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The Winter Haven Blue Devils recorded a 6-2 overall start that featured wins last week over All Saints’ Academy and Auburndale.

Winter Haven outlasted All Saints’ Academy in five games on Aug. 29 as the Blue Devils emerged with a 25-21, 15-25, 25-14, 23-25, 15-10 victory. Two days earlier at Auburndale, the Blue Devils posted a 25-16, 25-14, 25-10 win.

Meanwhile, Haines City completed the August portion of its schedule with a 4-2 mark.

The Class 7A Lady Hornets started 4-0 after wins over Auburndale, Tenoroc, Frostproof and Central Florida Athletic Conference member Oasis Christian Academy. The Lady Hornets then fell in four games to host Victory Christian Academy on Aug. 27 and were swept on the road last Thursday by Gateway High.

Bartow High School had a successful start at the 2019 KSA Events Fall Classic. The Orange County Convention Center hosted the three-day tournament (Aug. 29-31) with the Yellow Jackets occupying a spot in the eight-team Stars Bracket alongside South Fork, Miami Beach Senior, Merritt Island, Hernando, University High, Moody High (Ala.) and Cardinal Spellman (N.Y.).

The Stars Bracket, which followed a round-robin format to determine the overall finish, had the Yellow Jackets go 3-0 last Thursday with wins over Hernando (25-20, 25-19), South Fork (24-26, 25-22, 16-14) and the University High Cougars (25-17, 16-25, 15-9).

Senior co-captain Gabi Schaal combined for 37 kills in the Yellow Jackets’ opening three tournament matches. Her effort was punctuated by 15 kills against University High.

Bartow was set to face Moody and Miami Beach on Friday and Cardinal Spellman and Merritt Island on Saturday, but results were unavailable at press time.

The Yellow Jackets entered the KSA Classic in search of their first victory this season. The August schedule previously included a four-game setback to Lake Gibson on Aug. 27, and a closely contested home match against Winter Haven (22-25, 24-26, 23-25) on Aug. 22.

Cross country meet looms

High school cross country comes to the forefront this weekend with the George Whitmire Classic – hopefully.

Lake Region High is slated to host the annual race on Saturday, Sept. 7, but upcoming high school athletic events may be impacted in the potential aftermath of Hurricane Dorian, which as of press time was forecasted to hit somewhere along Florida’s East Coast on or around Labor Day.

Should the Whitmire Classic proceed as planned, it will begin at 8 a.m. with the varsity girls race. The varsity boys (8:30 a.m.), junior varsity girls (9 a.m.) and junior varsity boys (9:30 a.m.) follow at the school’s on-campus course, which also represents the site of the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 3A District 4 meet on Oct. 26 and the Class 3A Region 2 competition on Nov. 2.

Varsity and JV team awards (top two girls and boys finishers) and individual medals (top 20 boys and girls) will be handed out after the conclusion of the final race. The current list of schools scheduled to attend includes the host Thunder, Lake Wales (defending varsity boys champion), Winter Haven, Auburndale, Bartow, Frostproof, Fort Meade, Haines City, All Saints’ Academy, Discovery High, Winter Haven Christian and Oasis Christian Academy.

The Lake Wales varsity boys team finished third out of 44 schools at the 11th annual Jim Ryun Invitational, which was held Aug. 24 at Holloway Park in Lakeland. Mac Updike not only paced the Highlanders to a 154-point total, but the aforementioned junior’s time of 16 minutes, 38.8 seconds secured him medalist honors. Senior teammate Anderson Denton crossed 10th overall in 17:27.80 and junior Ladarius Tellis was 16th in 17:52.70.

Lake Region junior Michael Collins placed fifth overall at the Jim Ryun Invitational with a time of 17:10.80, while senior Jamill Vazquez emerged as Auburndale’s top finisher with a 31st-place showing (18:28.40).

Auburndale’s varsity girls team was 14th in a 26-school field as senior Kya Cadieu (21:07, 14th place) and freshman Daria Joshway (21:56.20, 25th place) finished among the top 25 individuals.

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