land O'Lakes: Strong, steady, athletic - she is just as important to the Gators' success as Keough.

Golf   |   Boys

What's happening: If Mitchell beats Land O'Lakes on Tuesday, it will lock up the Sunshine Athletic Conference title. If the Gators pull the upset, chaos ensues. In Hernando, Central should once again reign supreme at the conference tourney, though Nature Coast's squad has improved. Ridgewood and River Ridge are hoping to get out of a tough district once the postseason begins. Wesley Chapel has strength at the top of its lineup, with senior Mike Wozniak leading the way, but is young on its back end.

Who's making it happen: The SAC match should be interesting. Zephyrhills' Rick Briggs, Land O'Lakes' Wes Parrish, Ridgewood's Jordan Padova, River Ridge's Kiel Jackson and Mitchell's Kenny Cavender all have legitimate chances to take the title. In the HCAC, Central's Tommy Bastien and Cody Grey could battle for the title. Also, Springstead's David Roebuck should be among the contenders.

Golf   |   Girls

What's happening: Wesley Chapel has two of the best golfers in the county at the top of its lineup in T.J. Adipietro and Samantha Friese. Not surprisingly, the Wildcats are 7-0. Their only competition? Mitchell, which enters the week 8-1.

Who's making it happen: Again, it's a field dominated by Mitchell and Wesley Chapel. Friese, Adipietro, Mitchell's Megan Van Etten, Gulf's Bailey Logan, Land O'Lakes' Allison Howard, and Zephyrhills' Lauren McLeod are some of the top contenders.

Cross country

Key races remaining

Oct. 5-6: Flrunners.com (Chain O' Lakes Park, Titusville)

Oct. 19: SAC championship (Starkey Park)

Oct. 23: Hernando County Conference (Central)

Nov. 1: District

Nov. 10: Region

Nov. 17: State (Little Everglades Ranch)

Boys

What's happening: Land O'Lakes has gotten off to a solid start and remains the team to beat. Central has stepped ahead of Hernando for the first time in recent memory. Ridgewood and Mitchell have fielded strong teams.

Who's making it happen: Land O'Lakes' Felix Soto has been the class of the North Suncoast. The Gators have plenty of talent, from Matt Schwartz to Jake Proudfoot. Central's surprise standout has been Mason McKenzie, and Ridgewood has a nice one-two punch from Steven Landreth and Dean Stupar. And Mitchell gets plenty out of Sebastian Ruiz and Angelo Breuning. Hernando has some solid runners, including Tyler Maier and Joe Wright.

Girls

What's happening: Gulf should be the favorite for the SAC title, but don't count out Wesley Chapel or the surprising Wiregrass Ranch. Land O'Lakes also is in the thick of things. Springstead and Nature Coast are among the top teams in Hernando County.

Who's making it happen: The Bucs are stacked with Jaci Pustelnik, Brittinie Bennett and Courtney McAuliffe. Perhaps the biggest surprise is the emergence of Bulls sophomore Ariel Grey. And Pasco junior Leeann Eble appears to have bounced back strong from a heart condition that hampered her most of last year. Shelby DeLoach and Jessica Furst have been solid for Wesley Chapel.

Swimming

Key meets remaining

Oct. 7: Hernando County Conference meet

Oct. 12-13: Sunshine Athletic Conference meet

Oct. 19: District

Oct. 25: Region

Nov. 1-3: State

Boys

What's happening: Land O'Lakes has maintained its edge in the pool after taking out Mitchell head-to-head. After seasons of heartache, Hernando looks solid after a pair of recent wins against Springstead and Nature Coast. If any team has Hernando's number, perhaps it's Central.

Who's making it happen: Can anyone stop Sunlake's Brad Morrison? He's been tops in the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle. Then there's Mitchell's Renzo Alvarez, who has been juggling work, school and swimming.

Girls

What's happening: Wiregrass Ranch has come out of nowhere. But Land O'Lakes looks to be the team to beat and is right there, along with Mitchell. But not if you're in Hernando County. That honor goes to Central.

Who's making it happen: Land O'Lakes has speedster Stephanie Allen. Mitchell has Caitli McCaffrey. Bulls freshman Kailyn Sylverster has been solid. And the Bears have Elizabeth McGeehan, Mary Alice McGeehan, Janel Kollin, Emily Withington and Shelby Brown.