Sports notebook: Lady Sharks repeat as state runners-up

Photography by Cheryl Clanton

On Friday, the Nature Coast girls weightlifting team traveled to Belleview for the Class 1A FHSAA Finals, and they didn’t return home empty-handed.
For the second year in a row, the Lady Sharks were the state runners-up, scoring 17 points to edge Lake Weir, the team that had defeated Nature Coast at regionals two weeks earlier, by one point. River Ridge was again state champion, scoring 29.
“I was pleased. I felt like the girls worked hard and I was happy to get out of there with no major injuries to keep kids from playing other sports,” Nature Coast coach Rudy Story said. “Back-to-back, that’s awesome. Not too many people can say that. It’s a great bunch of girls. They work hard, do everything you need to do. They’re pretty independent, which helps.
“We graduate four seniors, five seniors. We have a lot of young kids, too, coming that they were able to help bring along. That’ll give us a little momentum going into next year, as well.”
Samantha Traudt, a senior, earned a repeat of her own by taking the state championship at 139 pounds. She had a bench press of 170 pounds and hoisted 180 in the clean-and-jerk for a 350 total, winning by 25 pounds over second-place Sofia Caro of Fort Lauderdale-Pine Crest.
She’s the first county lifter to ever capture back-to-back state crowns, after she and teammate Alicia Gentz were the county’s first state title winners a year ago.
“I was happy for her because she had that injury, she had a car accident (over the summer) that she was in. So, she wasn’t able to be working out like she planned to. She kind of had a slow start,” said Story in reference to two bulging discs Traudt suffered in that accident. “For her to finish the way that she did and knowing everything that she went through, that was very satisfying.”
The Lady Sharks were agonizingly close to having another state champion, as sophomore Jouie Miller posted a 210 in both the bench and clean for a 420 total that was matched by Fort White’s Kacey Carter (215-205—420). However, White weighed in less and thus took the top spot via tiebreaker.
“I was a little upset that Jouie tied for first. I thought that she was in the lead. I didn’t really pay attention to the scorecard like I should have,” Story said. “After she got her last bench, I thought she was in good shape. So, I didn’t really look after her. I didn’t know that girl got 215 after her. I would have told her to try 215 on the clean-and-jerk the second lift instead of the last lift, because I think she would have had a little more energy to get it.”
Two other Lady Sharks collected state medals, Kaitlyn Pierce with a fourth-place showing at 139 (145-170—315) and Jessica Osborne with a fifth-place 120-135—255 at 110. Victoria Davila took eighth at 119 (135-125—260) and sophomore Courtney Traudt finished 14th at 183 (145-140—285).
For Weeki Wachee, senior Brooke Spaulding fell one place short of a medal with a seventh-place 155-155—310 at 154. Teammate Alexis Hobbs, a sophomore, came in ninth at 129 (135-155—290). Another sophomore, Morgen Arey, was 16th at 154 (140-130—270) to round out the Lady Hornets’ contingent.
Two Hernando juniors, Janea Mobley and Imani Powell, also competed, with Mobley placing 12th at 183 (140-150—290) and Powell finishing 15th at 169 (140-145—285).
Two county girls basketball teams were runners-up in the district tournaments that took place this week, including Weeki Wachee earning its first regional appearance.
The Lady Hornets (20-8) hosted the 6A-District 7 Tournament, and trounced Lecanto in Tuesday’s quarterfinals, 46-12, as Seytia Hill had 18 points and 11 rebounds, while Shayleese Vazquez added 16 points and five boards. Taylor Miller totaled 10 points, seven rebounds and two steals.
Weeki Wachee's Shayleese Vazquez shoots over Lecanto's Taylor Lampasona, Victoria Mitchell and Arraiol Stevens in Tuesday's 6A-7 quarterfinals. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

They edged county-rival Hernando in Wednesday’s semifinals, 38-37, on a buzzer-beating shot by Halie Bondulich, and nearly knocked off top seed Crystal River in Friday’s final before falling, 48-43. Hill was spectacular in that one, with 21 points and 21 rebounds.
Also in the 6A-7 Tournament, the Lady Leopards (17-7) won 48-36 over Central (12-11) on Tuesday. Nakayla Roberts scored 14 points to lead the way, while Taylyn Murwin had 11 points, seven rebounds and seven steals. Also, Ali Bronson pulled down 13 rebounds and Taylor Neblock had 10 for the Lady Leopards.
Hernando's Ali Bronson takes the ball down the court against the defense of Central's Maddie Lewis. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Central's Maddie Lewis takes a shot over the defense of Hernando's Taylor Neblock. Photo by Cheryl Clanton

Nature Coast (9-17) downed Citrus, 46-36, and nearly pulled a stunning upset of Crystal River on Wednesday, losing 64-60 in overtime. Sophomore Kayla Langley scored 25 points to go with 17 rebounds, seven steals and six blocks against the Lady Pirates. She had 17 points, 10 rebounds and four steals versus the Lady Hurricanes.
Springstead was seeded fourth heading into the 7A-8 Tournament at Land O’ Lakes, but stunned top-seeded Mitchell in Tuesday’s semifinals, 49-43, behind 26 points by Reagan Huden. Sarah Vo added 16 points and six steals, Yhanni Betts grabbed 17 rebounds and Tierra Houston chipped in 11 boards.
Sunlake pulled out Thursday night’s final over the Lady Eagles, 62-54. Morgan Nelski scored 18 points, while Huden had 14. This is the second straight year in regionals for Springstead (11-9), which hadn’t advanced beyond districts in all its previous history.
The Lady Eagles will travel to Tampa-King while the Lady Hornets go to Anclote for Thursday’s regional quarterfinals.
On the boys side, Nature Coast wrapped up a perfect regular season with a 62-47 win over Springstead on Tuesday night. The Sharks now sit at 24-0 heading into the 6A-7 Tournament at Citrus next week.
The Eagles (14-9) bounced back to beat Anclote in overtime on Thursday, 76-70, and Hernando on Friday, 61-58. Jeffery Cotnoir had 23 points, 11 rebounds and six assists against Anclote, and 17 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists versus the Leopards. Robert Gomez scored 18 points in the Hernando game.
Central (16-9) finished up the regular-season slate with three wins, 79-48 over Gulf on Monday, 72-67 against Fivay on Wednesday and 55-43 versus River Ridge on Thursday. Caleb Johnson scored 20 points against the Buccaneers and 28 against the Falcons. Andrew Krienes had 22 versus Gulf.
Hernando’s wrestling team finished second at the Wesley Chapel Duals tournament on Saturday.
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.

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