2023 Sunshine State Games Alachua County Festival Comes to a Conclusion
The heat stayed the same but the thunderstorms stayed away, for more than 1,000 athletes, on the final day of the 2023 Sunshine State Games Alachua County Festival, presented in conjunction with the Gainesville Sports Commission.
Artistic Swimmers were able to climb atop the medal podium to receive the gold, silver and bronze medals. That was not an opportunity on Friday and Saturday, as rain and lightning brought the competition to a quick ending on both days.
Ultimate teams remained on the field recalling the events of two days on fields of the Jonesville Soccer Complex and caught up with old friends. On Saturday, they scurried for cover when a thunderstorm rolled in the final round of games.
Throwing the Disc Down the Field
The Uproar and B-Unit teams had plenty to talk about as Uproar won the eight team Men’s Division and B-Unit was the Mixed Division Gold Medal winning team.
Uproar defeated TempRoar, 13-9, in the championship game. But it was actually an Uproar win all around, as the Tampa-based team was split into two teams, according to Ultimate Sport Director, Eric Tumelty, of Jacksonville.
B-Unit, made up of players from Gainesville and Orlando, defeated Shipwreck, of Jacksonville, 13-6, in the Mixed Division gold medal game.
Artistic Swimming for All Ages
The H. Spurgeon Cherry Northside Pool, the Artistic Swimming Novice and Open Division provided a wide range of athletes in age and talent level.
While the Novice Division swimmers performed their routines to current pop tunes and their Novice level talent was at times obvious, things changed when Sarolta Lukovszky, a 24-year old Open Division swimmer, dove into the water.
Performing her solo routine to “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” by Otis Redding, Lukovzsky, is a former member of the Hungarian National Artistic Swimming Team, who has traveled throughout Europe and Asia to compete. She won two National Championships titles swimming for Lindenwood University, in St. Louis.
Now studying for her Master’s Degree of Science in Marketing from the University of Tampa, she has been working out with the Tampa Bay SynchRays team.
“The team has been preparing for this event for a while, so I decided to get back in and compete as well,” she said.
After her stunning performance, she was followed by Sunshine State Games Artistic Swimming Sport Director, Lorraine Valerino, who coaches and swims for the Lakeland YMCA Flamingos. Before starting her Open Solo routine, she looked at the judges and said, “I have to follow that?”
However daunting it was for Valerino to follow a former National Champion and National Team swimmer, she welcomed Lukovszky to the Sunshine State Games.
“With her studying at the University of Tampa, it’s cool to have someone with her knowledge and experience in the state,” she said.
Battling It Out for the Fencing Team Trophy
With Fencing clubs from around the state competing for two days at the Legacy Park Multipurpose Center, in Alachua, the hometown club, Florida Fencing Academy, of Gainesville, won the 2023 Sunshine State Games Team Trophy.
Florida Fencing Academy tallied 34 total points, with scoring based on the number of medals won, by one point over Epee Miami. It was the first time the Florida Fencing Academy won the award.
“It literally came down to one semifinal match that Epee Miami didn’t win in the last division, that kept it from being a tie,” said Brian Harper, coach of the Florida Fencing Academy.
Local Archer Earns Inaugural Award
Another hometown athlete garnered accolades as Gainesville’s Eric Thoburn earned the inaugural Tim Austin Award, which was named after the late Sunshine State Games Archery Director, who served in his position from 1980 until 2021.
Thoburn, the president of the Gator Bowmen Club, who hosted the 2023 Sunshine State Games Archery Championships, shot on both days of the event and led the club in preparing the club for over 100 athletes in action on Saturday and Sunday.
“Eric captured the spirit of Tim Austin through his hard work with the club to make the Sunshine State Games happen,” said Oliver Austin, Tim’s son and current Archery Sport Director. “That’s what Tim did from 1980 until his death. Make the Sunshine State Games happen.”
Up Next for the Sunshine State Games
The 44th Annual Sunshine State Games continues next weekend with Table Tennis, Taekwondo and Wakeboard taking place in Polk County. Over 400 athletes have registered for the Taekwondo competition to be held, Saturday, June 17 and Sunday, June 18, at the Polk State College Winter Haven Health Center.
The Sunshine State Games is an annual Olympic-style Sports Festival for amateur athletes of all ages. Now in its 44th year, dating back to 1980, the Sunshine State Games is the longest continuously-running State Games in the U.S. The 2023 Sunshine State Game is held in conjunction with the Gainesville Sports Commission, Central Florida’s Polk County Sports Marketing, Visit Lauderdale, Punta Gorda/Englewood Beach Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB) and Earl Enterprises.