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Commentary | Golden Manatees heat up ice

The playoff push is here for the Manatee County Hockey Club’s Golden Manatees. The high school team currently sits comfortably in second place in the Lightning Conference’s Central Division.

The top four seeds in both Central and Western divisions advance to the playoffs, beginning Feb. 13.

Manatee’s playoff opener is scheduled for Feb. 15 in Ellenton, should the Golden Manatees lock up a berth.

Manatee has 25 points, three shy of the division-leading Freedom. The Golden Manatees haven’t lost since Dec. 9, reeling off an impressive six match unbeaten streak where they’ve outscored the opposition 40-14.

There are just two regular season contests left, and the Golden Manatees are six points clear of rival Sarasota for the final playoff spot.

Manatee’s home finale is Wednesday, Feb. 8 against Seminole. The Golden Manatees conclude regular season play on Feb. 10 against Steinbrenner.

New prep lacrosse team

Manatee High is the latest to join the lacrosse ranks, with more than 20 players ready for the inaugural season. Practices started last week, and the first game is set for this Saturday in a scrimmage against Pine View’s junior varsity team.

Practices are scheduled for Monday, Tuesday and Thursdays most weeks. There are several away games slated, before Manatee hosts its first-ever home lacrosse match on March 4 against Clearwater’s junior varsity squad.

For more information about the team and volunteer information, contact Ron Stephens at

Several other programs have lacrosse teams in the area, including Saint Stephen’s, Cardinal Mooney, Lakewood Ranch, IMG Academies and Sarasota Military Academy to name a few.

Prep runners zip by field

High school cross country runners ruled the overall titles in the female and male divisions at the recent Dolphin Dash 5K & 1-Mile in Holmes Beach, where 185 runners finished.

Lakewood Ranch High superstar Olivia Ortiz ran a blazing 17:25 for an almost five minute victory over the field.

Meanwhile, Bayshore High standout Canaan Meester-Kitterman churned out the lowest time in either division at 16:46.

Other female winners include: Dominique Kohlenberger (Masters, 23:10), Lynda Botzenhart (Grand Masters, 24:51), Arlene Jarzab (Senior Grand Masters, 25:17) and Erma McMullen (Veteran Grand Master, 33:55).

Other male winners include: Mark Doyle (Masters, 20:12), Rob Hetterich (Grand Masters, 20:56), Frank Davis (Senior Grand Masters, 22:34) and Tom Conlin (Veteran Grand Masters, 25:51).

Senior Games returning

The 23rd annual Gulf Coast Senior Games are scheduled for late February for ages 50-and-older. The event runs Feb. 21-26, with a $12 registration fee and $3 entry fee for each event, race or activity.

There are 17 events to choose from. Contact the G.T. Bray Recreation Center at 742-5923 for more information.

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