Herald All-Area | Players of the year, honorable mention for tennis, track, weightlifting

June 29, 2012 

BOYS WEIGHTLIFTING

Nathan Kirkman, senior, Braden River

By the numbers: Competing in the 199-pound class at the Class 2A state meet, Kirkman delivered a stirring performance that netted him the highest finish among all Manatee County lifters in any weight class. Kirkman snagged second place at the FHSAA finals in Kissimmee.

Weighing in at 195.6 pounds, Kirkman lifted more than three times his body weight with a cumulative total of 660 pounds between the bench press and clean and jerk.

Fast facts: Plans to play football at Brevard (N.C.) College, an NCAA Division II school, and major in exercise science.

Honorable mention

Braden River -- Tyler Pittman, 154 pounds; Tyler Linde, 183; Michael Pulawski, heavyweight.

Cardinal Mooney -- Cole Curtis, 139; Anthony Caiazzo, 154; Nick Seed, heavyweight.

Manatee -- Taren Cotton, 139; Hershel Caywood, 219.

Southeast -- Thomas Wilkinson, 169; Gage Takacs, 183.

GIRLS TRACK AND FIELD

Olivia Ortiz, junior, Lakewood Ranch

By the numbers: Ortiz won region and district titles in the 1,600- and 3,200-meter runs and ran on the 3,200 relay team that won a state championship and broke the school record with a time of 9 minutes, 14.15 seconds. She finished second at state in the 1,600 run and was competing in the 3,200 run when she suffered a broken femur. Her best times were 4:53.7 in the 1,600 run at the University of Florida Invitational and 10:40.6 in the 3,200 meter at FSU Invite.

Fast facts: Heavily involved in school activities, Ortiz is a member of the National Honor Society, student government, school yearbook club, school junior advisory board, Quill and Scroll and school blood drive committee to name a few. Her father was a football and hockey standout in high school in the New York area and was with the NYPD during 9/11. She loves track because she says you get out of it what you put into it and she enjoys pushing herself to the limits. Her most memorable moment last season was helping the 3,200 relay team win the state title.

What's next: Ortiz hopes to earn an athletic or academic scholarship to college after next year and has gotten serious interest from Florida and the University of Virginia, but also is considering FSU. She wants to major in psychology.

Honorable mention

Bayshore -- Ebony Moore.

Braden River -- Bridget Lanier.

Cardinal Mooney -- Grace Casagrande.

Lakewood Ranch -- Kristin Zarella, Devin McDermott, Natalie Novak.

Manatee -- Deja Rodgers, Teirra Wetherell.

Palmetto -- Dasha Grooms, Charlene Grooms, Cristina Atkinson.

Saint Stephen's -- Hannah Howell.

BOYS TRACK AND FIELD

Brandon Carnes, junior, Manatee

By the numbers: Carnes won region and district championships in the 100 and 200 dashes and as a member of the Hurricanes' 400 relay team. His personal-best times were 10.55 seconds in the 100 at his district meet and 21.37 seconds in the 200 at the state meet. Carnes finished fourth in the 4A state meet in the 100, 7th in the 200 and 8th in the 400 relay.

Fast facts: Carnes enjoys both sprints, but right now prefers the 100. He said his most memorable moment was running anchor on the Hurricanes' highly-touted 400 relay team. He is the younger brother of former Manatee standout quarterback Brion Carnes, who is now at Nebraska. Brandon used to play football, but wants to focus on track. His favorite car is a red Lamborghini, which perhaps fits his speed merchant persona. Likes hot wings and says his favorite movies are "Twister" and "Money Talks."

What's next: Carnes wants to run in college and hopes to earn a scholarship to a high level school noted for track, which he said is possible, particularly if he can improve his 100 time. He also is eyeing the Olympics down the road.

Honorable mention

Bayshore -- Canaan Meester-Kitterman.

Cardinal Mooney -- Joe Boyette.

Manatee -- Derrick Calloway, Roshoir Elliott, Kelvin Carter.

Out-Of-Door Academy -- Brian Ragone.

Palmetto -- Luke Lester, Elijah Burston.

Southeast -- Kevin Williams.

GIRLS TENNIS

Marie Babayan, junior, Braden River

By the numbers: Babayan ran through the competition with an undefeated regular season that included a district championship. She beat rival Cari Berry of Lakewood Ranch in straight sets for the district crown.

That enabled Babayan, whose older brother, Shagen, was a former No. 1 player for the Pirates' boys team, to book her second state tournament appearance under head coach Abby Toole.

Babayan was seeded No. 2 in the individual singles portion of the Class 3A state tourney and advanced to the semifinals before being falling in three sets.

In the latest United State Tennis Association combined rankings for girls 18-and-younger, Babayan is ranked No. 26, the highest among local high school players.

Fast facts: Babayan will look to return to the state tournament next year as a senior and seek a college scholarship.

HONORABLE MENTION

Lakewood Ranch -- Cari Berry, Ashley Bongart, Veronica Sampalik, Samantha Aiezza, Hannah Kneeland.

Out-of-Door Academy -- Maria Ross, M'Balia Bangoura, Cheyene Kerekes, Savannah Sleight, Morgan Woods.

Saint Stephen's -- Jennifer Sundstrom, Nicole Johnston, Hailey Nicklin, Annie Brey, Richelle Leuchter.

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