Nature Coast’s girl weightlifting team continued its march toward the state meet on Saturday, at the Class 1A, Region 5 Meet hosted by Belleview.
The Lady Sharks, hoping to compete for a state crown after finishing as the runners-up a year ago, took second in this meet to Ocala-Lake Weir, 38-42.
“We’re very satisfied with the second-place team finish behind Lake Weir,” Nature Coast coach Nikki Pierce said. “We knew it’d be close going into the meet. Unfortunately, we had a couple girls who just had off days. If they lifted what they normally did in the season, I think the score would have reflected differently. But it is what it is. We’ll take what we have and look forward to states.”
Three Lady Shark lifters guaranteed a spot at states by finishing first in their respective weight classes. Kaitlyn Pierce put up 145 pounds in the bench press and 160 in the clean-and-jerk for a 305 total at 129 pounds.
Defending state champion Samantha Traudt totaled 310 with a 150 bench and 160 clean to take the 139 crown. At unlimited, Jouie Miller’s 200-200—400 snagged the top spot.
“All three of them I’m extremely happy with,” Coach Pierce said. “They put in hard work and all of three of them earned it.”
Also for Nature Coast, Jessica Osborne came in second at 110 with a 115-140—255. Victoria Davila was likewise second at 199 behind a 125-120—245.
Weeki Wachee was led by Alexis Hobbs, with a 130-155—285 that was second to Pierce at 129. Sarai O’Connell took third at 110 (100-115—215) and Brooke Spaulding came in fourth at 154 (150-150—300).
Hernando’s Imani Powell 140-145—285 at 169 took third and Janea Mobley was fourth at 183 (135-150—285). Kaitlyn Batten added a fourth at 119 (100-125—225).
All lifters outside of first-place finishers must wait to hear on at-large state berths once all regional meets have been completed. Belleview will play host to the 1A FHSAA Finals on Feb. 3.
On Friday, The Associated Press released its All-State football selections for 5A, featuring four Hernando County players, two apiece from Nature Coast and Central.
It was little surprise that Central senior De’Vonta Smith, an honorable mention All-State pick the previous year, made the first team offense after leading the state in rushing with 2,913 yards and tying for second with 37 touchdowns.
Smith’s top blocker, 6-foot-7, 345-pound junior Lyndell Hudson, was a choice on the third team offense.
“Obviously, it’s a great accomplishment for those guys to be on the All-State team,” Central head coach Chris Sands said. “We figured De’Vonta would get selected, but having a junior in Lyndell be on there is awesome.”
Running back T.J. Owens and linebacker Matthew Robinson, both seniors, represent the Sharks. Owens was a third team selection after transferring in from Springstead this season. He rushed for 1,555 yards and 21 touchdowns despite missing two games and being limited at midseason due to injury.
Robinson, a second team pick, recorded 154 tackles including 10 for a loss, and added seven sacks and seven fumble recoveries. It was the third straight season he surpassed 100 tackles, giving him 409 for his career.
“Obviously, I’m real proud of them. Those two and really the whole senior group set the tone the last three years,” said former Nature Coast head coach Justin Worden, who left for Titusville-Astronaut last month. “It’s a credit to the staff and a credit to the kids. It showed everybody bought in.”
After starting the season 18-0, the Hernando Christian Academy girls basketball team suffered its first loss, falling at 2A-District 4 foe Seven Rivers Christian on Tuesday, 36-18. However, the game did not count toward the district standings, as it was the second meeting between the schools.
The Lady Lions (20-1) bounced back to beat Tampa Bay Christian on Thursday, 48-12, led by Cayla Phillips with 17 points. She was also the leading scorer in Friday night’s 49-4 thumping of Tampa-Citrus Park Christian, totaling 13 points and tying a single-season school mark of 28 made 3-pointers. The 20th win is also a new team record.
Nature Coast’s boys, conversely, did stay perfect, improving to 20-0 with a 71-26 victory over Lecanto on Tuesday and a 70-57 triumph over Central on Friday. The Sharks are now 11-0 in 6A-7, having already locked up the top seed.
The Bears (12-8 overall, 8-3 6A-7) are still assured of the second seed in the upcoming district tournament, thanks to an 86-55 win against Hernando on Tuesday.
Hernando’s girls topped Central on Tuesday, 48-36, and Fivay on Thursday, 59-28, and now sit at 14-6 overall, 7-5 in 6A-7. Ali Bronson had 22 points, 10 rebounds and two steals versus the Lady Bears. She followed with 18 points, six rebounds and 10 steals against the Lady Falcons.
Weeki Wachee (17-7 overall, 8-4 6A-7) lost to Citrus Tuesday, 42-34, then beat Hudson Wednesday, 44-7, and Lecanto on Friday, 42-28.
Springstead (10-5 overall, 2-4 7A-8) knocked off Land O’ Lakes on Tuesday, 56-24, followed by a loss to Mitchell on Wednesday, 60-39. Reagan Huden scored 26 points and had six steals in the first game. Yhanni Batts had 14 points and 14 rebounds in the second tilt, while Tierra Houston pulled down 17 boards.
In boys soccer, Nature Coast finished out its regular season with a 4-2 loss at Fivay on Tuesday and a 6-3 win versus Lecanto on Thursday. Bailey Smith and Vinny Stulec scored goals against the Falcons; Hunter Reid, Stulec and Gilbert Delgado all scored twice for the Sharks (12-5-4) against the Panthers.
Weeki Wachee (10-4-5) collected a win over Central on Tuesday, 8-0, then lost to River Ridge on Wednesday, 2-1. Bailey Hypes scored three goals against the Bears and Kyle Pogue added two.
Follow Chris Bernhardt Jr. on Twitter @cpbernhardtjr.