Sports notebook: Three tennis teams finish first in district

Photography by Alice Mary Herden

This week’s district tennis tournaments proved fruitful for Hernando County’s prep squads, as three of them collected championship trophies and moved on to regionals next week.
Crystal River played host to the Class 2A, District 7 Tournament for both boys and girls, with action extending into a third day after heavy rained washed away many of Tuesday’s scheduled matches.
By Thursday, the Nature Coast boys and Hernando girls had laid claim to district crowns. The Sharks cruised to the title, locking up first place before finals even began late Wednesday.
Nature Coast ended up with 15 points, while Crystal River edged Weeki Wachee for second place and the final regional berth, 10-8.
“It felt good,” Nature Coast head coach Tom Brown said on Thursday. “I’ve had a lot of time to sit on it, but I think everybody is excited about winning the district and getting a home round in regionals.
“I tend to think our team is a little bit bigger (than in the past) because we kept as many players as we did. So court time was a challenge, but everyone has been accommodating. Everybody has worked really hard and it’s nice to have it pay off.”
Hunter Schwefringhaus was one of two individual champions for the Sharks, defeating Weeki Wachee’s Bailey Hypes in the No. 3 singles final on Thursday, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.
On Wednesday, Carter McNamara defeated Crystal River’s Spencer Parker at No. 5, 6-2, 5-1 (forfeit). Later that afternoon, Charles Buckner and Roger Sniffen won the No. 2 doubles finale against Crystal River’s Andrew Allen and Ryan Grant, 6-4, 5-7, 6-2.
When finals resumed Thursday, Nature Coast’s No. 1 player, Dakota Willey, fell to Jonathan Judy-Hansen of Zephyrhills, 6-0, 6-0. Buckner lost to Allen at No. 2, 6-7 (8-10), 6-2, 6-3, while Trent Stukes from the host Pirates knocked off Sniffen at No. 4, 6-3, 6-3.
“Everybody was happy,” Brown said. “We were a little disappointed that we fell short in a couple of spots, but as a team I thought we played incredible.”
In No. 1 doubles, Weeki Wachee made the final with Mark Mulleavey and Hypes losing to Zephyrhills’ Judy-Hansen and Wesley Purvis on Wednesday, 6-2, 6-0.
On the girls side, Hernando posted 15 points. Crystal River totaled 11 for runner-up status, as Nature Coast came in third (eight).
Vanessa Valencia of Central pulled off a huge upset and earned a trip to states in Thursday’s No. 1 final, knocking off Hernando’s unbeaten senior Grace Curren, 3-6, 7-5, 6-4. Curren rebounded to team with Maddie Pickersgill for the No. 1 doubles crown, also assuring a spot at states. They beat Natalie Dodd and Chase Davis from Citrus, 6-4, 7-5.
Pickersgill additionally was champion at No. 2 singles, downing Crystal River’s Olivia Parker in the final, 6-4, 7-5. Caitlynn Nixon won at No. 4 over the Lady Pirates’ Shannon Hancock, 6-1, 6-1, and Karli Kimbrough did the same at No. 5 versus Nature Coast’s Sierra Remondelli, 6-3, 6-3.
Remondelli and Nicole Remedio reached the final at No. 2 doubles, but were denied by Crystal River’s Parker and Anna Lane, 6-0, 6-1.
Springstead’s boys and girls were at Jonesville Tennis Center in Gainesville for the 3A-5 tournaments on Tuesday and Wednesday. The boys team left as district champs, squeaking by Ocala-Vanguard, 12-11.
Lucas Frankel at No. 3 and Dylan Palmer at No. 4 both came away with individual titles. Alex Hoover (No. 1) and Sammy DeAngelis (No. 2) each made their respective singles finals, and combined to do the same at No. 1 doubles.
“This is my first year coaching tennis and it was phenomenal,” Springstead head coach Tim Etzel said. “The kids were just great. It was a lot of fun. I wasn’t expecting it.
“We’re the furthest south in our district and we were only able to play four district matches this year. We didn’t know what other teams had. We didn’t know what to expect. When we won, we were shocked and overjoyed.”
Sarah Vo won a district title at No. 5 for the Lady Eagles. Springstead’s boys will host Land O’ Lakes in a regional semifinal on Tuesday at Delta Woods Park. Nature Coast’s boys host Fivay on the same day, while Hernando’s girls play Hudson at the Brooksville City Courts. All matches begin at 3 p.m.
Hernando finished as the runner-up in the 1A-Region VI boys weightlifting meet Thursday at River Ridge. The Leopards scored 26 points, just short of Citrus with 27 but ahead of Central and Zephyrhills at 24 apiece.
“I’m real proud of the guys,” Hernando head coach Bill Vonada said. “Several guys PR’d (person record) today in either one or both (bench or clean-and-jerk) and moved up from last week.
“It’s great for them to finish on a high note like that. It’s somewhat of an individual sport, obviously. But it’s a group of guys working to push each other, and they saw an opportunity to maybe bring a trophy home and did whatever they could to try and do it.”
Only the champions from each weight class automatically qualified for states. The rest will have to wait to hear about at-large berths. Vonada believes Abel Terkovich has the best chance of moving on off the strength of his second-place showing at 199 pounds, benching 305 and cleaning 260 for a 565 total.
Shawn Bystrom added a second at 219 for the Leopards, with a 305-225—530. Central’s Ben Cooper was the county’s lone first-place finisher at the meet, the senior winning at 119 behind a 190-125—315. Travon Lincoln came in second for the Bears at heavyweight (345-255—600).
Springstead competed in the 2A-III Meet also at River Ridge on Wednesday, finishing eighth (10 points). Charles Monzo came in second at 129 (205-160—365), as did Nick D’Amico at 169 (295-245—540).
In baseball, Nature Coast (14-3) clinched the top seed in 5A-7 (9-1 district record) with Friday’s 18-1 win at second-place Hernando. The Leopards (10-9 overall, 7-3 5A-7) had defeated Weeki Wachee a night earlier, 7-2.
Springstead (16-4) notched a pair of 3-0 wins over Pasco on Monday and Fivay on Wednesday. Central (11-9) beat Hudson on Wednesday, 8-1, and Gulf on Friday, 18-5, but lost to Zephyrhills on Thursday, 11-1.
Meanwhile in softball, Springstead (21-1) maintained its roll with a 3-1 victory over Lecanto on Thursday and a 5-2 triumph over Dunnellon Friday, moving to 10-0 in 6A-6 play.
Nature Coast (20-3 overall, 12-0 5A-7) rallied from back-to-back loss to the Lady Eagles by going 3-0 this week. The Lady Sharks topped Central on Tuesday, 15-0, Gulf on Thursday, 7-2, and Weeki Wachee on Friday, 12-0. Hernando (12-9 overall, 7-5 5A-7) posted a 6-1 win over Fivay Thursday and suffered a 4-2 loss to Gulf on Friday.
On Tuesday, Nature Coast’s boys and girls swept the Doug Patton Memorial Track and Field Meet hosted by Citrus. The boys scored 115 points, well ahead of Lecanto in second (85). The Lady Sharks also bested Lecanto, 131-100.
Ashley Gentz took top honors in the 400 meter (1:00.92) and Kaitlyn Pierce won the 100-meter dash (12.94). Annaliese Besaw, Aliyah Dipalma, Leah Marville and Eboni Johnson won the 4x800 (10:35.66). Gentz, Pierce, Velma Brinson and Johnson outraced the field in the 4x400 (4:22.88).
For the boys, Austin Mulyck captured the 1,600 (4:46.03) and 3,200 (10:23.65). Willie Coffey had the best shot put toss (51-11). Brian Haygood, Dajour Morgan, DeShawn Smith and Dontay Washington teamed for a first-place clocking of 44.80 in the 4x100.
Weeki Wachee’s Marcus Jones took first in the 110 hurdles (16.51) and Adam Macchionne duplicated that placing in the 800 (2:13.48). Sebastian Class, Donte Hauer, Shawn O’Gorman and Dominic Oliver came in first in the 4x400 (3:42.09).
Hernando’s Ashley Morris had the fastest time in the girls 3,200 (12:54.59) and Central’s girls won the 4x100 (54.06). Also for the Lady Bears, Arreon Walter pulled out first in the discus (108-2). Kyle Manuel of Springstead won the boys discus (147-4) and Jacy Scharlow took the girls high jump (5-4).
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.

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