That’s a Wrap! The 2018 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, host 2500+ athletes over nine days
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The 2018 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, came to a close on Sunday, December 9, at 7:02 p.m., at the North Greenwood Recreation Center when Bob Gill, of Weeki Wachee, and Michael Goodrich, of St. Joseph, Mich., defeated Steve Arlen, of Kissimmee, and John Trafalski, of Hernando, 11-5, 11-5, to win the Men’s Doubles Pickleball Gold Medal in the 75-79 age group.
When the final gold medals were presented to Gill and Goodrich, it brought the nine days of the 27th Annual Florida Senior Games to a conclusion, where over 2,500 athletes, age 50 and over, competed in 25 sports.
A closer look at the numbers involved in the annual Olympic-style Sports Festival finds, 47 of 50 states were represented, with exceptions being Idaho, Montana, North Dakota. Eight total countries were represented (USA, Barbados, Canada, Cayman Islands, Netherlands, Slovakia, United Kingdom, US Minor Islands) and athletes from 262 Florida cities traveled to Clearwater for the Games.
Harrison Wins with Paddles in Two Sports
Deb Harrison, of The Villages, wrapped up six days of events winning her third Pickleball gold medal of the 2018 Games teaming with Ruth Weil, also from The Villages, to win the Women’s Doubles 70-74 age group. Since 2005, Harrison has won a total of 31 gold medals in Women’s Singles and Doubles and Mixed Doubles.
Harrison and Ernie Tomlinson, also of The Villages, advanced through the 16-team, 65-69 age group bracket, to win the gold medal for the third time in four years. Harrison and Tomlinson were undefeated in four matches and defeated Mary Ann Charmoz, of Dunedin, and Dennis Sweeney, of Largo, 11-5, 11-3 in the final match.
It was Harrison’s 13th mixed doubles gold medal dating back to 2004. After winning the Women’s Singles gold medal, the victory marked the third different age group she has won a gold medal. The 2018 Women’s Singles championship was her eighth overall women’s singles title since 2005.
Earlier in the week, Harrison won Table Tennis medals in Mixed Doubles and Women’s Singles and Doubles.
Kaye plays on Open and Confined Courts
Tobias Kaye, of Boca Raton, and Rick Owen, of Boyne City, Mich., advanced out of the 18-team Pickleball Men’s Doubles 65-69 age group bracket, winning five matches. The duo was pushed to three games in both the semifinal and final matches and they defeated Ed Falkenberg and Rick Johnson, Jr., of Ill., in the championship match 4-11, 11-3, 12-10.
Kaye also won bronze medals in Racquetball during the first weekend of the Florida Senior Games in the 65-69 age group and a gold in Men’s Singles in 2016. He competed in Men’s and Mixed Doubles pickleball in the 2017 Games and did not earn a medal.
Rain, Rain Went Away and Athletes Ran to Finish Line
With an hour and a half of morning rain to start the final day of the Games, the start time of the Track and Field running events was delayed until 11:45 a.m. and all races were completed by 4:00 p.m. at Clearwater High School.
A total of 12 age group records were set, with nine coming in women’s sprint races, four in the 50-meter dash, four in the 100-meter dash and one in the 200-meter. Johnnie Reid, of Naples, set new marks in the 55-59 age group with a 50-meter time of 7.59 and a 100-meter time of 14.15. Jane Barnes, of Raleigh, N.C., was the only other woman to set two new records with a dash of 8.34 in the 50 meter and a time of 15.58 in the 100 meter.
Mary Kemp, of Boca Raton, set the 95-99 age group record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 2:13.32. She is the first woman to ever compete in the age group in the 27 years of the Florida Senior Games.
Alan Wells, of Inverness, set a new record in the 800-meter run with a time of 2:17.34, 23 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher in the age group. Wells now holds the 800-meter run records in the 50-54 and 55-59 age groups.
The 2015 FSG Female Athlete of the Year, Danuta Kubelik, of Crystal River, ran in all five races (100, 200, 400, 800 and 1500 meters), winning gold medals in the 70-74 age group. She also won a gold medal in the 5K Road Race the previous day.
Georgia Team Finds the Net in Florida
In Basketball action at Highland Recreation Center, the Georgia Boys, scored 97 or more points in each of their four games en route to the gold medal in the 60-64 age group. They defeated FL/GA Line 97-39 in the Championship Game and won their four games by an average margin of 53 points.
The Broward Heat Women’s 55-59 team was undefeated in four games to win the gold medal. The Heat topped Second Wind, of Reno, Nev., 65-38 in the championship game. Ida Montgomery led the Heat with 19 points in the championship game and totaled 98 points in all four games.
Volleyball Teams Enjoy New Clearwater Area Facility
The Sugar and Spikes Women’s Volleyball team, from Canada, was undefeated in three pool play matches at Morningside Recreation Center and two bracket play games to win the 55+ Gold Medal. Sugar and Spikes defeated the Stingers, from Bristol, Va., 25-11, 25-16, in the Championship match.
In the Men’s Volleyball division, the Spikers, from Palm Harbor, were undefeated in four pool play matches to win the 50+ age group gold medal for the second consecutive year.
Rack ‘Em and Break ‘Em
Lonnie McNew, of Ocala, closed out the weekend with a pair of Billiards gold medals, winning the Eight Ball competition Saturday and the Eight Ball Doubles event on Sunday. He teamed with Dan Newby for the doubles gold.
It was McNew’s first Eight Ball gold medal and his second Eight Ball Doubles gold medal. He also won two Nine Ball gold medals in 2016 and 2017.
Of the 35 players on the tables playing Nine Ball on the first day of competition, three carried the same last name. Bond Thornton, of Tallahassee, played with his sons Bruce and Eric.
While attending Florida State University, following a stint in the military service, Thornton worked at the University’s student union bowling alley, which also had pool tables. His sons tagged along with their dad and developed a talent for the game as well.
Bruce and Eric tied for third place in the 50-54 age group and Bond competed in a six-person pool in the 75-79 age group.
Race Walker Celebrates Anniversary of Becoming An Amputee with Gold Medal Performance
Day eight of the 2018 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, got off to a big start at Crest Lake Park in Clearwater with a milestone anniversary of a race walker and some exciting finishes on foot and on bicycles.
Gary Bertelsen, of New Smyrna Beach, crossed the finish line with a gold medal winning time of 33:30.50 in the 70-74 age group, on a prosthetic left leg, on the 30th anniversary of becoming an amputee. He had a “deer hunting accident in Wisconsin,” in November of 1979 and had his left leg amputated above the knee, the following month, on December 8.
He admitted after the race that “running as an amputee kicks your butt,” even though he was a runner until three years ago and even ran in the New York City Marathon in 1995.
“I entered a race walk competition by accident,” he said. “I thought it was a 5K running race but found out otherwise. It made me learn how to race walk. I watched some videos before the race to learn the rules and now I love it.”
It was his first participation in the Florida Senior Games and also won a gold medal in the 1500-meter Race Walk with a time of 9:42.
Naples Couple Take Top 5K Road Race Time Awards
Taking off 10 minutes before the Race Walkers, the husband and wife team of Edward and Angela Blankenship, of Naples, turned in the 5K Road Race top overall men’s and women’s times and earned gold medals in the 50-54 age groups. Edward was the first overall finisher with a time of 17:51.10 and Angela crossed the finishing line at 25:42.10.
Edward’s run to the finish line did not come easy as the top three overall finishers were 14 seconds apart and Derek Larner, from Grand Cayman, was just over a second behind Blankenship.
“It was very close,” Blankenship said. “We kept swapping the lead. I led the first mile, he may have led the second mile, and the guy who came in third (Thomas Hampton, of Miami) led for a while. I surged forward with just a little bit left in the course. It was pretty close the whole way.”
Angela’s top female time was 17 seconds ahead of the silver medalist in the 50-54 age group, Roberta Meyer.
Veteran Cyclists Maneuver Downtown Clearwater Roadways for Gold
Across the way on Cleveland Avenue, there were more close finishes in the 20K and 40K Cycling Road Races. Kathy Petrillo, of Jupiter, who was the 2016 FSG Female Athlete of the Year, and Pete Butler, of Tallahassee, were the top finishers but each of their gold medals were decided by a second or less.
Butler’s 20K time of 33:00.54 nudged Kevin Clark, of Miami, with a time of 33:01.45. In the 40K, the difference between the two was 2/100 of a second.
Two days earlier, cyclists on finely engineered bicycles riding for top Time Trials marks at one of Florida’s top beach destinations. On the roads of Fort DeSoto, with the Gulf of Mexico a few hundred yards away, Patrick Bohan, of Buena Vista, Colo., and Petrillo, proved themselves as the fastest riders in the 5K and 10K Time trials turning in the top overall times in both races.
Bohan had the best men’s times with a 6:57 in the 5K Time Trials and a 13:50 in the 10K. Petrillo pedaled to a top time of 7:40 in the 5K and 14:44 in the 10K.
Petrillo holds the 50-54 and 55-59 age group records in both the 5K and 10K Time Trials and upped her gold medal total to 15 since 2012.
While Bohan and Petrillo may have posted the top overall times, William Otto, of Coral Springs, set new records in the 85-89 age group that had stood for 20 years. His time of 9:35 in the 5K topped the previous record by 38 seconds and 18:44 in the 10K was 1:33 faster than the previous mark. Both of the previous records were set by Brian McGrath, of St. Petersburg, in 1999.
Perfection from the Charity Stripe
Ronn Wyckoff, of Sarasota, was a perfect 30 for 30 in the Basketball Shooting Free Throw event, at Highland Recreation Center, to win the 75-79 age group gold medal. He edged Harry Carothers, of Pinellas Park, who hit 29 of 30. It was the second time Wyckoff recorded the perfect score at the Florida Senior Games, as he accomplished the feat in 2015.
Chris Evans, of The Villages, had the highest women’s Free Throw Shooting total, hitting 24 of 30 from the line. It was her third consecutive gold-medal winning performance in the 65-69 age group.
In the Spot Field Goal Shooting, Garland Reynolds, of Frostproof, hit all 15 shots of the competition to win the 65-69 age group gold medal. Reynolds hit all five shots from different places on the court in all three rounds.
In the Timed Field Goal Shooting, William Oliver, of Reunion, hit 24 three pointers and an outside shot for a total of 122 points to win the 65-69 age group gold medal.
Laura Fowle, of Brooksville, had the highest women’s point total with 108 points, hitting 20 three pointers.
Tiny Cazel Jumps and Throws Heavy Objects in Record-Breaking Performances
Of the 12 age group records broken in Field Events of the Track and Field competition, Madelaine “Tiny” Cazel, broke three in the 80-84 age group records with a long jump of 8 feet 10.5 inches, a shot put of 23 feet, 3.5 inches, and a discus throw of 65 feet, two inches. The 2003 FSG Female Athlete of the Year, Cazel, from The Villages, topped her own discus throw record, set last year, by 13 feet, and she now holds 10 field event records in the 70-74, 75-79 and 80-84 age groups.
Troy Bellrichard, of Spring Valley, Minn., set a new record in the 50-54 age group with a Discus Throw of 152 feet, seven inches. He broke the previous mark, set in 1998, by Bruce Hedendal, of Delray Beach, by over nine feet.
Playing That Pickleball
Florida Senior Games Pickleball continues to grow and become more competitive as over 350 players, were in action on 10 courts at the North Greenwood and Ross Norton Recreation Center, over the course of four days.
After singles competition on the first of four days, a total of 65 mixed doubles teams, 75 men’s doubles teams, and 55 women’s doubles teams, fought their way through crowded brackets for medals and the opportunity to advance to the 2019 National Senior Games.
Gary Miller, of The Villages, and Steve Wojcik, of Naperville, Ill., won their fourth consecutive men’s doubles gold medal in the 60-64 age group. They defeated Paul Cash, of The Villages, and Doug McClintlock, of St. Augustine, in the championship match.
Erica Gonzalez, of Poinciana, had a sweep of all three competitions winning the 50-54 age group Women’s Singles Gold medal and teamed with Eric Kennedy, of Englewood, to win the 13-team mixed doubles bracket in the 50-54 age group.
Finally, Gonzalez and her Women’s Doubles partner, Sylvia Whitehouse, of Palm Coast, won their fourth consecutive gold medal in the 50-54 age group. The pair also won a gold medal at the 2017 National Senior Games.
Three men’s singles players repeated as gold medalists in their age group. Doug McClintlock, of St. Augustine, won the 60-64 age group for the second consecutive year, Doug Hastings, of Alexandria, Va., repeated in the 65-69 age group and Gabriel Wong, of Ponte Vedra Beach, repeated as the 70-74 age group gold medalist.
Throw Some More Weight on That Bar
Among those Powerlifting at the Safety Harbor Recreation Center, Ellen Stein, from Brooklyn, N.Y., won the Best Overall Lifter, with a women’s overall best total of 992 pounds (198 lb bench press, 358 lb squat and 435 lb deadlift). She was the lone lifter in the 65-69 age group.
Stein started powerlifting in her 40s and has now been stepping up to the bar for over 20 years. She regularly cites, “You’re never too old to start something new and you are never too old to keep going.”
Sam Beckwith, of Lakeland, won the Best Male Overall Lifter with the men’s overall best total lift of 1,758 pounds (485 lb bench press, 611 lb squat and 661 lb deadlift), winning a gold medal in the 50-54 age group. Beckwith was one of only four male powerlifters to eclipse the 1000 pound mark. The other three were Edward Perez III, in the 50-54 age group with 1,019 pounds, Glenn Pedreira, in the 60-64 age group with 1,102 pounds and Larry Grant, also in the 606-4 age group with 1,328 pounds.
Beckwith increased his total from the 2017 games by more than 100 pounds, as he combined to lift 1,653 pounds in 2017.
The powerlifters, ranging in age from 50 to 84, who competed at the Safety Harbor Community Center combined to lift over 15 tons, 30,482 pounds of weights on the bar in all three events (bench press, squat and deadlift). A pair of 80-84 age group lifters, Robert Cseh and Bill Tinkler, each had successful bench presses of more than 150 lbs. Tinkler bench pressed 159 pounds while Cseh had a bench press of 181 lbs.
Florida Senior Games gets Gulf War Veteran Out Back Outdoors
From Monday, December 3 through Saturday, December 8, Calvin Lawrence, from Lake Alfred, was out and about competing in four sports of the 2018 Florida Senior Games.
Lawrence is a military veteran who suffered from PTSD after the Gulf War. He said after pitching horseshoes at Ed C. Wright Park, he “stayed indoors” for three years after serving his country.
Competing in Senior Games events has brought him back out and is once again a very outgoing person. He’s in the 55-59 age group and said there’s not enough folks for him to play against. He was in four different sports (Bag Toss, Horseshoes, Table Tennis, and Track and Field).
Lawrence’s medal total consisted of a silver medal in Horseshoes, a bronze medal in Bag Toss.
“I need some people to come out and play with me and compete against me,” he said.
Humana Game Changer Claudette Braswell Uses Focus and Accuracy to Win FSG Gold
On the seventh of nine days of the 2018 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, athletes were busy hurling horseshoes across the court hoping to hear the clank of the iron post for a ringer at Ed C. Wright Park.
After rolling 21 Sunshine Balls, in a competition creating healthy food snacks, among the Humana Game Changers Wednesday night at the Celebration of Athletes, Claudette Braswell, of Lake Wales, won the Horseshoes Women’s 80-84 age group gold medal with a 48.3 ringer percentage. In 60 throws, she had 29 ringers.
Her total was the second-highest percentage, behind Carl Nordquist, of Lake Wales, who hit 48 ringers in 90 throws for a 53.3 ringer percentage, to win the Men’s 80-84 gold medal.
It was Braswell’s 11th consecutive Horseshoes gold medal since 2008. Her Sunshine Balls rolling effort from the previous night earned a charitable contribution to the Lake Wales Care Center of $6,100.
In the 2018 Florida Senior Games, Braswell focused on sports involving focus and accuracy. In her competition in Horseshoes, Basketball Shooting and Bag Toss, she aims for a stationary target of a range of sizes, at a variety of distances, with different objects.
“When I’m competing, I have an inner peace and calm through my faith, that helps me with my focus,” she said. “I also exercising and stretch when I’m sitting out between games to also help me focus and stay calm. When I get back to pitching or shooting, I have a slow, relaxed and smooth delivery.”
She won gold medals in in Basketball Shooting Free Throw, Spot Shooting and Timed Field Goal Shooting, winning her 15th Free Throw Shooting gold medal in 16 years dating back to 2003. During the long run of gold medals, Braswell’s total of made free throws has never dropped below 20, for a 66.7% accuracy rate. Her best effort came in 2008 when she hit 27 of 30 free throws.
She is also a regular gold medalist in the Basketball Shooting events because of a three-day-a-week practice schedule on a local basketball court.
“About two months before the Senior Games, I begin practicing on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 6:30 to 9:00 a.m.,” Braswell said. “Then I pitch horseshoes twice a week with a local club.”
Her focus and determination are what earned her the 2007 Florida Senior Games Athlete of the Year and the Humana Game Changer honor in 2018.
Celebrating the Senior Athletes
The sixth day of competition ended with the Celebration of Athletes at The Long Center in Clearwater where a group of athletes were recognized for their dedication to athletics and fitness. Athletes in attendance were treated to music, food, and fellowship in a gymnasium transformed into an elegant reception area.
Four Humana Game Changers were honored at the Celebration of Athletes and took part in a No Bake, Bake Off where Leurene Hildenbrand, of Pinellas Park; Karen Westermann, of St. Petersburg; James White of Naples; and Claudette Braswell, of Lake Wales, rolled healthy snack ball for five minutes to determine a winner.
In the end, with a total of 21 Sunshine Balls rolled, Claudette Braswell topped Westermann’s 14, Hildenbrand’s 13 and White’s 12. White won a Men’s Singles Pickleball gold medal in the 90-94 age group before coming to the Celebration to be recognized and compete.
For their efforts, the Game Changers earned contributions local food organizations. Braswell’s winning total earned $6,100 for the Care Center of Lake Wales ($100 for each of the 21 treats made and an additional $4,000 from Humana).
Leurene Hildenbrand, of Pinellas Park, competed for the Akron/Canton, Ohio Regional Food Bank, Karen Westermann, of St. Petersburg, received a contribution to Feeding Tampa Bay and James White, of Naples, rolled Sunshine Balls for St. Vincent DePaul’s Society.
Also recognized were the 2017 Florida Senior Games Athletes of the Year, Carol Teel, a bowler from The Villages and Mike Welter, a pickleball player from Cape Coral.
Bending the Lawn Bowls
In the Lawn Bowls competition at the Clearwater Lawn Bowls and Shuffleboard Club, Sandy Wall and Cathy Mills, of Clearwater, won the gold medal, while Arthur Allen and Dave Murray, took the silver. Allen and Murray have medaled in each of the four years Lawn Bowls has been held in the Games in Clearwater.
Taking the bronze medals were Duncan Farrell and Alice Dunkley while Cindy Higgins and Bob Fladung were the fourth-place finishers.
Mixed Doubles Tennis Gives Married Couples an Outlet for Competition together
Multiple gold medal winners, Judi and Aubrey Whitaker, of Lake Wales, were paired on the courts, in mixed doubles against another couple, Michelle and Julian Rainwater, of Ponte Vedra Beach, who were making their first appearance in FSG mixed doubles.
While the Whitaker’s have played tennis together throughout their marriage and have FSG experience dating back to 2010. The Rainwater’s combined have over 100 years of athletic competition experience as Julian was a high school and college athlete and Michelle has spent most of her life on the courts.
“This is going to be the toughest opening round match we’ve ever played,” said Aubrey Whitaker, prior to the match, making note of Julian Rainwater’s men’s singles gold medal a few days earlier.
Whitaker correctly foresaw the future as he and Judi, won a tough, one hour and 40-minute, two set match 6-3, 7-6, with the final game being won, 10-8 in a USTA Coman set tie break.
After the Whitaker’s won the first set, the Rainwater’s held a 4-3 lead, halfway through the second set. The Whitaker’s took the next two games and rallied from a 40-15 deficit to tie the set at 5-5. Things went back and forth to a 6-6 tie.
In the final tie breaking game to seven while winning by two points, the Whitaker’s took a 5-1 lead before the Rainwater’s scored the next five points to take a 6-5 lead.
Again, points went back and forth until an 8-8 tie and as Michelle Rainwater passed an exhausted Aubrey Whitaker during a side switch, she smiled and said, “C’mon, this is fun.”
The Whitaker’s scored the tie breaker’s last two points with the final point coming on a shot deep in the corner from Aubrey, which Julian was unable to return over the net.
The competitive nature of all four players was on display as each team scored points on well-placed and well-timed sharp shots past each other and finding open spots on the court to drop a shot. After many of those scoring shots, there was mutual respect and sportsmanship on display as compliments were passed back and forth over the net.
Julian was a high school and collegiate track and field athlete who attended Wake Forest University as a member of the track and field and football teams. He registered to compete in track and field events at Clearwater High School but did not return for the Long Jump and Pole Vault on Saturday and the 50- and 100-meter dashes on Sunday.
It was his track and field experience that got him started playing tennis at the age of 40. “I could get the ball really quick,” he said. “Then I need to learn how to be a tennis player.”
His wife, Michelle, has been playing tennis since the age of 14 and has played recreationally all of her life. “When I’m on the courts, I’m not a wife, a mother, or a female,” she said. I’m a player.”
Aubrey Whitaker was a basketball coach at Lake Wales High School and Lake Highland Prep, in Orlando, but on the courts, it’s Judi who calls the shots for the team that competes in Husband/Wife Combo Tournaments around the country.
In the final day of six days of Tennis matches at Innisbrook Resort and Gold Club, Jeff and Ann Winkler, of St. Petersburg, won the 60-64 age group gold medal for the second time in three years. The Winklers defeated Pauline Stropp and Donald Schadt, of The Villages, 6-1, 6-1, in the championship match.
On Men’s and Women’s Doubles Tennis Championship Day at Innisbrook Resort and Golf Club, Jay Bortner & Barry Shollenberger, of Valrico, won their third consecutive men’s doubles tennis gold medal in 2018 and fourth in five years in 70-74 age group.
Bortner and Shollenberger defeated Fred King and Richard Scott in the championship match 6-3, 1-6 and 11-9 in the tiebreaker game. Bortner has won men’s doubles medals every year since 2010, in the 70-74 and 65-69 age groups, and teamed with Shollenberger to win gold in 2010, 2014.
Earl Harry, of Davenport, and Barry Recht, of Auburndale, defeated Jim Norfolk, of Kissimmee, and Thomas Waye, of Poinciana, 6-1, 6-2, in the Men’s 60-64 age group final.
“The score did not indicate how close the match really was,” said Harry. “There were a lot of long games that went to deuce. We had some good shots after some long volleys.”
Both Norfolk and Waye competed in Men’s Singles and Norfolk won a bronze medal in the 60-64 age group. He also won the 60-64 Men’s Singles silver medal at the 2017 Games.
A pair of long-time medal winners continued their winning ways in Men’s and Women’s Singles Tennis as Martha Poitevent, of St. Augustine and Barry Shollenberger, of Valrico won their respective championship matches.
Poitevent won her seventh consecutive Women’s Singles gold medal, in the 70-74 age group, dating back to the 2012 Games. She defeated Joanne Collier, of Mulberry, 6-0, 6-2 in the championship match. Shollenberger won his second gold in three years in the 75-79 age group, defeating Bob Mason, of Dewey, Okla., 6-1, 6-2, in the final.
The Difference A Single Stroke Makes on the Golf Course
On the final day of 36-hole golf, the Men’s 60-64 age group was determined by a USGA Tie-Breaking procedure while the Men’s 70-74 and Women’s 65-69 age group medal winners were one stroke apart.
Martin Black, of Clearwater, held a two-stroke lead over Broward Sapp after Tuesday’s round with a score of 80 over Sapp’s 82. On Wednesday, Sapp carded an 85 to Black’s 87. The USGA tiebreaker, in a 36-hole play, awards the lowest score over the last 18 holes, thereby giving Sapp the gold medal, with a two-day score of 167.
In the 70-74 age group, Ed Hoover, of Tallahassee, held on to his one stroke lead from Tuesday, as both he and Nick Kent, of The Villages, shot a 79 on Wednesday. Hoover won the gold medal with a two-day score of 153, while Kent shot a 154 and Tom Buck, of Indian Rocks Beach, took the bronze with a 155.
“I hit fairways and greens all day,” said Hoover, who was the manager at Tallahassee’s Killearn Country Club from 1997-2003. “My nickname is Steady Eddie. I had 15 pars. I played my game today (Day One).”
Hoover, who played in his first Florida Senior Games, faced tough conditions when he qualified at the Capital City Senior Games, in Tallahassee. In the March qualifier, the day started out with rain and 40-degree weather.
Debra Whipkey, of Pensacola, held on to top Diane Zaring, of Ponte Vedra Beach, by one stroke to win the Women’s 65-69 gold medal. Her four-stroke lead heading into Wednesday’s play was just enough as Zaring shot a second day score of 89 to Whipkey’s 92.
Whipkey also won a gold medal at the 2017 National Senior Games with a three-day score of 255. She shot an 87, 83 and 85 and won the 60-64 age group gold medal by two strokes.
The Streak Continues for John Shultz
For the 26th consecutive year, a Table Tennis medal was placed around the neck of Sarasota’s John Shultz. He has been a medal winner at all but one of the Florida Senior Games, the inaugural 1992 Games.
Shultz, the 2009 Florida Senior Games Male Athlete of the Year, won the Men’s Singles gold medal in the 80-84 age group and paired with Deane Chickering, of The Villages, to win the Men’s Doubles gold in the same age group.
His streak began in 1993 while competing in the 55-59 age group, and Shultz has now won 15 Men’s Singles gold medals in six age groups. He teamed with Chickering to win their sixth men’s doubles gold medal since 2008.
The Sun City Center Women’s Doubles team of Jan Cline and Audrey Columbia won their seventh consecutive gold medal and third straight in the 80-84 age group. Cline also extended her consecutive years medal winning streak to 25 years.
Florida Senior Games Table Tennis Welcomes Well-Traveled Paralympic Athlete
A Paralympic Athlete who has competed in Table Tennis competitions all over the world in destinations such as London, Venezuela, Slovenia and Brazil, only had to drive 40 miles to compete in the 2018 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana.
Tara Profitt, of Apollo Beach, competed in the 1984 and 2012 Paralympic Games and played in the 2009 and 2011 Para Pan Am Games. She had a fourth place Women’s Singles finish in the 2011 Para Pan Am Games and won two silver medals in Women’s and Mixed Doubles and a bronze Women’s Singles in the 50-54 age group.
This is her fourth year of competing in a wheelchair at the Florida Senior Games and she has been a medalist in each of her appearances.
“I turned 50 and decided to give it a try,” Profitt said. “All of the people here are young and there’s a lot of good players.”
Profitt broke her neck when diving into a swimming pool and hit the bottom when she was 13 years old. She has been active and involved in sports all of her life. With two brothers, she was involved in all of the sports they played.
“I was a tomboy,” she said.
She began playing table tennis while in college at Central Connecticut State University and competed in the 1984 Paralympic Games. She “retired,” from Table Tennis, after graduating from college like many Senior Games athletes, to begin a professional career in payroll services at a variety of companies over the years and to raise a family.
While Profitt has become a regular at the Florida Senior Games over the last four years, she is currently undecided on whether she will attempt to qualify for the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo, with a performance at the 2019 Para Pan Am Games.
Among the other Table Tennis athletes competing Monday, Garth Jordan, of Tampa, Yujun Li, of Clearwater, and Joan Ruggeiro, of Jacksonville, scored a hat trick of gold medals winning in Singles, Doubles and Mixed Doubles. Ruggeiro won her fifth consecutive gold medal, and seventh overall since 2011. Today’s win came in the 65-69 age group.
First Weekend of 2018 Florida Senior Games concludes with epic finish in Swimming Pool
Over the first weekend of competition in the 2018 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, over 800 athletes competed in eight sports in various locations in Clearwater and Pinellas County.
The Sunday of the first weekend of competition, saw a “Who’s Who” of Florida Senior Games swimming record-holders at The Long Center in Clearwater in the 200-yard intermediate medley 65-69 age group event.
When J. Nathan Leech, of The Villages; George Schmidt, of West Palm Beach; and Rudy Vazmina, of Sarasota climbed onto the starting blocks, the trio brought with them a combined 17 record-setting performances over their years in the Florida Senior Games.
After the first 50-yard leg of the race, the Butterfly, George Schmidt held the lead followed by Rudy Vazmina and Nathan Leech. After the second leg, the Backstroke, Leech had moved into second place and closed the gap on Schmidt in the third leg, the Breaststroke.
Entering the final leg, the Freestyle, Schmidt held a slight lead over Leech. By the time the two made the turn for the final 25 yards to the finish line, they were even.
“He looked at me, and I looked at him and we were off,” said Leech.
At the finish line, Leech touched the pad at 2:35.98 and Schmidt was right behind at 2:36.27. Vazmina came in third with a time of 2:42.34
Over the weekend, the FSG Men’s Swimming elite combined for 16 medals, including nine gold medals. They have also won numerous medals at the National Senior Games.
Over two days and 17 events in men’s and women’s competition, 52 age group records were broken.
Salvatore Principe Joins a FSG Elite Bowling Club
Joining elite company as the newest member of the Florida Senior Games’ 300 Club, was Salvatore Principe, of Bradenton. Principe is the sixth member of the club and bowled a perfect game in his third and final game of Men’s Singles to win the 60-64 age group gold medal.
“It’s ironic because my previous 300’s were in the final game,” Principe said. “In the earlier games today, there were a lot of high scores. The lanes were conducive to high scores.”
Principe’s 12th and final strike of the game came when he crossed over to what he the “Brooklyn side.” Instead of hitting the right side of the head pin, it crossed over to the left side of the head pin.
“It was probably my worst shot of the day,” he said. “I just got lucky that it went across and got it. When you bowl a 300 game, you’ve got to have some luck.”
Principe grew up bowling in Brooklyn, N.Y., and in leagues as an adult in New Jersey had never bowled a perfect game. Since moving to Bradenton four years ago, he has rolled three. It was his second consecutive Men’s Singles gold medal in the 60-64 age group.
The five other members of the FSG Perfect Game Club are Gerald Brunette, of Naples (2006), Richard Merrill, of The Villages (2010), Lawrence Draeger, of Pensacola (2011), Carol Teel, of The Villages (2012), and Gregory Lindsay, of North Fort Myers (2017).
After Men’s and Women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles and Singles competition, Gregory Lindsay, of North Fort Myers, and Ginger Barbracovey, of Cantonment, earned the FSG Bowling Most Pins Award. Lindsay knocked down 2,031 pins along the way to a gold, silver, and bronze medal. Barbracovey, who won Women’s Doubles gold, a Women’s Singles silver, and had a fourth-place finish sent 1,998 pins to the floor.
At the Richey Racquet Club
Scott Reid, of Tampa, and Larry Ardito, of Bonita Springs, were double gold medal winners earning Men’s Singles and Doubles Racquetball medals over the weekend at Richey Racquet.
Reid won the Men’s Singles 50-54 division winning two matches Saturday, and teamed with Edward Powers, of Venice, to win four matches and earn the Men’s Doubles 50-54 age group gold medals.
Ardito won the Men’s Singles 70-74 age group on Saturday and won the Men’s Doubles, with partner Gerald Goebel, of Jensen Beach, winning four matches in the 65-69 age group for the gold medal.
Prolific Shufflers Continue to Push Discs to Victory
Following the second day of competition at the Clearwater Lawn Bowls and Shuffleboard Complex, Linda Armstrong, of Lakeland, Donald Greenlee, of The Villages, and Paul Allaire, of Clearwater, picked up their second gold medals of the weekend.
Armstrong teamed with Carol Helfer, of The Villages, to win the 65-69 age group. Greenlee partnered with Paul Ayotte, also of The Villages, while Allaire and Pete Desjardins, of Safety Harbor, won their third consecutive gold medal in the 80-84 age group. Allaire, at 97 years old, had to play down two age groups to team with the younger Desjardins.
In singles competition, Henry and Linda Armstrong, of Lakeland, continued their gold medal winning ways. Linda won her 10th Women’s Singles gold medal, dating back to 2007, in the 65-69 age group gold, and Henry claimed his 10th Men’s Singles gold medal dating back to 2005 in the 70-74 age group.
The Games’ Most Experienced Athlete, 97-year-old Paul Allaire, of Clearwater, won the gold medal in the 95-99 age group. Allaire is one of only 11 Florida Senior Games athletes to compete in the 95-99 age group in the 27 years of the Games.
Archery Arrows Flying Toward Targets
In what long-time Archery Sport Director Tim Austin called “difficult conditions with gusting winds,” at the Joe DiMaggio Sports Complex, James Harden, of Ocala, turned in the top score of the day shooting an 875, of a possible 900, to win the Compound Release gold medal in the 55-59 age group.
The top women’s performance came from Melanie White, of Weston, with a score of 859. Both Harden and White hold the top all-time scores in Florida Senior Games history as Harden shot an 891 of a the possible 900 in the 2011 Games Compound and Release event and White scored an 877 in the 2013 Games.
Another first-time Florida Senior Games participant, Tatyana Muntyan, of Delray Beach, established an all-time high Women’s Recurve record, with a score of 836, to win the 50-54 age group gold medal. Muntyan, currently a member of the U.S. National Team, Senior Division, competed for the Soviet Union at the Seoul 1988 Olympic Games.
The Art and Grace of Tai Chi
Clearwater’s David Wong Yee won his third consecutive Men’s Advanced Hand Form Gold Medals and Janet Montague, of Bradenton, won her third consecutive Women’s Sword Advanced Gold Medal at the Countryside Recreation Center. Wong Yee and Montague are the only FSG Tai Chi athletes to have won gold medals in any category in all three years of Tai Chi competition in the Florida Senior Games.
Wong Yee also added a Weapons Advanced Gold Medal and a Sword Advanced gold medal.
Dominoes in Port St. Lucie
Joining the Florida Senior Games roster of events in 2018 was Dominoes, as it was contested at the St. Lucie Cricket & Sports Association, in Port St. Lucie. George Sherman won the tournament, which was based on the “accumulated scores principle,” applied throughout the tournament. All players competed in seven rounds during the day’s competition.
Ulerich Branch took second place, while Hermon Bent finished third and Owen Jureidini came in fourth place.