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First Alachua County school to receive the honor

W -  Carswell - Hawthorne Middle High School award 02Hawthorne Middle High School athletic director Bobby Hill and principal Veita Carter hold the Lee Scruggs Memorial All Sports Outstanding Sportsmanship Award. It is the first school in Alachua County to receive the award.

HAWTHORNE – The Mid-Florida Officials’ Association awarded Hawthorne Middle High School with the Lee Scruggs Memorial All Sports Outstanding Sportsmanship Award for the 2012-2013 school year.

The award, established in 2005, recognizes the school administration, coaches, athletes and fans for outstanding sportsmanship and contribution to interscholastic sports and game administration.

Al Summers, president of the association, said they regulate about 70 schools from counties across the state and Hawthorne Middle High School was the first school in Alachua County to receive the award at a banquet earlier this month.

The schools are required to follow Florida High School Athletic Association guidelines, such as greeting officials upon their arrival and providing them with private parking and a secure dressing facility. Hawthorne Middle High School surpassed those expectations.

“We recognize schools who go above and beyond those things, and there are very few schools who go above and beyond,” Summers said. “We’re very proud of them.”

Summers recalled the first few times he visited the school many years ago.

“The conditions were not conducive,” he said. “Now when you go there, you can actually dress in a fresh, clean environment. We pride ourselves on going there.”

He said the fairly new principal and athletic director were instrumental in improving the school’s program.

“It’s been a 360 turnaround from what we’ve been used to,” Summers said.

Athletic director Bobby Hill said he felt “complete jubilation” upon receiving the award.

“In our facilities, everything is treated as first class,” he said.

He said they did all of the hospitality they were supposed to do and made sure the officials felt comfortable.

“Even fans from opposing teams feel like they’re appreciated,” he said. “This award says we’re headed in the right direction.”

With a small athletic program of about 80 students, Hill said it was a challenge, but he said the coaches did a great job of implementing discipline.

“I give the students a lot of credit,” he said. “They don’t get a lot of time to rest.”

Hawthorne Middle High School principal Veita Carter said it was a big deal being honored for sportsmanship in all sports, considering the school’s size.

We didn’t have a winning season in football, but the kids still persevered and stayed positive, and that’s what this award is all about.”

The school was given a large plaque to keep for a year. It’s engraved with the names of each Lee Scruggs’ winner.

It hangs next to a smaller plaque on a wall in the school’s office-- a constant reminder of the school’s accomplishment.

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GAINESVILLE – Santa Fe sophomore pitcher/first baseman Karla Claudio was recently honored by the Florida College Activities Association and the Mid-Florida Conference for her stellar play during her sophomore campaign.

The FCSAA coaches voted her First Team All-State and the Pitcher of the Year for her efforts in the circle.  In 2013 Claudio has piled up 203 strikeouts and 316 for her career, putting her in third place behind Colena Lazar (597) and SF Athletics Hall of Famer Rachel Foster (423).  Her 26 wins have her tied for 12th in Santa Fe history.

In addition to the state awards, the MFC named her to the All-Conference First Team and the Pitcher of the Year. 

Claudio not only does her damage in the circle, but also with her bat. On April 18 against Daytona State College, she hit two homeruns, giving her 23 for her career, eclipsing Gia Tomossone’s 22 to set a new school record.  In addition to the homerun record, she has the new base on balls record.  Through April 18 Claudio has 62 career walks, putting her 5 ahead of Erika Garcia’s 57, set in 2008-09.

She is currently 14th in career hits (118), tied for 9th in doubles (22), 15th in runs scored (72), and 5th in career batting average (.423).

“Karla is an extremely talented softball player,” said SF Coach Chris Ahern.  “She is strong as an athlete, and has a mental toughness to match.  She was already a top notch corner infielder and she has grown tremendously as a pitcher, having great outings all season.  Her bat is among the best we’ve had the pleasure to have here at SF.  We are proud of her accomplishments and look forward to more of the same when she joins the University of South Florida Bulls next year.  I think it probably goes without saying, but we are going to miss Karla a lot!”

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SFHS vs BHS BasketballSanta Fe HIgh School boys basketball defeated Bradford HIgh School 59-54 Friday night in Raider Gym.

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Saints pull off 67-61 upset of #1 Central Florida; Chris Mowry wins 200th game

GAINESVILLE – Bobby Hunter scored 28 points and Takija Knight came up big in the second half Saturday afternoon to lead the Santa Fe Saints (16-12, 4-3 MFC) to a 67-61 upset of the FCSAA #1/NJCAA #5 Central Florida Patriots (25-3, 6-1 MFC).  The win was the 200th of SF Head Coach Chris Mowry’s 10 year career at Santa Fe.  The loss snapped CF’s 18 game winning streak, the second longest in the country this year.

“Getting 200 wins is a real testament to the assistant coaches and players I’ve had over the last ten years,” said Mowry.  “You win because you have good players.  Our success is a reflection of the talented athletes I’ve had the privilege of coaching here at Santa Fe.  I hope to keep it going for many more years.”

The Saints held the nation’s seventh highest scoring team to 30 points below their average and just 38% shooting.  Santa Fe outscored the Patriots 23-13 at the free throw line and held a team averaging six three pointers a game to just three.

“This is an exciting win for our players,” said Mowry.  “I’m very proud of the effort today.  CF is an extremely talented team that can beat anyone in the country on any given night.  We played physical and were able to get them off balance just enough.”

Central Florida got off to a hot start and led 10-3 five minutes into the game.  Just when it looked like the Patriots may run away with it, the Saints settled in and ended the first half on a 10-4 run to take a 35-29 lead at the break.

“Our press was very effective for us today,” said Mowry.  “Even when Central Florida broke it, they were taking some quick shots and were turning it over much more than they usually do.”

Santa Fe led for the first nine minutes of the second half but a 6-0 run capped by a Rodell Wigginton dunk tied the game at 46-46 with 11:13 to play. Four straight points by Bobby Hunter gave the Saints a 50-46 lead but five minutes later the Patriots again tied the score at 56-56 after a 10-6 run.

Takija Knight came up huge for the Saints making two tough layups on back to back possessions to move SF ahead 62-58, a lead they would not relinquish.  Chad Milliken, Bobby Hunter and Roody Saint-Germain combined for four free throws down the stretch and the Santa Fe defense made some key stops to seal the victory against the state’s #1 team.

“Defensively CF tried to take Bobby out of the game,” said Mowry.  “We were patient and didn’t rush it, made them guard us and took good shots.  All year we’ve been good at getting to the free throw line and tonight was no exception.”

Hunter led all scorers with his 28 points, 14 of which came at the free throw line.  Knight had 11 points (nine in the second half) and seven rebounds and Deonte Moore had 10 points.  The Patriots had just one player in double figures with Eugene McCrory’s 15 point, 11 rebound effort.

“Takija did a really nice job at both ends of the floor tonight and came up with some big baskets when we needed them,” said Mowry.  “Every one of our guys that played tonight did something positive to contribute to this win.  It was a true team effort in every essense.  Hopefully we can build off this win and use the momentum to finish up strong as we head in to the Mid-Florida Conference tournament.”

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W - Newberry Cheerleaders 002 copyORANGE PARK – The 2012-2013 Newberry High School (NHS) competition cheerleaders now have their first competition of the new season under their belts.

On Dec. 15, the team traveled to Ridgeview High School to participate in the Winter Challenge cheer tournament. With football season going long due to a successful run in the play-offs and basketball and soccer seasons starting, NHS cheer was a little behind in getting their routine choreographed as it is all done by the coaches with input from the team.

It was Dec. 14 before they were able to run through their routine all the way and with music. And seven of the 18 first string squad members are new to the competition mat. While it could be expected that the cheerleaders were a little nervous about what Saturday would bring, the team realized their biggest competition was themselves. They decided they wouldn’t worry about anyone but themselves, do their personal best and use this competition as a jumping off point for the season.

The routine wasn’t perfect, but that was okay as they did much better than they expected. The rookies got to experience the mat and work their jitters out, and the team came home with a third place finish.

The squad will compete next in three weeks at the FHSAA Regionals on Jan. 5.

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