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Commentary: Wildcats cheering to nationals

Kudos are in order for the Manatee Wildcats. Last week, we announced the East Manatee Bulldogs were sending their cheerleading squad to the National Pop Warner Cheer & Dance Competition in Orlando.

The Wildcats are doing just the same.

They have two teams competing this week at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex after taking first place in the Pee Wee (large/intermediate) and Midget (large/intermediate) divisions at the Southeast Pop Warner Regional Championships over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Pee Wee squad competes today, and the Midget team performs Friday.

“This year, we are celebrating 25 years since the Manatee Wildcats became an organization,” cheer coordinator Julie Kollath said. “This is a first in the history of the Wildcats that any of our cheer squads have advanced on to the Pop Warner National Championships.”

More national qualifiers

Another group of athletes also qualified for a national event at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

The Tabernacle Christian Middle School girls cross-country team competed Saturday at the 2011 AAU Cross-Country National Championships.

Taylor Augustyniak, Jordan Augustyniak, Emily Weil, Alexis Beuge and Lauren Cash round out the Tabernacle team.

This past season, Tabernacle were champions at the 2011 Florida Gulf Coast Athletic League -- where it hasn’t lost a meet in three years -- according to a news release. Other awards include: Little Everglades Pre-State Invitational runner-up for middle schools and 11th place in the Florida Middle School State Championships.

At the national meet, Beuge placed sixth in the 4K youth event. Cash grabbed 14th in the 4K sub-youth event.

Jordan Augustyniak edged out Taylor in the 3K midget event, where both finished second and third, respectively.

Weil finished 83rd in the same event.

“I am extremely proud of these young women for all their hard work throughout the year,” said coach Matt Augustyniak in a news release last week. “This is the future of cross country in the area.”

Golden Manatees surging

The Manatee County Hockey Club’s Golden Manatees followed up their rivalry game victory over Sarasota without a letdown.

Against Tampa Wharton at the Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex this past Friday, the Golden Manatees blasted the visitors 11-3 to keep pace with Lightning Conference Central Division-leading Freedom.

Manatee is just two points back for the top spot in the division, and has outscored all teams within its division this season.

On Friday, Manatee (7-3-0) used a strong first period where the Golden Manatees netted six goals to cruise to victory.

Raven Woodring notched a hat trick, while Paul Lochner, Zack Cantrell and Luke Bafia scored two goals apiece. Dylan Longo and Philip Atkinson rounded out the scoring for Manatee.

Jason Dill, sports reporter, can be reached at 745-7017 or via email at