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East County Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020 1 year ago

Prose and Kohn: Transfers make impact at Lakewood Ranch High

These Mustangs have excelled in their fall sports.
by: Ryan Kohn Sports Reporter

When you wear a mask, no one knows who you are. 

That's what comforted Gracie Marston as she made the transition from Braden River High to Lakewood Ranch High this school year.

Marston, a junior girls cross country (and track and field) runner, said she was nervous to make the change. The two school's layouts are different, Marston said, and with pandemic-related restrictions like only being able to walk one direction down certain hallways, it was tough to learn where her classes were.

Still, she never felt like an outsider while in class. That was in part because of the cloth that covered her face. 

"You can only see each other's eyes," Marston said. "No one knew I was a transfer student."

Grace Marston made the state track and field tournament at Braden River High. Now she's at Lakewood Ranch High.

Marston is one of a handful of fall-sport athletes to transfer to Lakewood Ranch this year, many of whom have been leaders in their respective sports. At cross country practice, Marston said, she quickly found comfort in both her teammates and her coaches. The cross country program there is more competitive at the team level than Braden River's.

The Mustangs finished third out of 17 teams at the Invitational, one of the most competitive meets of the season, on Sept. 26 at Lakeland's Holloway Park. Marston finished 15th overall (19:44.11), approximately nine seconds behind junior teammate Aurora Melzer, who finished one slot ahead. Both Marston and Melzer's times were given an "Elite Performance" designation by 

On the boys golf team, Tim Williamson came to Lakewood Ranch from Sarasota Military Academy. Williamson actually arrived at Lakewood Ranch in the third quarter of last year, but this is his first year playing with the Mustangs golf team. Williamson said his transition to Lakewood Ranch was slow at first. By the third quarter of a year, everyone's friend groups are set, so meeting new people was a bit difficult. But Williamson said he feels more comfortable this year, even with COVID-19 restrictions.

"At school now, you show up, do the work and leave," Williamson said. "There's not a lot of socializing. That's the mindset I have to have in golf, too. I'm there to win."

Williamson said being able to develop that mindset in school before hitting the links has helped his game. It shows: On Sept. 19, Williamson shot a 66 (six under par) to win medalist honors at the Riverview Invitational, held at Lakewood National Golf Club's Piper course. It was the lowest score of his career thus far, which Williamson said both gave him confidence and put more pressure on him to repeat the performance. The next time out, Williamson battled a slow start to shoot par (72) at the Braden River Invitational, held Sept. 25 at Waterlefe Golf and River Club.

Williamson said his relationship with Coach Dave Frantz has also helped his game, especially the mental side of things. Williamson said he has worked on not giving up when faced with challenging situations. 

On the gridiron, a few different transfers have made an impact, but none more so than junior wide receiver Jaleel Duncan, who came to the Mustangs from Manatee High. At Lakewood Ranch, the Mustangs have made him a focal point. In the team's 27-7 win against Booker High on Sept. 26, Duncan caught a 61-yard touchdown pass that broke open the game. In the Mustangs' other two games, he has nine catches for 103 yards and a touchdown. 

Adding to the list is Sophie Fedder, a junior volleyball player who transferred to Lakewood Ranch from The Out-of-Door Academy. Fedder has helped the team to an 8-4 record as of Oct. 2. According to MaxPreps, Fedder leads the team in kills per set (3.9). 


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I’m the sports reporter for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. I was born and raised in Olney, MD. My biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. My strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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