TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – A pair of athletes who have expanded their game from the Sunshine State Games to a national level have earned the 2019 Sunshine State Games Athlete of the Year honors for their performances in last year’s Games.
Gabrielle “Elle” Eskew, an Artistic Roller Skater from Chuluota, and Paul McFarquhar, a Taekwondo athlete from Tampa, are the 42nd and 43rd individual athletes to receive the annual honor.
Eskew is a 14-year-old skater for the Skating School of Central Florida, based in Casselberry. Elle was the standout performer at the 2019 Sunshine State Games Artistic Roller Skating Championships at Semoran Skateway, winning seven gold, four silver and a bronze medal.
She advanced to the 2019 Artistic Roller Skating National Championships, in Spokane, Washington, where she earned seven national medals.
Besides her on the rink success, Elle is a great example of an athlete who gives back to her sport, according to SSG Artistic Roller Skating Sport Director David Hankerson. She helps teach the Learn-to-Skate classes to assist beginning skaters. During competitions, she volunteers as a referee or steward and has studied to be a Level 1 Judge.
“Elle had a very successful year as a result of the hard work that she put into her skating with a singular focus on lessons, physical training, and of course, practice,” said Hankerson. “She is a great role-model and the perfect ambassador for the sport of artistic roller skating. Elle will definitely make us proud when she one day represents the USA at the World Championships.”
Tampa’s Paul McFarquhar won the 18-29 Male Black Belt 171.6 lb sparring gold medal at the 2019 Games. He has been competing in the Sunshine State Games with his mother, Ruth, father, Hector, Sr., and brother, Hector, Jr., since 2013.
McFarquhar’s rise through the ranks follows the classic Sunshine State Games journey starting in the sport at three years old. Paul worked their way up from the local, to state championships, and winning an AAU national championship.
He competed as a member of the 2017 AAU National team and is currently pursuing a degree from the University of South Florida. With taekwondo being added to the roster of sports in the 2024 Olympic Games, McFarquhar has a goal of reaching the Games in Paris.
“I’ve known Paul since he was working his way up through the color belts,” said SSG Taekwondo Sport Director, Master James White. “He’s worked his way up to black belt, a state champion and is now a member of the AAU Male Senior National Team.”
A complete list of previous of Sunshine State Games Athlete of the Year recipients can be accessed below:
Gabrielle Eskew, Artistic Roller Skating, Casselberry
Paul McFarquhar, Taekwondo, Tampa
Madison Malone, Ultra Weight Throw, Fort Lauderdale
Kahleil Jackson, Basketball, Hawthorne
Angelica Ramirez, Archery, Melbourne
Brian Hickey, Track and Field, Tallahassee
Briana Whitman, Synchronized Swimming, Lakeland
Trevor McGovern, Swimming, Gainesville
Jenn Figueroa, Rowing, Gainesville
Jaden Villalobos, Wrestling, Fort Lauderdale
Graciana Wargo, Racquetball, Clearwater
Jamari Johnson, Track and Field, Tampa
Jesse Price, Taekwondo, Tampa
Justin Herman, Fencing, Plantation
Jessicah O’Rourke, Artistic Roller-skating, St. Petersburg
Bill Kelly, Archery, Lakeland
Carolyn Vasconcellos, Synchronized Swimming, Palm Coast
Chris Follenius, Weightlifting, Gainesville
Cece Williams, Swimming, Tallahassee
Matt Tamayo, Karate, Gainesville
The Germain Family, Judo, Bartow
Evelyn Dowling, West Palm Beach, Synchronized Swimming
Luke Kendall, Winter Haven, Track & Field/Swimming
Jessica Randolph, Plantation, Swimming
Joe Shanahan, Casselberry, Track & Field
Tim Gehret, Miami, Ultimate
Lady Superfriends Basketball Team, Gadsden County
Ryan Milmoe, Weightlifting, Fort Lauderdale
Susan Pfahler, Racquetball, Neptune Beach
Shane Simerly, Judo Niceville
Tyler Wolfe, Karate, Gainesville
Samuel Valentin, Tampa, Boxing
Gertrude Zint, Edgewater, Rowing
Anita Perkins, Track & Field, Belle Glade (Summer Games)
Larry Parzynski, Canoe/Kayak, Cape Coral (Summer Games)
Felecia Gostisbehere, Figure Skating, Margate (Spring)
Andrew Stroud, Fencing, Safety Harbor (Spring Games)
Alina Syukova, Synch. Swimming, Longwood (Summer)
Robert Wimberly, Wrestling, Fort Lauderdale (Summer)
Melanie Vega-Borja, Judo, Wellington (Spring Games)
Chad Schiferl, Mountain Bike, Criterium, St. Pete (Spring)
Amber Davis, Weightlifting, Chiefland (Summer Games)
Alex Forbes, Swimming, Casselberry (Summer Games)
Dusty Price, Figure Skating, Coral Springs (Spring Games)
Catherine Leach, Sport Shooting, Orlando (Spring Games)