Six Sunshine State Games Sports Fill the Palm Beach County Convention Center
WEST PALM BEACH – With six sports in action and over 1,200 athletes participating , the Palm Beach County Convention Center was transformed in an amateur sports mecca on Saturday for the Sunshine State Games Palm Beach County Festival. A seventh sport of the Festival, BMX Racing was held at Okeeheelee Park.
Stretched across one portion of the Exhibit Hall floor was Judo, Weightlifting and Karate, while on the other side of a divider, Wrestling and Taekwondo were being contested. In an upstairs ballroom, fencers thrusted and parried in foil events.
Jordan Griffith, an 18-year old fencer from of the Naples Fencing Club, won the gold medal in the Men’s Foil Division in a rematch from the 2014 Sunshine State Games in Gainesville. Griffith defeated Justin Hermann, of the Master’s Fencing Academy in Miami, 15-4, in the championship final. At the 2014 Games, it was Hermann who won the final over Griffith.
“We’ve fenced against each other quite a bit in the last few years at tournaments in Miami, Tampa and Orlando and I’ve kind of figured him out,” said Griffith. “I’m also a little bit bigger than him giving me a size advantage.”
Griffith, who recently graduated from Gulf Coast High School in Naples, will attend the Air Force Academy in the fall and was recruited as a fencing athlete for the Division I program.
In the inaugural year of the SSG Weightlifting Robert L. Murphy Memorial Meet, Jeremy Jackson, of Orlando, won the Robert Murphy Spirit of the Games Award and Most Outstanding Male Lifter Award.
Besides winning the gold medal for his successful lifts, Jackson earned the Spirit of the Games Award for his determination after an unsuccessful snatch lift.
“After Jeremy missed a snatch attempt of 118kg, normally lifters have two minutes to gather themselves before another attempt,” said SSG Weightlifting Sport Director Richard Lansky, and Robert Murphy’s coach for Team Florida Weightlifiting. “But after about 10 seconds and before he walked behind the curtain, he turned right around and completed the successful lift.”
Cherisse Taylor, out of Sarasota, earned the Most Outstanding Female Lifter Award after her 84 kg snatch, which was the overall best of the women’s competition.
The Men’s Team Trophy was won by Team Florid a Jacksonville winning four three gold and a silver medal. Among the gold medals for Team Florida Jacksonville was a combined lift of 295kg by Tyler Reagan, a former NC State offensive lineman and 2020 or 2024 Olympic hopeful. The Women’s Team Trophy went to Team Florida Gulf Coast.
19-year old Alejandro Menendez from Miami, was named the Outstanding Senior Male Judoka after winning four matches en route to the gold medal in the Men’s Shiai Advanced division, 60.1kg-66kg weight class.
He is coached by his father, Ricardo Menendez, head instructor of the Falcon Judo Club and President of Florida Judo. Beyond SSG, Menendez has competed in two Pan American Judo Championships and the Jr. World Judo Championships. Menendez recently graduated from South Miami Senior High School and has been invited to compete in Japan.
Ella Valenti, of Riverview, won the Outstanding Junior Female Judoka, earning a gold medal in the 9-10 Year Old Female Advanced Division, 34.1-38kg weight class. Valenti also won a gold medal at the 2015 Games.
The 2015 Sunshine State Games Male Athlete of the Year Award was presented to Jaden Villalobos, a 12-year old member of the Calvary Wrestling Club in Fort Lauderdale. Villalobos earned a medal in his third consecutive SSG Wrestling competition taking silver medals in the Middle Folkstyle and Freestyle, 84 kg Class.
The Gladiator Wrestling Team won the SSG Team Award accumulating four gold medals and three silver medals in Folkstyle competition. Guillermo Jaramillo won four gold medals for the Gladiator Club earning two in different Folkstyle weight classes and one in Freestyle and Greco Roman competition.
It was a Taekwondo family affair for Tampa’s Steve Quillian and his three sons, 10-year old Kaeden, eight-year old Korban and four-year old Kolten as they combined for a total of 18 medals in the sparring, forms, breaking and weapons divisions.
Kaeden and Korban have been competing since the age of four and Kolten made his entry into the sport today at the Palm Beach County Convention Center. Besides spending the day as an official and supporting his sons in their matches, Steve won a pair of poomse (forms) medal and will compete in sparring events Sunday.
BMX Cycling racers ranging from Novice to Expert Class were on the track at Okeeheelee Park with all riders running a total of three races. Rocco Pesaturo, of Royal Palm Beach, won the gold medal in the 10 year old Expert Class and Jacob Jones, of West Palm Beach, won the 14 Year old Expert gold medal. To advance through the Novice and Intermediate Classifications riders must win a total of 30 races to reach the expert level.
In the Karate competition, Adrian Llamo, of Naples, won a pair of gold medal in both the 8-9 Year Old Novice Kata and Kumite events. It was the second consecutive year Llamo has won both events in the 8-9 year old age group. He won the Beginners Division in 2015.
The Palm Beach County Festival continues Sunday with competition in Fencing and Taekwondo while the Table Tennis Championships continue in Lakeland and Track and Field Championships run at Lake Minneola High School with the Open and Masters Divisions.
The SSG Water Polo Championships will be held at the Coral Springs Aquatic Center next weekend with a record 70 teams competing. The SSG Badminton Championships will be played at ClearOne in Orlando.
For results of the 37th Annual Sunshine State Games, visit www.sunshinestategames.com and click the “Results,” link for full results of each of the 28 sports of the Games as they progress over the next few weeks. The Sunshine State Games are presented annually by the Florida Sports Foundation, the state’s lead sports promotion and development organization.
Information about the upcoming Sunshine State Games competitions throughout the month of June is available at http://www.flasports.com/2016/06/02/2016-sunshine-state-games-press-kit/ in a pdf document that is updated weekly.