The second of three Sunshine State Games Olympic-style Sports Festivals takes place in the Sarasota-Bradenton area this weekend with seven sports and over 1,500 athletes in action

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SSG Sarasota-Bradenton Festival Preview and SSG Boxing Review

SARASOTA – The second of three Sunshine State Games Olympic-style Sports Festivals takes place in the Sarasota-Bradenton area this weekend with seven sports and over 1,500 athletes in action.  Also in action is the Sunshine State Games Swimming Championships at the Dwight Hunter Northeast Pool in Gainesville.

Swimming begins on Friday afternoon and continues through Sunday with 120 events for athletes from age 6 through 20.

The Sarasota-Bradenton Festival begins Saturday morning with all seven sports competing.  Competition continues with five sports on Sunday and Synchronized Swimming runs through Monday.  There has been a change in the Racquetball venue for the weekend and competition will now be held at the Sarasota Bath and Racquet Club with matches beginning at 9:00 a.m.

On-site registration is still available for Archery, Canoe/Kayak Sprints and Disc Golf. For more information about Florida’s Sunshine State Games, please visit

Sarasota-Bradenton Festival Competition Schedule, Registration Update and Storylines


June 6-7, 2015 – Sarasota County Archers (Field and 3D) and Premier Sports Campus (FITA and 900)

On-site registration available. Only cash, checks and money orders will be accepted for on-site registration.



June 6-7, 2015 – Nathan Benderson Park, Sprints and Fort Hamer Park, Marathon

On-site registration entry fee is $35 and is only available for Sprints.


Disc Golf

June 6, 2015 – Lakeview Park

On-site registration is available.



June 6-7, 2015 – NOTE: VENUE CHANGE!  NEW VENUE IS SARASOTA BATH & RACQUET, 2170 Robinhood Street, Sarasota, Florida 34231

Registration closed



June 6, 2015 – Nathan Benderson Park

Registration closed



June 5-7 – Dwight Hunter Northeast Pool, Gainesville

Registration Closed


Synchronized Swimming

June 6-8, 2015 – Selby Aquatic Complex

Registration closed



June 6-7, 2015 – Premier Sports Campus

Registration closed

A decade of SSG Ultimate
For the second consecutive year, Sunshine State Games Ultimate features two divisions, a mixed and open division.  Celebrating the sport’s 10th year in the Games, the annual tournament is now up to 24 teams, with 12 playing in each division.

Competition begins on 12 fields, at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, at the Premier Sports Complex and concludes with the final game of pool play with a 4:30 start time.

The tournament has doubled in size from the 12 teams that played in the 2006 Sunshine State Games in Miami.  The idea of playing Ultimate in Florida’s Olympic-style Sports Festival began with a participant’s t-shirt.

In 2005, when the Games were in Broward County, my roommate came home from an SSG paddling event and was wearing an SSG shirt,” recalls Sport Director, Kristin Deffler. “I immediately asked if Ultimate was in the Games. After a “no,” answer, I immediately began to research the Games and when I found out what SSG was about, I knew it would be a good fit for Ultimate and vice versa.”

Once the trophies are presented for the Champions in the Mixed and Open Divisions, the annual Ultimate Layout competition begins.  To end the day, athletes devise creative ways to catch discs thrown across a tarp lathered with water and dish soap.

Florida has plenty of pockets of Synchro Statewide
A mainstay of the Sunshine State Games, synchronized swimmers will once again pack the Selby Aquatic Center from Saturday through Monday with 240 athletes registered.  The synchronized swimming registration database features participants from 44 Florida cities.

Tampa leads way with 45 swimmers registered followed by Lakeland with 20 and Largo with 19.  Each day has a different level of swimmers beginning with Novice on Saturday, Intermediate on Sunday and Age Group, Olympic and Open divisions on Monday.  Teams compile points based on individual finishes and the team in each division with the most points received the Mary Rose High Point Trophy, named after former Synchronized Swimming Sport Director and coach of the Orlando Loreleis, Mary Rose.

The Lakeland YMCA Flamingo synchronized swimming team has qualified to compete in the 2015 U.S. Jr. Olympic Nationals at the Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, NC, July 27-July 4.  Flamingos from the 12-and-under team, the 12-and-under duet and the 18-19 team placed in the top three at the Florida West Regional Championships to qualify.

Archery is a true Lifetime Sport
A lot of sports like to call themselves “a sport for a lifetime,” but no other like Sunshine State Games Archery can back it up.  Among the more than athletes 130 athlete registered are those as young as seven years old through an 82-year old archer competing on Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7.

On the youthful side, there’s seven year old Alexis Hull, of Valrico, and eight year old Geneva Pobjoy, from Sarasota.  On the more experienced side, 80-year old Sarasota archer, Roy Bowen, is registered along with 82- year old, Jack Cason, from St. Petersburg.

Cason, who has been competing in the Sunshine State Games since 2003, has been collecting gold medals since before 11 current archery athletes were born.

Besides eight year old Geneva Pobjoy’s archery talents, she was active during the 2014-15 Bay Haven Elementary School year, earning a first place medal at the 2014-15 Science Fair.  Her Physical Science, “Talking to Crystals,” project earned her the opportunity to represent the school at the Sarasota County Regional Science Fair.

When John Edwards speaks about Canoe/Kayak, people listen…..
Besides being involved in the Sunshine State Games as the Canoe/Kayak Sport Director for 27 years, John Edwards, of St. Petersburg, has raced all over the U.S. and the world since he first got in the water in 1972.

When he gives the following compliment to the 2015 Canoe/Kayak Marathon Course a favorable review such as this one, local organizers should take note.

“What a great marathon course we have found for the Sunshine State Games,” Edwards posted on his Facebook page.  “Fort Hamer Park is a hidden jewel. Please make an effort to do the race. We are going upstream to a bridge and then back. The long distance course will be just short of 12 m and the short course will be 6 miles.”

A 1988 Orlando Sentinel article, about a race on Lake Ivanhoe, proclaimed Edwards, the state’s top canoeist.  It also recognized him as the winner of three consecutive national championships in marathon racing in the high kneel boat, and a fourth place finisher in the 1987 world championships in Ireland.

The numbers surrounding Rowing as a whole and for a local individual
Boats with rowers from Pensacola to Miami will be competing in SSG Rowing at Benderson Park on Saturday, June 6 as 27 clubs and 278 athletes have registered to compete in the 53 events that begin at 9:00 a.m.

The Veteran Men’s 1X (50+) race will have 21 participants.  It is the second event of the day.  The Mixed Open/Masters 2X event features 20 teams meaning 40 men and women will be rowing together.

Competing in both the Mixed Open/Masters 4X and 8X teams is Marcel Griffoen, of the Sarasota Scullers.  Besides his rowing prowess, which has garnered several SSG medals in recent years, Griffoen showed his academic skills this year at Pine View School in Sarasota.

As a member of Team Jukeboxes he competed in the Moody’s Mega Math Challenge, where Team Jukeboxes produced a 19-page paper in 14 hours to make it through triage, meaning they were in the top 201 teams nationwide out of 1128 teams.

Team Jukeboxes won Honorable Mention, top 5%, which came with $1000 scholarship money to be split among team members.

Moody’s Mega Math Challenge is a mathematical modeling contest for high school students sponsored by The Moody’s Foundation and organized by SIAM. The M3 Challenge spotlights applied mathematics as a powerful problem-solving tool, a viable and exciting profession, and as a vital contributor to advances in an increasingly technical society. The contest introduces high school students to applied mathematics by giving them an opportunity to work in teams to tackle a real-world problem under time and resource constraints akin to those faced by industrial applied mathematicians.

Makes rowing sound easy, doesn’t it?

Swimming Championships in Gainesville
Besides the seven sports of the Sarasota-Bradenton Festival, swimmers will be in competing in 120 events at Gainesville’s Dwight Hunter Northeast Pool  from Friday through Sunday.  Over 450 swimmers between the age of 6 and 20 will be representing 12 teams.

For the past four years, the Sunshine State Games swim meet is a battle between Gainesville’s Gator Swim Club and the Area Tallahassee Aquatic Club (ATAC) and 2015 is no different.  ATAC won the team trophy in 2011 and 2012 while the Gator Swim Club earned the honors in 2013 and 2014.

This year, the Gator Swim Club will have 109 total athletes while ATAC has 65.  The Central Florida Swim Club from Ocala falls in between the two with 78 swimmers.

The top male and female swimmers from the Tallahassee and Gainesville areas are also in action at the 2015 Sunshine State Games.  The Gainesville Sun Swimmers of the Year, Hannah Burns, of the Gator Swim Club and Columbia County High School, and Seth Borgert of Gainesville High School represent the home turf.  The visitors from Florida’s Capital City will be represented by the Tallahassee Democrat’s Swimmers of the Year, Makayla Ayers and Charlie Gallagher, both of Lawton Chiles High School.

Burns is a long-time Sunshine State Games swimmer and has been named the Gainesville Sun Swimmer of the Year in each of her four years of high school.  She will continue her swimming career at the University of Florida beginning in the fall.

Boxers hit the ring in Fort Lauderdale

Over 150 boxers turned out at Fort Lauderdale’s Carter Park Gymnasium for the return of Sunshine State Games Boxing as both Men and women competed in nine divisions from Pee Wee to Elite.

Athletes boxed in two rings over two days and RMBA (Región Metropolitana de Boxeo), from Puerto Rico led all clubs with six wins in four divisions and Palm Beach Boxing had five winners.  Bruce Laster and Zacharie Deller, of BOCA PAL had two wins each in the Novice 152 lb Division.

Vladimir Liceaga defeats Marcos Quintero

Eric Tudor defeated Frank Diaz

Among the boxers scoring a victory in the Youth 132 lb division, was 17-year old Benjamin Orozco, of the Fort Myers Police Boxing Academy.  His summer plans include competing in the Pathway to the Podium Olympic Trials Qualifier in Colorado Springs, June 20-27.  The top two finishers in the tournament will qualify for a spot in the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Although he was had over 50 fights and won 16 state titles, he enters the tournament as one of the youngest boxers, and will be fighting against boxers as old as 39 years old.

For more information about Florida’s Sunshine State Games, please visit

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