Top 10 Islander sports stories
|Blaine Jenefsky shows good form on this kick during the punt, pass and kick contest in July.
|Cory Wash singles up the middle to help the Islanders end a 23-game losing streak and topping the list of sports stories for 2007.
|Martine Miller cuts back, looking to shoot during a Manatee Magic soccer game. Miller, fellow Islanders Erin Mulrine and Tina Papazian and their Magic teammates captured the Region C Cup in March.
|Max Moneuse breaks up a pass during flag football action. Flag football was so popular that the Center hosted winter and summer league play.
|Once again, the BeachHouse/West Coast Surf Shop back-to-school skimboard contest in August was a big hit.
It is hard to believe that another year has passed, much less another year of Island sports. This means the time is here to reflect on the past year’s sports stories in order to put together another top-10 list of sporting events.
It is never easy to say one victory is better than another, so, for me, it really comes down to either how impressive a performance was or what kind of entertainment value it possessed.
At any rate, there will be events not mentioned and you might question the events that I’ve included. This year’s top-10 list is a little heavy on the high school side, but most of these high school athletes came up through the Anna Maria Island Community Center’s youth leagues, which is a positive reflection on those programs.
You may also question my choice of the Junior League Islanders baseball team ending a 23-game losing streak as my No. 1 sports story. But it is easily justified by the fact that the majority of those kids didn’t quit, despite that being the easy option. They kept showing up to compete and, when they finally won, the excitement from them and their fans was tremendous.
They deserve to be our top story and top team for their hard work and sticking to the game.
I want to offer a big thanks to Bill Bartlett, who keeps everyone up to date on horseshoe news, Bob Kral does the same for the Key Royale Club and golf news, and a big thanks goes to Andy Jonatzke and the athletic department crew at the Center for all of the help they provide to keep me informed of the happenings there.
I want to wish everyone who reads my reports a belated Merry Christmas and a safe and happy new year.
Here are my top sports stories for 2007.
1. Islanders win! Islanders win!
Finally there is joy in Mudville. The Islander’s Junior League baseball losing streak is over and hopefully a new streak - preferably a winning one - has been started with the team’s 16-9 victory over USA Fence on April 7 at Birdie Tebbetts Field in Holmes Beach.
The Islanders lost all 18 games they played during the 2006 season and had lost their first five games this season before their sweet taste of victory. It was not lacking in drama, as the Islanders overcame an early deficit before having to hold on at the end for their first victory.
Ben Valdivieso went 3-for-4 with three RBIs and three runs scored to lead the Islander offense, which also received three hits and two runs apiece from Ryan Guerin and Matt Shafer. Blake Wilson and Kyle Crum each added two hits and one run, while Troy Kosewski and Cory Wash each doubled and scored twice. Matt Bauer, who singled and scored once, pitched two and two-thirds hitless innings and struck out four USA Fence batters, while Zach Evan added a single in the Islanders victory.
The team’s sponsor? The Islander newspaper.
2. Skimmers ride high in contest
Parents, friends, skimboard enthusiasts, beachgoers and some “just curious” folks were among the hundreds that once again descended upon the BeachHouse Restaurant Aug. 26 for the sixth-annual End-of-Summer Skimboard Contest. All in attendance were entertained - to say the least.
Despite mere ankle-high waves, the 100 or so contest participants put on a great show with a variety of tricks - like 360 shove-its, back-side 540s, a sex change, (don’t ask) and the always popular attempts for big air.
The Island was well represented, both in participation and achievement. The boy’s 9-11 division was captured by Island resident Blaine Jenefsky with Travis Belsito and Luke Shakelford finishing in third and fourth place respectively. Mickey Kendall took home second place.
Other local finishers included Elijah Anderson, who won the boy’s 12-14 division, and Jonah Caster, who finished in third place. Island resident Blake Tyre finished in third place in the men’s 18-21 division, while young Holmes Beach resident Brandon Mills finished in fourth place in the 8-and-under division despite it being his first competition.
3. Islander helps Manatee Hurricanes to nine-win season
Lifelong Island resident Nick Sato played a major role on the defensive side of the ball for the Manatee High School Hurricanes varsity football team.
Sato, a senior who played his second season as a member of the varsity Hurricanes, played outside linebacker in the Hurricanes defensive scheme. Sato’s best game of the season came in a 28-16 victory over crosstown rival Southeast on Sept. 14.
Sato got two quarterback sacks and recovered a fumble on the Southeast 10-yard line that led to a Cane’s touchdown. For his efforts, he earned the Brighthouse Networks Catch 47 Player of the Week award.
When asked what it was like playing for a legendary coach like Joe Kinnan, Sato said, “He expects a lot from his players and demands perfection.”
4. Island girls help U14 Magic to Region C title
Island residents Erin Mulrine, Ally Titsworth, Martine Miller and Christina Papazian helped their U14 Manatee Magic soccer team to the 2007 Region C title over the March 24-25 weekend in Tampa.
The Magic girls defeated Hillsborough United 1-0 on March 25 in an extremely physical game played in very windy conditions.
The Magic advanced to the championship game thanks to another 1-0 victory during a March 24 semifinal game against Lakeland.
5. Islanders help another Hurricanes team to a title
The Manatee High School Hurricanes girls varsity soccer team captured the Timberwolf Classic girls soccer tournament Nov. 9-10 at Lawton Chiles High School in Tallahassee. The Lady Canes, which boasts Islanders Amber Wright, Tina Papazian and Erin Mulrine, went undefeated in three games to earn the championship trophy.
In the Gainesville victory, senior defender, Amber Wright had to mark striker Emily Dowd, a player who had scored over 130 goals in her career and had already committed to the University of Tennessee. Wright, who always marks the opposition’s top offensive threat, held Dowd to one very questionable goal, which came late in the game.
Erin Mulrine, a freshman center midfielder didn’t score in Tallahassee, but has been a consistent performer for the Lady Canes, notching two goals in seven games for the 5-0-2 Hurricanes. Tina Papazian who started every game in goal last year is injured and hasn’t played.
6. Islander fuels improved MHS basketball
The Manatee High school boys basketball team matched the 2006 team’s win total of four and Island resident Spencer Carper was one of the reasons behind the success.
Spencer, a 5 foot, 8 inch junior, started at guard and served as one of the team captains. He averaged 10 points, four assists and one steal per game and led the team in three-point field goals. Hurricane baskeball coach Brian Reeves stated that Carper earned his spot as starter and captain because of his leadership, hard work and dedication, on and off the court.
7. Island runners help MHS to successful season
The Manatee High girls and boys cross country teams had a bit of Island flavor in Jarott Nelson, Chris Owens, Baili Heeman, Georgia Gibbons and Jessica Pate. They were members of the Manatee High cross country JV or varsity teams that took home third-place team finishes in the Class 3A, District 5 championships held Nov. 1 at G.T. Bray Park in Bradenton.
With another year of experience, next season should shape up well for the Hurricanes cross country teams and its Island contingents.
8. Center hosts NFL punt, pass and kick competition
The Anna Maria Island Community Center hosted the local NFL Pepsi, Punt, Pass and Kick competition at the Holmes Beach city field July 14. The competition was attended by approximately 20 youths in four age groups for boys and girls ages 8-15.
Participants were allowed one practice punt, pass or kick before launching their “official” entry. Punts, passes and kicks were awarded points based on distance and accuracy. The field, which had a tape measure stretched out straight down the middle, had volunteers ready to mark the ball where it landed. Officials then used a piece of string to measure the distance away from dead center and deducted that distance to come up with the official entry for each competitor.
9. Titans and Bucs win Island Superbowl
The Anna Maria Island Community Center’s inaugural NFL Flag Football season came to an end July 13 with the Superbowl game played in the youth and junior divisions at the Holmes Beach city field.
The junior division game was a tight one with the Titans edging the Chiefs 28-27 for the championship.
The Buccaneers captured the youth division in more convincing fashion, defeating the Panthers by a 26-18 score.
10. Island traveling team wins first game
The Center sent a team of Islanders to compete in the Manatee West Little League. This major league traveling team won its first game of the season on April 11 when they defeated Troxler & Smith 10-4 behind the pitching and hitting of Andrew Burgess.
Burgess pitched into the sixth inning and allowed only four hits and three walks while striking out six. He was relieved by William Brusso after surrendering a homerun to Davidson for Troxler & Smith. Brusso struck out the last batter of the game to earn the save for the Islanders.
Burgess also helped himself at the plate, going 2-for-2, including a triple and three runs scored. Chris Pate added a pair of singles and one run and Jack Titsworh singled and scored a run to lead the Islander offense. Hunter Parrish parlayed two walks into two runs scored for the Islanders, which also received runs from Max Moneuse and Brusso in the victory.