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Gymnasts begin season with eye on state


© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 23, 2001

The compulsory gymnastics season for girls started this month.

Gymnasts up to Level 6 competed in meets in Orlando and Tampa to begin honing their skills for state championships.

"The majority of Florida's gymnasts are in the compulsory division," said Mary Linnemeyer, coach and part owner of the Tampa Bay Turners.

"There are about 700 USAG compulsory gymnasts in Florida. They've been practicing through the summer to improve their self-assurance and their skill level in preparation for the state meets."

In the Orlando Invitational earlier this month, the Turners won the Level 6 competition and placed second in Level 5 and 4.

Ashley Sullivan and Barbara Simkanich were first all-around in Level 6. They were joined by all-around winners Kirsten Jamieson (Level 5) and Alexia Perry (Level 4).

Event winners in Level 6 included Sullivan (vault, floor exercise and balance beam), Simkanich (uneven bars) and Lindsay Apperson (floor).

Recording victories in Level 5 were Lindsay Brown (beam), Annie Berdusco (beam and floor), Jamieson (beam) and Jennifer Stosh (floor). The winners in Level 4 were Perry (beam and floor), Nicole Baisden (floor), Kaitlin Kuzdak (beam and floor) and Morgan Chmielewski (beam). "The girls just did great, and I couldn't have hoped for them to do any better," said Amy Schulthess, one of the Turners' optional coaches. "It really builds their confidence to come out so strong in the first meet."

The program's other coaches are Angie Bowman, Doug Neiman and Chuck Krause. They emphasize, especially to their new gymnasts, to have fun, develop a strong work ethic and get used to competition, said Schulthess.

"The numbers are split between newcomers to the sport and those in their second year of Level 4," she said. "I have a pretty good understanding of where they're coming from since I was a gymnast 10 years, starting at the age of five."

In the Aloha Invitational in Tampa, LaFleur's Gymnastic of Largo won the Level 4 title on the performances of Jessica Bunn (first all-around), Kristen Pandy (second), Cayla Collins (third) and Christie Middleton (fifth).

LaFleur's won Level 5 and received all-around honors from Sarena Bumbarger and Kailey Comparetto. Top Level 5 performers were Stacy Gollinger (second), Kelly Blake (second), Megan VonStetina (second), Kaley LaFleur (third), Mariah Oakley (fourth) and Amy Boyd (sixth).

Medalist All-Star Gymnastics entered the Sunshine Invitational in Orlando, placing Shelby Anderson first in Level 2 all-around, Lynn Burton in Level 3 and Shealyn Fuller in Level 6.

Next up for the gymnasts is the annual Gemini Invite, Oct. 6-7 at the Long Center. State championships for Level 5 and 6 are scheduled in November. The Level 4 finals are in December.

DIVING: The Suncoast Diving Club played host to the Summer's End Invitational for novice and intermediate divers.

Earning firsts for Suncoast were sisters Kelsey and Meggie Dougherty-Howard, Sabrina Dow, Danielle Jones, Lily Palmer, Michelle Stevens, Jacklyn James, David Peckham and brother-sister members Chris and Mary Toups.

The Clearwater Aquatic Team's Colleen Sears was first in the 7-and-under novice division, and Drew Halpin won 5-and-under novice. The squad's other top-four place-winners were Kristin Hendry, Lyndsie and Alyssa Cory and Sarah Haggitt.

SWIMMING: The fifth annual Sweet September Meet, hosted by the Dunedin Aquatics Club at Highlander Pool, included swimmers from 13 clubs.

The Clearwater Aquatics Team finished first. High-point winners were Julie Marchenia (6-and-under), Chelsea Nauta (11-12), Kevin Smith (6-and-under), Daniel Barry (10-and-under), Tommy Wyher (11-12) and Joel Harris (13-14).

Dunedin was second overall behind strong performances from Aubrey Haas (6-and-under) and Kelsey Buckley (8-and-under). Carlouel Yacht Club was seventh, and West Florida Lightning Aquatics was 12th.

This weekend, St. Petersburg Aquatics is playing host to more than 750 swimmers in a USS meet.

SOCCER: The Strictly Soccer under-10 boys and under-12 girls teams won titles in the Northeast Raiders Kickoff Classic. ... The Largo United Wolves captured the under-14 boys division crown in the Pinellas Park Labor Day Classic and in the Northeast Raiders Kickoff Classic. ... The Palm Harbor Nighthawks allowed one goal in winning the under-12 girls championship of the Tampa Bay Labor Day Classic. ... The St. Pete Surf under-15 boys traveled to Brazil to play and had an opportunity to meet the Brazilian National Team. ... The Clearwater Chargers under-14 girls and Countryside Lightning under-10 and Oldsmar under-13 boys squads were among the champions in the West Pasco Labor Day Thunder Tournament.

SPORTS AMBASSADOR: James O'Berry, 13, participated in the People to People Sports Ambassador program this summer in Australia.

O'Berry, who trains with the St. Pete Striders Track Club, won a gold medal in the 1,000-meter race and a silver in the 600 meters.

The Bay Pointe Middle School eighth-grader was fifth in a 5K event for runners up to 19 years of age.

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