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    LaFleur's Gymnastics a state champ, again

    By NANCY MORGAN

    © St. Petersburg Times, published December 2, 2000


    Two state championshipsin a row is unusual.

    LaFleur's Gymnastics of Largo captured its second consecutive Level 5 title and placed 12 girls in the top 10 all-around, including three champions.

    "The girls have had a good season, so we weren't too surprised with the win," Mike LaFleur said.

    LaFleur and his wife, Melody, coach the gymnasts.

    "When you go to a state championship, though, you never know who you may come up against and how things will fall," Mike LaFleur said.

    For all-around titlists Alyssa Collins, Nicole Abdo and Jordyn Wright, routines fell into place.

    "I was really surprised to win, and it was my first time to win at state," said Collins, 10, of Seminole.

    "Last year, I didn't score any 9s on my events. This year, I had 9 and higher on all four and even a 9.7 on the vault."

    Collins, a fifth-grader at Northside Christian, overcame last season's fear of competing, she said, and looks to her father as her good luck charm.

    "Both Alyssa and Nicole have improved so much from last year," LaFleur said. "And for Jordyn to win in her first year in Level 5 is quite an accomplishment."

    Abdo, 9, had been unbeaten on the uneven bars and in all-around competition this season.

    Training at LaFleur's since she was 3, the St. Paul's fourth-grader captured a crown in the balance beam event..

    "I worked extra hard, and it helped," Abdo said. "I thought I had a good chance of winning, although last year I was third."

    Wright said she didn't expect to win the state title her first year.

    "I was surprised, but very happy, too," said Wright, a fourth-grader at Highland Lakes Elementary in Palm Harbor.

    "I had tried other sports, but I just like gymnastics best, especially beam."

    Joining in the top-10 all-around arena for LaFleur's were Wekiva Thomas, Danielle Kazakos and Jamie Applefield, with third-place performances; Heather Dawsey, Marissa Tomilonus and Kaitlin Doulou, fourth; Lisa Leone and Brittany Vargo, fifth; and Stacy Gollinger, eighth.

    Other individual winners were Dawsey on beam, and Tomilonus and Amy Boyd on vault.

    The Gemini School of Gymnastics in Oldsmar, which finished 10th, landed Chelsea Blattne in sixth-place all-around in Level 5, Sara Scholz fifth and Brittney Eigo sixth all-around and first in vault.

    Helping Gemini's Level 6 team take fifthwere Joelle Ferguson, fifth all-around; Adriana Liebling, sixth; and Casey Dolson, seventh; along with Kasie Bache's win on the beam.

    Bayside Gymnastics in Clearwater looked to Hillary Murphy, Caitlin Wright, Melissa Tomlin, Kirby Kreider and Kelly Richard to lead Level 6 to a ninth-place finish.

    The Tampa Bay Turners of St. Petersburg captured sixth in Level 5 through the efforts of Jocilyn George, Barbara Simkanich, Dayna Adams and Jannelle DeVaul.

    Kirsten Chmielewski and Lauren Gibson were champions in Level 6.

    The Level 4 State Championships are this weekend in Daytona Beach.

    FOOTBALL: The Suncoast Youth Football Conference concluded its season last month at Dixie High School.

    Winning were the Clearwater flyweights, Countryside mighty mite and midget teams and Dunedin pee wee.

    A 21-6 flyweight victory over Countryside gave Clearwater its second consecutive unbeaten season and second straight championship.

    Second-year quarterback Luke Loucks -- assisted by standout offensive line performances from Shaun ALdrich, George Allen, Raymond Hermann and Beecher Jacobsen -- passed to Rashard Young and Darrius Anderson for touchdowns.

    Countryside mighty mite coach Jerry Mahorney expected the final with Clearwater to be a tight one, as was its 6-0 win in their regular-season meeting. True to Mahorney's prediction, there was a scoreless first half. Countryside reached the end zone after a 35-yard pass from Lucas Darr to Anthony Jackson. Tailback Chaz Powell scored from 13 yards out.. Lucas Darr's younger brother, Matt, kicked the extra point to give Countryside an 8-0 lead.

    Dennis Gillen said it would be difficult to beat Seminole three times in a season, but the Dunedin pee wee squad won 8-6.

    The Countryside midget team scored touchdowns on a 20-yard quick dive by Danny Segal and an outside sweep by Isaiah Gywn. Brian MacGarrigle's extra points gave Countryside a 14-12 lead.

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