In sports it’s all about the numbers. The Sunshine State Games is no different with 16 sports in competition this weekend leading to a bunch of numbers.

Over 2,100 athletes either stepped on to a mat or playing field, climbed in a ring or boat, lifted a bar with weights, dove into a pool, picked up a racquet or paddle at 10 different Florida sports facilities located in four different communities between Friday and Sunday.

They were all vying for a medal in one of three colors – Gold, Silver or Bronze.

Along the way, a few more numbers were compiled at the Sunshine State Games Palm Beach Festival, Treasure Coast Festival, Table Tennis Championships and Rowing Championships.

A total of 31 powerlifters bench pressed, squatted and deadlifted over 13 tons of weight at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The best lifts in three attempts for each of the three categories combined for their scores. Overall, 26,155 pounds of weights were placed on the bar and lifted successfully.

The most successful lifter of the day was Justin Stine, of Boynton Beach, who combined to lift 1,527 pounds (628 squat, 407 bench press, 501 deadlift). He was the only powerlifter to squat more than 600 pounds and bench press more than 400 pounds. The top female powerlifter was Anne Sheehan, of Deerfield Beach, who combined to lift 1,052 pounds.

Playing on eight fields at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches 16 Ultimate teams line up for 24 bracket play games and combined for 438 scoring plays to determine champions.

In the Mixed Division, G-Unit needed only one of those scoring plays to defeat D-Unit, 7-6, in the championship game and win the Mixed Division. It was the third consecutive year the G-Unit team has won the coed/mixed division. GROSS topped Shore Break 13-9 to win the Open Division. Both champions were undefeated in six games, three in pool play and three in bracket play.

The Space Coast team earned the Spirit of the Game Award, given annually to the team that best abides by the responsibility for fair play on the player while encouraging highly competitive play, but never at the expense of mutual respect among competitors, adherence to the agreed upon rules, or the basic joy of play.

In the largest Fencing Division of the weekend, the Senior Men’s Epee, 17 year old Daniel Meija-Ruiz, of Plantation and the Master’s Fencing Academy, rose to the top of the 38-person division to take the gold medal. Meija-Ruiz defeated James Harrington, a physics professor at the University of Central Florida, in the championship match. Harrington is a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose current research interests include planetary and exoplanetary atmospheres, cometary impacts into atmospheres, astronomical data analysis methodology, infrared observing techniques.

At the Rowing Championships, held Saturday at the Clermont Boat House, 23 clubs from around the state glided across the water in 58 races in boats with one, two, four or eight rowers. Of the 23 clubs, 16 won gold medals, led by Gainesville Area Rowing, winning 13 gold medals. The Sarasota Scullers won eight gold medals and the Miami Beach Rowing Club won five.

Seven divisions of Table Tennis were played Sunday in classifications ranging in numbers from 1200 to 2300 according to skill levels. Joel E De Jesus Torres, of Coral Springs, won an Open Division gold medal and U2300 silver medal. In winning the Open Division, De Jesus Torres defeated Gustavo Cruz, of Puerto Rico, in the championship match. Cruz won three gold medals, in the U2100, U2200 and U2500 divisions, during play on Saturday.

In the inaugural year of Sunshine State Games Sailing – Laser Regatta, the two-day event consisted of eight 30-minute races, four on Saturday and four on Sunday. Dave Chapin, of Winter Springs, had the low score of 12 to win the Laser Division Gold Medal and Jacob Fisker-Andersen , of the Florida Yacht Club, won the Laser Redial Division with a low score of nine points. The Laser Regatta’s youngest and oldest competitors were recognized at the end of the event with 15-year old Matthew Smith and 76-year old David Hartman taking the honors.

Over 60 teams are currently scheduled to play in the Sunshine State Games Water Polo Championships, to be played, June 23-25, at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex and Pompano Beach Aquatics Center. Olympic Gold Medalist, Ashleigh Johnson, who made her way through the sport’s ranks as a member of the Riptides team, will return to play goalie, for the Women’s Open Team.

 

SSG completes busiest day of the 2017 Calendar
Saturday, June 17

In an event featuring over 2,000 of Florida’s Finest amateur athletes of all ages, athletes can find themselves face to face against athletes with a much lengthier background than their own. They can realize goals they set for themselves while living a healthier lifestyle and can hear inspirational messages from Olympic athletes who were once in their very same position.

The Palm Beach County Convention Center was transformed Saturday into the center of Florida’s amateur sports world with seven sports, Baton Twirling, Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Karate, Taekwondo and Weightlifting in competition.

Also being held in Palm Beach County was Archery at Gold Coast Archers in Delray Beach and Ultimate at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches. Racquetball, Synchronized Swimming and Track and Field were hosted by the Treasure Coast Sports Commission in St. Lucie and Martin Counties. The Table Tennis Championships were played in Lakeland and the Rowing Championships were in the water in Clermont.

Two-time OIympic Judo Gold Medalist Kayla Harrison paid a visit to athletes at the Palm Beach County Convention Center to begin the Judo competition and sign autographs for athletes.

She gave an inspirational message about her younger days of competing to the 175 judo athletes at the opening ceremony, with a focus on the younger competitors. “Sometimes we lose and it’s going to be hard. But every day you can be motivated and disciplined. A black belt is just a white belt that never quits.”

Besides Harrison’s appearance, another Olympian, Hector Lombard, a former member of the Cuban National Team, now training in Coconut Creek, won a gold medal in the Master’s Division. In his first match of the day, he squared off against James Washington, a 36-year old from the West Palm Beach Judo Club.

Washington admitted that while he lost the match, he held his own against the former Olympic team member and current Mixed Martial Arts fighter and former middleweight champion. “It was fun fighting against him,” Washington said. “I’ve seen the guy on pay-per-views crushing people. He was very quick.”

Barry Armand, a 29-year old boxer from Port St. Lucie (at right in photo), who trains at World Class Boxing in Fort Pierce, won a gold medal in the Novice 201+ Division scoring a win over On Zi Rui, of Singapore, when the referee stopped the contest.

Armand claims boxing saved his life after he was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes at the age of 21 when he weighed nearly 400 pounds. Now the 6-3 boxer is a trim 234 pounds and works out five days a week at the World Class Boxing in Fort Pierce. Today’s bout at the Sunshine State Games was Armand’s ninth amateur bout. A total of 23 bouts were fought today at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Fighters winning two bouts on Friday and Saturday included Kenneth Arzola (Novice 123 lbs), Sergio Pantuso (Novice 152 lbs), Reshwan Lewis (Olympic 152), Justin Almonte (Youth 75/85 lb), Carlos M. Morales (Novice 126 lbs) and Kevin Morales (Novice 114 lbs).

Tyler Reagan, a weightlifter from Jacksonville, had the heaviest combined total lift of the day, with 313kg (690 lbs). His total included a snatch of 135kg (298 lbs) and a clean and jerk of 178kg (392 lbs). The performance won him the Best Male Lifter Award. Devin Leacock, a senior to be at Port Charlotte High School and FHSAA Class 2A State Champion won a gold medal with a combined lift of 265kg. Kayla Pyecha, of Oviedo, won the Best Female Lifter Award with a combined clean and jerk and snatch of 148kg (326 lbs).

The Robert Murphy Spirit Award was presented to Joe Fisher, and 18-year old from Team Florida Gulf Coast Jacksonville, who had a combined lift of 260kg (573 lbs). The Robert Murphy Spirit Award is named after the late SSG Weightlifter and awarded to an athlete who best personifies the Charisma, Fight and Never Say Die Attitude of Murphy.

The Miramar Mermaids were the winners of the Mary Rose High Point Trophy for the Novice and Junior Olympic divisions contested Saturday at the Sailfish Splash Water Park in Stuart. The Mermaids repeated as the Novice Division winner after claiming the trophy in 2016.

Tallahassee’s G-Unit Ultimate team, heads into Mixed Division bracket play Sunday undefeated in three games and looks to win a second consecutive gold medal after winning the Coed Division in 2016. Also undefeated after pool play is the Tampa Tyranny and GROSS in the Open Division and D-Unit in the Mixed Division.

Marcello Olivares, a 16-year old Fencer from Cooper City, advanced out of a field of 31 to win the Men’sFoil event. Olivares, who won the Men’s Foil gold medal in 2015, defeated Rafael Suarez, of the Masters Fencing Academy, in the final match. Suarez won the division in 2014 and won a bronze medal in the 2016 event at the Sunshine State Games.

Olivia Varughese, a Delray Beach Fencer and member of the Masters Fencing Academy, won the Women’s Foil event defeating Lillia Norman of the Stoccata Fencing Club, for the gold medal. Varughese finished 9th in the 2016 Women’s Foil competition.

The SSG Laser Regatta inaugural event is being held at the US Sailing Center Martin County, in Jensen Beach. Under mostly sunny skies and southeasterly breezes of 5 kts to 12 kts, Principal Race Officer (PRO) Ted Page managed to get 4 races completed in the opening day of competition. Dave Chapin of Winter Springs is holding first place by just one point over James Liebl of Titusville. In the Radial division Jacob Fisker-Andersen is holding first place while local Jensen Beach sailors Monica Wilson and Chris Kiener are looking good for a chance at a medal.

Ricardo Herrera, of Doral, won Karate gold medals for the second consecutive year after moving up to another age group. The now 14-year old Herrera won Kata and Kumite gold medals in 2016 in the 12-13 Intermediate Divisions. He won a 2017 gold medal in the 14 – 20 year old Advanced Male Kata Division and in the 14 – 15 year old Male Intermediate/Advanced Kumite Division.

At the SSG Table Tennis Championships in Lakeland, 14-year old Gustavo Cruz, of Puerto Rico, won gold medals in the three highest divisions of play Saturday. Cruz won the U2100, U2200 and U2500 divisions defeating members of the Broward Table Tennis Club, Luis Rodriguez, in the U2500 championship match and Jose Arteaga, in the U2200 final. The Table Tennis Championships continue Sunday at Simpson Park Community Center in Lakeland.

 

WEEKEND PREVIEW

The weekend of June 16-18 is the most active three days of the annual Sunshine State Games calendar with 16 sports taking place in four Florida communities. This busy Sunshine State Games weekend of events has been designated as “Olympic Day,” in conjunction with the United States Olympic Committee.

While Olympic Day is celebrated globally on June 23 to commemorate the birth of the modern Olympic Games on June 23, 1894, the Sunshine State Games will celebrate the mission of Olympic Day during the 16 events behind held this weekend. The mission is to promote the Olympic values of excellence, friendship and respect – and the three Olympic Day pillars – move, learn and discover – around the world.

“This weekend of Sunshine State Games events will be one of the highlights of the amateur sports year in Florida,” said FSF Sr. Vice President Stephen Rodriguez. “Being able to celebrate it with 16 sports and recognizing Olympic Day and the Olympic values of excellence, respect and friendship just adds to the festivities.”

The largest congregation of Florida amateur athletes will be in the Palm Beach County Festival where 10 sports will be contested. The Treasure Coast Festival features four sports while the SSG Rowing Championships are in Clermont and the Table Tennis Championships will be played in Lakeland.

The Palm Beach County Convention Center will be a hub for amateur sports competition as the downtown West Palm Beach facility will host Baton Twirling, Boxing, Fencing, Judo, Karate, Powerlifting, Taekwondo and Weightlifting. Also taking place in the Palm Beach Festival is Archery at Gold Coast Archers in Delray Beach and Ultimate at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

The Treasure Coast Festival, held in Martin & St. Lucie Counties features Racquetball at the Port St. Lucie Civic Center, Sailing – Laser Regatta at the U.S. Sailing Center Martin County in Jensen Beach, Synchronized Swimming at the Sailfish Splash Water Park in Stuart and Track & Field at Sebastian River High School.

Late and on-site registration is still available at www.sunshinestategames.com for the following sports; Archery (through 6/14 and onsite on 6/17), Boxing (through June 15), Judo (through 6/14 and onsite 6/16 from 5:00-10:00 p.m.), Karate (through 6/14), Olympic Weightlifting (through 6/18 and onsite 6/17), Powerlifting (through 6/15), Taekwondo (through 6/14 and onside 6/16 from 6:00 – 9:00 p.m.), Track and Field (through 6/15).

Weekend Highlights

  • Making an appearance at the Palm Beach County Convention Center, visiting the competing athletes will be Kayla Harrison, a two time Olympic Judo gold medalist and first U.S. athlete to win gold in the history of Olympic Judo. She will in attendance and visiting the various sports, on Saturday, June 17, between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m.
  • The Sunshine State Games registration database for this weekend features athletes ranging in ages from 4 to 83.
  • The youngest registered athletes are four-year old Mina Busscher, of Cutler Bay, competing in Synchronized Swimming at Sailfish Splash Water Park in Stuart and Kaydence Kramer, a four-year old Karate athlete from High Springs competing in the Kata event at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The most experienced athlete is 83-year old Stan Mintz, of Highland Beach, who will shoot in the 25 target Archery 3-D event on Sunday at Gold Coast Archers in Delray Beach.
  • With Sunday being Father’s Day, the Sunshine State Games offers dads and their children the opportunity to compete together. A few of the dads and sons and daughters taking advantage of the SSG and amateur sports experience together include fencers John and Catherine Compton, of Winter Springs, and Frets and Marcello Olivera, of Weston. On the racquetball courts together are John and Brendan Abbey, of Winter Park.
  • Then there’s the family of Tampa’s Steve Quillian spending the weekend at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in Taekwondo events. Steve and his three sons, Kolten, Korban and Kaeden, range in age from 5 to 11.
  • Melbourne’s Angie Olds and Tallahassee’s Oliver Austin have been busy on Archery ranges the last couple of weeks. Both competed in the National Senior Games in Birmingham, Alabama the week of June 5, and will shoot at the Sunshine State Games. Olds and Austin are regular archers in Florida Senior Games and Sunshine State Games competitions and Olds is a Florida Senior Games Recurve record holders Both will shoot in the Saturday 28 Target Field Round and the Sunday 900 Round.
  • Terry Abrahams will be competing in her 16th SSG Fencing competition in the last 18 years, since 2000, in the Women’s Foil and Veteran Women’s Foil events. The 80-year old fencer from Tampa is one of three octogenarians competing in this weekend’s events and only missed the 2013 and 2014 Games in the 18 year span.
  • The SSG Fencing Men’s Foil division is always one of the most competitive of the weekend with nearly 30 athletes registered annually. Three past champions, Justin Herman, 2013 of Plantation, Rafael Suarez, of Coral Springs, 2014 and Marcello Olivares, of Cooper City, 2015, are registered to compete at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.

Schedule of Sunshine State Games Events – Friday, June 16 – Sunday, June 18
More detailed schedule information available at www.sunshinestategames.com

Friday, June 16
Boxing, Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 12 Noon

Saturday, June 17
Archery, Gold Coast Archers, Delray Beach, 9:00 a.m.
Baton Twirling Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach
Boxing, Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 12 Noon
Fencing, Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 8:00
a.m.
Judo (Individual competition), Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 9:00 a.m.
Karate, Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 10:00 a.m.
Olympic Weightlifting, Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 10:00 a.m.
Racquetball, Port St. Lucie Civic Center, 8:00 a.m.
Rowing, Clermont Boathouse, 8:30 a.m.
Sailing – Laser Regatta, U.S. Sailing Center Martin County, Jensen Beach, 11:00 a.m.
Synchronized Swimming, Sailfish Splash Water Park, Stuart, 8:00 a.m.
Table Tennis, Simpson Park Community Center, Lakeland, 9:00 a.m.
Taekwondo, Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 10:00 a.m.
Track and Field (Youth Field and Running Events), Sebastian River High School, 9:00 a.m.
Ultimate, Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, 9:00 a.m.

Sunday, June 18
Archery, Gold Coast Archers, Delray Beach, 9:00 a.m.
Baton Twirling Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach
Boxing, Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 12:30 p.m.
Fencing, Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 8:00 a.m.
Judo (Team Shiai Competition), Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 9:00 a.m.
Powerlifting, Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach, 9:00 a.m.
Sailing – Laser Regatta, U.S. Sailing Center Martin County, Jensen Beach, 10:00 a.m.
Synchronized Swimming, Sailfish Splash Water Park, Stuart, 8:00 a.m.
Table Tennis, Simpson Park Community Center, Lakeland, 9:00 a.m.
Taekwondo, Palm Beach County Convention Center, West Palm Beach,9:30 a.m.
Track and Field (Open and Masters Field and Running Events and all Pole Vault events), Sebastian River High School, 9:00 a.m.
Ultimate, Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, 9:00 a.m.

Bonus events at the Sunshine State Games
Friday, June 16
SSG Boxing Opening Ceremony, 12 Noon, Palm Beach County Convention Center
Free Sailing warmup clinic with Jabbo Gordon, 4:00 p.m., U.S. Sailing Center Martin County, Jensen Beach
Strength & Conditioning Sports Performance Clinic, presented by SSG Weightlifting Sport Director, Rich Lansky, 7:00 p.m., Palm Beach County Convention Center

Saturday, June 17
Visit from two-time Olympic Judo gold medalist, Kayla Harrison, Palm Beach County Convention Center, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

June SSG Calendar of Events closes with Olympic Gold Medal winner visit
The month of June closes with the SSG Water Polo Championships in Coral Springs, the weekend of June 23-25. The annual championship will have an added attraction in 2017 as Olympic Gold Medal winning goalie Ashleigh Johnson returns to compete for the Miami Riptides women’s open team. Johnson rose through the ranks in South Florida playing in every age group of the SSG Championships for the Riptides over the years.

Gator Swim Club Dominates Competition at SSG Swimming Championships
Winning 64 gold medals at the Sunshine State Games Swimming Championships, in Gainesville, June 9-11, the Gator Swim Club tallied over 2,100 points en route to the team championship. Of the 10 other teams, none collected more than 1,000 points.

10-year old Lillie Nesty, of the Gator Swim Club, won a total of 10 gold medals, eight individual events and two relay events, to earn the top score in the 10 and under group with 83 points. Her point total was the highest among all swimmers. Three other members of the Gator Swim Club were atop the high point totals as well. Nathan Jacobbe was the boy’s high point champion in the 10 and under group while Jackson O’Neill led the 11-12 boys and Lain Shahboz, led the 13-14 year old girls group.

In the 13-14 year old girls group, the Gator Swim Club had the top five point scores with Emily Kang, Georgia Bates, Laci Herron and Tanya Thatayatikom following Shahboz’s total.

The 38th Annual Sunshine State Games is a Florida amateur sports tradition dating back to 1980, presented annually by the Florida Sports Foundation, the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization. More than 11,000 Florida athletes of all ages will compete in the 2017 Sunshine State Games. Events this weekend are behind held in conjunction with the Palm Beach County Sports Commission, Treasure Coast Sports Commission and Polk County Sports Marketing. Visit www.sunshinestategames.com for more information.

 

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