Sports year in review, July-December
Looking back at the second half of 2014 in sports and naming The Islander sports story/person of the year:
There was a big announcement in July regarding longtime islander Ken Bowers, who was to be enshrined into the North Carolina Wesleyan Athletics Hall of Fame during homecoming ceremonies in October.
Bowers, who lives in Holmes Beach with wife Bonnie and son Lane, was a four-year starter and two-year captain for the Battling Bishops from 1985-1988.
Bowers finished his career among the programs’ top-five all-time leading scorers and was the only player from the 53-team South Region to earn NCAA Division III All-American honors in 1988.
Bowers, who moved to Holmes Beach in 1974 and got his start playing soccer at the Anna Maria Youth Center, was surprised at the honor. “I didn’t realize I had that much of an impact on and off the pitch, though it’s great to be recognized by my teammates!”
Bowers went to say that he was hooked by the game back then. “We played soccer all day at the center, either on the tennis courts or the field. There were many great players back then. No fees. Just be back home on time for dinner.”
Though Bowers’ playing days are behind him, he still enjoys the game and tries to catch all of Lane’s Magic games when his schedule allows.
Other interesting news in July came in adult basketball. Island Gourmet continued a Cinderella run in the adult coed basketball playoffs at the Anna Maria Island Community Center July 8.
After having only a single win during the regular season, Island Gourmet was on a two-game winning streak after defeating second-seeded Bug Guys 64-53 in the semifinal game.
Cinderella lost her slipper a week later as Duncan Real Estate used a strong fourth quarter to break open a close game and defeat Island Gourmet 65-49 to win the championship game.
Exciting indoor soccer action continued at the center, especially the July 24 match between Dojo Martial Arts and Island Dental Spa. Island Dental Spa held a 4-0 lead and a 6-2 lead, but ended up on the wrong end of an 8-6 decision thanks to four goals in a 2-minute span in the second half from Carter Reemelin.
Another good story in July involved the PANDA Foundation, in partnership with the School Board of Manatee and the center, which held a free tennis academy. Instructors trained and provided encouragement to more than 50 kids.
August sports opened with flag football championship games at the center.
Anna Maria Island Seahawks put on a defensive clinic in defeating Sugar Beach Digital Cowboys 13-2 to win the 8-10 division Super Bowl. The Seahawks’ defense pitched a shutout as the only points scored by the Cowboys came when Will Batey sacked Seahawk quarterback Evan Christenson for a safety.
Byron Law ran for one touchdown while Shawn Balvin caught a touchdown pass thrown by Christenson. Jeremiah Sculco completed the Seahawk scoring with an extra-point reception.
Eat Here Lions compiled a 9-1 regular-season record and showed that was no fluke in defeating AMI Sportszone Seahawks 32-26 Aug. 5 to win the 11-17 division Super Bowl. Hagen Powers was a difference-maker in the game, running for two touchdowns and catching another while also adding four flag pulls and three quarterback sacks on defense.
Lane Burnett’s interception return for a touchdown completed the scoring for Eat Here Lions.
Another exciting sports story saw another season of indoor soccer come to an end with championship games for the 8-10 and 11-14 age divisions Aug. 15.
The 8-10 championship game saw Air & Energy roll to a 4-1 victory over top-seeded Gulf Bay Realty behind the strong play of Cole Pearson.
The 11-14 championship game was an exciting, back-and-forth affair that had the spectators on the edge of their seats as Southern Greens earned the title with a come-from-behind, 7-6 victory over Dojo Martial Arts.
August ended with the first round of the playoffs in the adult flag football league at the center.
There were no surprises though, as the second through fourth seeds survived, leaving the semifinals with perfect, one versus four and two versus three matchups as teams justified their regular-season finishes. Slim’s Place, the league’s undefeated top seed earned a bye into the semifinals to take on Beach to Bay Construction Broncos. The second game had No. 2 seeded The Feast Redskins taking on third-seeded Jessie’s Island Store Dolphins.
Beach to Bay Construction advanced to the next round in arguably the best opening round playoff game Aug. 28. They outscored Agnelli Pool & Spa Giants 46-34 behind a huge game from receiver KB Belton who finished with 12 catches for 219 yards including four touchdowns and two, two-point conversions.
The second game of the evening saw The Feast ease past Sato Real Estate by a 32-21 score behind the all-around play of Ray Gardner.
The last game of the evening saw Jessie’s Island Store roll to a 34-18 victory over Island Real Estate behind 250 passing yards and five touchdown passes from Ryan Moss.
The summer adult volleyball league at the center ended with championship night Sept. 9.
Florida Discount Signs swept a pair of close games over Sugar Beach Digital 25-20 and 25-23 to win the league title. Jordan Demers and Ryan Moss did it in impressive fashion as well, playing with only two.
Some good golf news came when former island resident George Tebbetts had a hole-in-one during golf outing. Tebbetts aced the 140-yard 12th hole at the Manatee County Golf Course with a 5-iron.
The last big story in September came when Slim’s Place Seahawks defeated The Feast Redskins 33-24 to win the Super Bowl played Sept. 18 at the center. The win completed the first unbeaten and untied adult team since adult sports were added five years ago.
Recreational soccer continued at the center. One strong match saw AMI Donuts earn a solid 4-1 victory over Tyler’s Ice Cream Oct. 22.
The recreational youth soccer playoffs got started Oct. 29 in the 11-13 and 8-10 divisions.
The first playoff game in the11-13 division saw Sugar Beach Digital record a 5-4 victory over Jen Crady Massage. Tyler Brewer scored five goals to offset four goals from Jen Crady Massage’s Alex Rodriguez in the victory.
Smile Deep recorded a 3-0 victory over The Feast in the second playoff game of the evening behind two goals from Zach Fernandez and one goal from Ava Zink.
Fifth-seeded Tyler’s Ice Cream defeated Gulf-Bay Realty 2-1 during the 8-10 division play-in game Oct. 29. Cailyn Connor and Marly Smith scored for Tyler’s.
AMI Fitness rolled to a 6-2 victory over Wash Family Construction during 14-17 division action Oct. 27. Tyler Pearson led the way with four goals while Alex Butram added two goals in the victory.
Island resident Sandy Meneley was in the news in November, highlighting her successes in triathlons and other races. She captured the Ironman Florida triathlon in Panama City Beach Nov. 1 in the 65-69 age division.
Meneley’s first-place age-group performance again qualified her for the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii. Two years ago, Meneley and her daughter competed in Kona with Meneley earning a fourth-place finish.
Meneley was busy in 2014, winning the Escape Fort Desoto Triathlon in April, the Memphis in May Triathlon, the Top Gun Triathlon in July and the Siesta Beach Triathlon in August.
In September, Meneley competed in the ITU World Championship in Edmonton, California, where she finished fourth.
As the year ended, Meneley found herself ranked eighth in the nation in her age group, earning All-American honors and first in the nation in duathlons for another All American honor.
More than 60 men participated in Fall Stag Day at Key Royale Club Nov. 6. Individual low-gross honors went to Tim Friessen with an even-par 32 while Wayne Patterson’s 5-under par 27 gave him low-net honors.
The team of Larry Solberg, John Purcell and Peter Solleveld combined on a 121 for lowest combined score.
Two champions were crowned Nov. 10 as the recreational youth soccer league ended, ending another fun and exciting season of soccer at the center.
The first championship game saw Anna Maria Donuts edge Miller Electric by a 2-1 score. As he has all season, Anthony Monetti carried the offensive load. Monetti scored both goals to lead the top seeds to victory.
Smile Deep defeated Sugar Beach Digital 3-1 Nov. 10 to win the 11-13 division championship. Zach Fernandes scored three goals to lead the way for Smile Deep, which came into the playoffs as the top seed.
Gator Man Pools rolled to a 59-47 victory over Duncan Real Estate Nov. 25 to end Duncan Real Estate’s late-season roll to win the adult basketball championship at the center.
Aaron Dudukes led the Gator squad with 17 points, six rebounds and five assists while Osmond finished with 17 points. Smith added 15 points and five rebounds for the champions, who also received five points from Joe Combs and two points and 12 rebounds from Michael Scpondra in the victory.
The Island Cup final between Dojo Martial Arts and Eason Builders was played Dec. 4 at the center. The game’s significance was put into perspective before kickoff with an appearance by Paul “Ace” Hayward, a longtime soccer player and coach who has been in a long battle against renal cancer.
Hayward received a somewhat unexpected release from Moffitt Cancer Center after a two-week stay and came out to say “hello” to his soccer playing friends and to be there for the unveiling of the new Paul “Ace” Hayward, Island Cup, which is awarded to the center’s adult soccer championship team.
Plummer led the Eason Builders attack with a goal and an assist while Ciasullo, Coleman and Walker each added a goal apiece. Sean Sanders, Klotz and Eason were strong in front of goalie Wes Robinson who finished with 13 saves in the victory.
And the sports story of the year is?
There were four stories that lapped the field in the running for sports story of the year. They are the Smile Deep fundraising soccer tournament, Sandy Meneley’s triathlon successes, Ryan Leestma winning the Gator Half Triathlon and Ken Bowers getting inducted into the North Carolina Wesleyan athletic hall of fame.
All four stories are worthy of winning in their own right, but due to the fact that Ken Bowers is a local product who got his start playing soccer on the island as a kid and ended up in the hall of fame tips the scales in his favor so congratulations to Ken Bowers and his family for being The Islander’s sports story of the year.