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The Florida High School Athletic Association girls volleyball district tournaments are now less than one month away and plenty of important matches remain on the regular-season schedule.

Bartow High hosts Class 6A, District 11 counterpart Plant City on Monday, Sept. 23, in a rematch from Aug. 20 when the Yellow Jackets opened the year with a 3-0 setback to the Raiders. Bartow also played at Sebring on Sept. 17 – results were unavailable at press time – and will host McKeel Academy on Thursday, Sept. 19.

The Yellow Jackets entered this week with a 9-8 overall record, including a 2-3 mark at the Winter Park High School Showcase. The multi-team tournament, which featured three separate divisions, took place last Friday and Saturday at the Orlando Sports Center/Orlando Tampa Volleyball Academy.

Bartow finished third in the Classic Division’s Pool A, following a win over Miami Sunset High (25-21, 22-25, 15-12) and losses to Space Coast (22-25, 25-15, 6-15) and Lake Howell (15-25, 9-25).

The Yellow Jackets were relegated to the Classic Division-Silver Bracket on Saturday where they registered a 27-25, 30-28 semifinal victory over Cocoa Beach, as Daisie Novak had 26 assists and Gabi Schaal (13 kills) and Chloe Maxwell combined for 21 kills.

Sunset awaited Bartow in the Silver Bracket championship match, where the Knights emerged with a 25-21, 25-23 decision.

Elsewhere, Winter Haven High travels to St. Cloud High on Saturday (Sept. 21) for the Bulldogs’ varsity tournament. The Blue Devils and Bulldogs not only compete in Class 6A, District 10, but St. Cloud is also hosting next month’s district tournament.

The Blue Devils headed into this week with an 8-3 overall record, punctuated by recent 3-0 victories over Lakeland (25-22, 27-25, 27-25) on Sept. 11 and Lake Region (25-10, 25-14, 25-18) on Sept. 12.

Winter Haven is also slated to host Santa Fe Catholic on Thursday, Sept. 19, as well as Lakeland Christian (Sept. 23) and Auburndale (Sept. 24) next week.

Crutchfield-Hawkins tourney on tap

One of the high school golf season’s most prominent events happens next Monday.

The Crutchfield-Hawkins Invitational is scheduled for Sept. 23, as area boys teams prepare for the annual 18-hole tournament at Sun ‘N Lake Golf Club in Sebring. The girls event will be played the same day in Avon Park.

Bartow High’s Bryce Walker earned individual medalist honors during last season’s Crutchfield-Hawkins event at Sun ‘N Lake’s Turtle Run Course, posting a 1-under 71 en route to a 3-stroke victory. Walker, now is his senior season with the Yellow Jackets, tied for 14th place (Boys 16-18 Division) earlier this month during a Florida Junior Tour stop at Viera East Golf Club in Rockledge.

Lake Highland Prep (Turtle Run) and Windermere Prep (Deer Run Course) are the defending boys team champions at the Crutchfield-Hawkins Invitational, while Archbishop McCarthy took home the 2018 girls team title.

Cross country runners continue to shine

This past Saturday featured various meets that generated several positive area performances.

Frostproof High sophomore Cristal Gomez earned runner-up honors in the Varsity Girls race at the Ridge Community High School Invitational. Gomez clocked a time of 19 minutes, 34.30 seconds and teammate Gabriella Rybinski contributed an eighth-place finish (20:58.20) as Frostproof took seventh in the team standings with 165 points.

Bartow junior Autumn Martin came in 21st place (23:39.40) and Haines City senior Ruby Eller finished 26th (24:16.50). Winter Haven High’s top individual performer was senior Brianna Gilley (34th place, 25:14).

Haines City (5th, 157 points), Winter Haven (7th, 181), Frostproof (12th, 219) and Fort Meade (14th, 433) factored into the 15-team standings in the Ridge Community Varsity Boys competition behind champion Celebration (64).

Haines City was led by a trio including freshman Payson Keown (5th, 17:47.90), junior Arnaldo Vera (8th, 17:54.90) and sophomore Colin Chivers (29th, 19:16.80). Seniors Mario Tullis (18:47.90) and Fred Ross (18:57.30) helped paced Winter Haven by crossing 19th and 22nd, respectively, and freshman Anthony Garcia had a 12th-place time of 18:26.30 to lead Frostproof.

Elsewhere, Lake Region High’s Michael Collins ran sixth overall at the Seffner Christian Invitational’s Elite Boys 5K in Lakeland. Collins clocked a time of 16:50.14.

The Thunder finished 11th (410 points) out of 32 teams in the Open Boys 5K as senior Denario Hanford placed 37th overall (19:37.95) and junior teammate Benjie Toussaint came in 40th (19:45.49).

Lake Region placed 14th (393 points) as a team in the Open Girls 5K. The Thunder were paced in part by senior Karina Sanchez, who crossed 47th overall in 25:05.76.

The St. Cloud Invitational had Auburndale record a pair of 10th-place team finishes. The Bloodhounds totaled 240 points in the Varsity Girls race as Kya Cadieu continued her strong senior season with a fifth-place time of 20:28.78. Freshman teammate Daria Joshway finished 11th in 21:22.73.

Auburndale had 289 points in the Varsity Boys competition to place 10th out of 19 teams. Jamill Vazquez helped lead the Bloodhounds with a 19th-place time of 17:34.45.

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