CLEARWATER BEACH, Fla. – The Fourth Annual Sunshine State Games (SSG) International Beach Games turned the white sand of Clearwater Beach at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort into an athletic playground Saturday with nearly 300 athletes competing in five sports.
The five sports featured the endurance of athletes making their way through Beach Tennis pool and bracket play. Ultra-Weight Pentathlon athletes and Powerlifters displayed their strength, heaving weighted balls between eight and 300 pounds and deadlifting as much as 760 pounds. The accuracy needed by Cornhole players to throw a bag 27 feet through a six-inch hole and Ultimate athletes throwing a Frisbee as far as 150 feet to an open teammate for a score, was also on display.
Throwing Heavy Stuff
The day began with the Under 20 Florida Weight Throw Championship. Three-year veteran of the SSG Beach Games, Madi Malone, of Fort Lauderdale had longest throw of all athletes heaving a 20-pound ball 16.5 meters (54 feet). Malone, who is a member of the Auburn University track and field team, had not competed since the 2017 SSG Beach Games after breaking her wrist practicing the hammer throw for the Winter Indoor Track and Field season at Auburn.
“While I was practicing last December, the handle on the hammer broke, and I fell and broke my wrist,” Malone said. “I haven’t been able to pick up a weight since last December.”
In the USATF World Ultra-Weight Championships, where athletes threw weights ranging from eight to 300 pounds, a pair of 66-year olds compiled the high scores. Mike Matteson, of Delavan, Wis., totaled 4,338 points and was one of only two athletes to top 4,000 points. Robert Arello, of Sarasota, tallied 4,111 points. Among the women’s throwers, Dr. Agnes Green, of Bellaire, compiled 3,945 points, edging out Stacey Snow, of St. Petersburg, by one point for the high score.
Lifting Bar Bending Amounts of Weight
The highlight of the Beach Powerlifting competition came when Jen Rotsinger, at 5 foot, 2 inches and weighing 119 pounds, stepped to the bar and deadlifted 418 pounds to set a U.S. Powerlifting Association National Masters record.
“She lifted nearly four times her body weight, which is insane.” said SSG Powerlifting sport director Richard Ficca.
For her efforts, Rotsinger, of St. Petersburg, was awarded the Best Female Lifter of the competition. Trevor Jaffe, of Clearwater, also set a national record in his age group and weight class. Ray Brox was crowned the Best Male Lifter as the 45-year old recorded a deadlift of 567 pounds.
Charlie Nelson, who celebrates his 65th birthday Sunday, a day after lifting 440 pounds, completed his lift and shouted out to the crowd, “Not bad for an old guy,” before setting the bar back on the platform.
Now for the Ultimate
Me Hoy Minoy took the gold medal of the Coed Division after an 11-4 final game win over previously undefeated Liquid Funshine. Both teams finished with 3-1 pool play records. The Me Hoy Minoy team, from the Tampa Bay area, won a bronze medal in the 2017 Beach Games.
To earn the gold medal in the final game, Me Hoy Minoy took advantage of the two-point play when scoring plays are made from end zone to end zone, according to team captain Sharon Pederson.
“Those several plays helped us a lot, and the other team had several drops we took advantage of,” Pederson said.
Me Hoy Minoy team members are, Jacki Lopez, Adam Lessey, Corinne Barrett, Rocco Davis, Brandon Perales, Therese Dobler, Sam Pederson, Sharon Pederson, Chris Villar, Whitney Bastian and Tim Scheu.
The Open Division was won by the Lake Wales Sober Divers who were undefeated in pool play. Members of the gold medal winning team are Larz Hanselman, Matthew Eady, Jacob Bryan, Hudson Cogswell and Seth Ziegler.
While the Carlos Sand-Tana team took the silver medal, the team had the distinction of having Butch Brown on its roster, who has won a medal in all four SSG Beach Games Ultimate tournaments. The 49-year old Brown, of Indian Rocks Beach, has a long history in the Sunshine State Games, having played on Ultimate teams in the Summer Games Festivals dating back to 2006.
Going back even further, Brown was a wrestling gold medalist in 1986 while a member of the Largo High School team.
Beach Tennis doubles teams reach record number
A mainstay in the SSG International Beach Games for all four years, Beach Tennis reached a new record high with 43 men’s and women’s doubles teams in competition Saturday.
After winning singles gold medals on Friday, Mateo Godio and Gabriel Martinez, returned to the Beach Tennis courts for doubles play on Saturday. While each advanced to their respective championship games, they finished with silver medals. Angela Bemquerer won her second medal in as many days, winning a silver in the Women’s Open Doubles division after winning the Women’s Advanced Singles gold on Friday.
Toss that Bag into the Hole
In the Cornhole competition, Roni Sue Johnson, of Spring Hill, won her second medal in two days, winning the gold medal in doubles play. She teamed with Bill Smith, of Land O’ Lakes, to defeat Sarah Cassidy and Shane Dingman, of Hernando, in a final best of three match.
Johnson and Smith won game one 21-13, dropped the second game 19-21, and won the third game convincingly 21-7. Johnson won a silver medal in the Blind Draw tournament on Friday night.
The SSG International Beach Games concludes on Sunday with the final day of Beach Tennis and six events of the Highland Games. Athletes will compete in the Clachneart (Stone Put), Heavy Weight for Distance, Light Weight for Distance, Hammer Throw, The Caber Toss, Sheaf Toss and Weight Over Bar.
The Highlands games are set to begin at 9 a.m. while Beach Tennis will commence at 9:30 a.m.
Click here to access full results from the 2018 SSG International Beach Games.
About the Florida Sports Foundation
Florida’s Sports Industry creates over $57.4 billion in economic impact for the Sunshine State, provides over 580,000 jobs for its citizens, and attracts over 16 million out of state visitors each year. All of which deservingly make Florida the “Sports Capital of the World”. The Florida Sports Foundation, Inc. is a 501(C)3 non-profit corporation, serving as the Sports Industry Development Division of Enterprise Florida, Inc. The mission of the Florida Sports Foundation is to:
- Assist Florida’s communities with securing, hosting and retaining Sporting events and sports related business that generate significant economic impact and Sports Tourism for the state of Florida through the Foundation’s grant programs, legislative initiatives and Industry Partner service, recognition and development.
- Provide the citizens of Florida with participation opportunities in the Sunshine State Games and Florida Senior Games events.
- Serve as Florida’s leading resource for Sport Tourism research and facts.
- Assist in the promotion of targeted leisure sports industries in Florida.
- Assist National and Florida State Governing Bodies to promote amateur sport development through the Sunshine State Games and hosting events in Florida.