+ Rider crowned National Champion
Twelve-year-old Jesse Ansley won the final round of the Grand National Cross Country series Nov. 3, at Lorretta Lynn’s Ranch in Hurricane Mills, Tenn.
Jesse, who also races in the Florida series, was crowned National Champion for the 65 (10-11) class, finishing the series with a perfect score of 180.
Jesse will be recognized during the GNCC banquet Jan. 12, in Morgantown, W. Va.
+ Ranch senior defends state championship
Lakewood Ranch High senior Danielle Valley defended her state title in the 500-yard freestyle at the Class 2A Swimming and Diving Championships Nov. 8, in Orlando.
Valley, who also finished as the state runner-up in the 200 freestyle, led the Lady Mustangs who scored 73 1/2 points to finish ninth.
Madison Jean finished seventh in the 100 butterfly.
The Lakewood boys team finished sixth with 88 points. Will Kazokas finished fourth in the 50 freestyle and sixth in the 100 butterfly. The 400 freestyle relay team of Kazokas, Kevin Berkenbusch, Eric Erlenmeyer and Luke Hanner finished sixth.
+ Nolan girls win county crown
The Nolan Middle School girls soccer team won its second-consecutive Manatee County Girls Soccer Championship Oct. 25.
Nolan defeated Haile Middle School in penalty kicks. The girls overcame a 0-2 deficit to defeat King Middle School 3-2 and advance to the championship game.
Championship players include: Cameryn Wurster, Erin McGrath, Samantha Harris, Shyanne Madison, Sophia Falco, Lexi Boynes, Alexandra Boudreau, Katie Brooks, Kylie Privette, Katrina Winkler, Ajine Taylor, Chanel Duregger, Kinsey Goelz, Sydney Wicks, Caitlyn Klein and Donna Dunkum.
+ Lady Pirates go undefeated in Preseason Classic
The Braden River High girls basketball team defeated Cardinal Mooney and Booker in a pair of Preseason Classic games this week.
On Nov. 5, the Lady Pirates defeated the Lady Cougars 62-11. Cheyenne Ogline and Erica Glisson each had 12 points and Kelly Logan added 11 points.
Braden River followed up its win with a 45-26 victory over Booker. Alexis Stout paced the Lady Pirates with 10 points and six rebounds. Logan added seven points and Charity Landrum had seven points.
+ Lakewood Ranch WGA celebrates with Monster Bash
The Lakewood Ranch 18-hole Women’s Golf Association celebrated Halloween during its Monster Bash Oct. 30.
Seventy-six members dressed up and participated in the event. Committee members Brenda Maraman, Kyle Robertson, Roxanne Moore, Helen Low, Debbie Reese, Nancy Carnes and Fran Mastrelli came up with the theme and helped make the event a success.
Observer crowns first Ultimate Sports Fans
The Ultimate Sports Fan contest winners for September are Adam, Tanya and Levi Waxler. The Waxlers submitted a photo of themselves cheering on the Rays in their victory over the Texas Rangers Sept. 9, in Tampa.
A new Ultimate Sports Fan will be crowned each month through May, and the winner will receive a gourmet tailgate package from Morton’s Gourmet Market. The submission period for the November contest runs until Nov. 22, and voting will take place from Nov. 22 to Nov. 26. To submit your photo or vote for the next winner, visit yourobserver.com.
Lakewood Ranch runners headed to states
The Lakewood Ranch High boys and girls cross-country teams will compete in the Class 3A Cross-Country Championships Nov. 17, in Tallahassee.
The Lady Mustangs scored 69 points to finish second behind Estero (39) in the Class 3A-Region 3 Cross-Country Meet Nov. 9 in Estero.
Kristin Zarrella finished sixth in 19:49.10 to pace Lakewood. Natalie Novak was eighth in 20:10.10 followed by Katie Wray (16th, 20:34.50), Michelle Last (19th, 20:47.40) and Julia Ortiz (20th, 20:49.90).
Braden River’s Alexis Cullen finished 25th in 21:16.30.
On the boys’ side, Lakewood scored 156 points to finish fifth. Mitch Arnold finished 21st in 17:38.40 to pace the Mustangs. Steven Estes finished 25th in 17:48.00.
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Food and fun
The Lakewood Ranch Business Alliance and its Young Leaders Alliance have something to talk about: the organizations collected 764 pounds of nonperishable food and $1,295 cash to benefit The Food Bank of Manatee/Meals on Wheels PLUS.
River Club’s Cheryl Kaufman says she’s still pinching herself.
A little “Ho! Ho! Ho!” can go a long way this holiday season.