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Prose and Kohn

A spring sports check-in in Sarasota

With spring break here for Sarasota County Schools, it's time to see who has started the season on fire.

Riverview High's Luis Castaneda is the Class 4A leader in the discus as of March 14.
Riverview High's Luis Castaneda is the Class 4A leader in the discus as of March 14.
File photo
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The spring sports season is the shortest of the high school sports seasons, but every year, it feels shorter. 

Case in point: It feels like this year's season just began, but in reality, we're approximately three weeks away from postseason play starting in lacrosse, and the other sports will soon after follow suit. As we're more than halfway through the lacrosse season and close to halfway through other sports, it's time to compile a list of players and teams who have started their seasons hotter than the sun — even though you may not have heard about their efforts. 

Call it an under-the-radar list, as I have in the past, or call it whatever you like: the bottom line is these people deserve some recognition. 

Kevontay Hugan, Booker High track and field

Hugan, a freshman, starred on the Tornadoes' football team in the fall as a defensive lineman and earned himself offers from Penn State, South Florida and Maryland. He looks to be just as dominant a force in field events. Hugan finished second in the shot put (47 feet 0.25 inches) at the 2023 North Port Invitational, held March 9 at North Port High. 

That mark may have only earned second place at the meet, but it was also the 15th-best mark by anyone in a Class 2A school this season. The 14 people in front of Hugan — which includes Cardinal Mooney High senior Marc Dalmau (48 feet, 11 inches) at No. 9 — are all juniors or seniors. Hugan has three years to refine his technique and get stronger. With these early results, it would be a surprise if he did not bring home a track and field medal at some point in his high school career. 

Luis Castaneda, Riverview High track and field

Speaking of people who could bring home a track and field medal: Rams junior Luis Castaneda is the current Class 4A leader in the boys discus (171 feet, 11 inches). Like Hugan, Castaneda set his best mark at the North Port Invitational. His throw is approximately three feet better than second-place Dylan Horne (168 feet, 11.25 inches), a senior at Ocoee High, and approximately 20 feet better than anyone else in the class, at least thus far. 

Castaneda has improved immensely from his 2022 performance, when he had a personal best throw of 150 feet, seven inches, and finished 12th at the state meet with a 141-foot, 3.25-inch toss. Even if he never bests his current mark, he's got a chance to take home gold at the state meet in May. 

Susan Lowther, Riverview High girls lacrosse
Riverview High girls lacrosse player Susan Lowther is one of Florida's goal leaders.
File photo

After scoring at a 3.8 goals per game pace a season ago, Rams junior Susan Lowther has made a leap to a different level of lacrosse play in 2023. Lowther has 60 goals in 10 games (6.0 goals per game), which ranks second in Florida, and has added 23 assists. In six of her 10 games, Lowther has recorded 10 total points or more. Her offense has helped a young Rams to a 6-4 record. 

The Sarasota High baseball pitching staff

The Sailors have only used four pitchers this season, according to MaxPreps data, but all four have been commanding on the mound. 

Here's what I mean. Junior hurler Bernard Barnes Jr. holds a 1.17 ERA through 12 innings pitched. That's a sparkling mark and it would be the lowest ERA on plenty of good baseball teams, but on the Sailors, it's actually the highest. 

Senior Luke Jackson has a 1.11 ERA over 12.2 innings. Senior Tanner Crump has a 0.74 ERA over 19 innings. And junior Michael Bendever has yet to allow a run through 7.1 innings. That all amounts to a 0.82 staff ERA through seven games.

It's still a little early in the baseball season compared to other spring sports, but that is still an absurd number. It's no wonder why the Sailors are 6-1 despite having scored just 27 runs themselves (3.9 runs per game). 

Isabelle Bain, Riverview High softball

The Rams have gotten off to a 1-5 start in 2023, but Bain has been an offensive bright spot. After hitting .118 in 17 varsity at-bats as a freshman in 2022, the sophomore is hitting .444 with a double, a home run and eight RBIs this season. 

Caleb Bradley, Sarasota High track and field
Sarasota High sprinter and hurdler Caleb Bradley is in the mix in the Class 4A 200-meter dash.
File photo

Bradley, a senior sprinter and hurdler, has put himself into the elite conversation in the Class 4A 200-meter dash category with his performance at the North Port Invitational. Bradley finished in 21.85 seconds, which is good for 13th in the class. But the top of the class is packed as tight as sardines: 0.25 seconds separates Bradley from fifth-place Treasure Coast High senior Shomari Pettigrew (21.60 seconds). That's a difference that can be covered if things break right. 

Julia Piotrowska, Riverview High tennis

Piotrowska, a sophomore, is listed as the Rams' No. 1 singles player on MaxPreps, and for good reason. She's the No. 184 player in the national class of 2025 (and No. 31 in Florida) according to the Tennis Recruiting Network, which gave her a four-star rating. Piotrowska has started the 2023 high school season 4-0 and is surely a contender to go deep into the postseason. 



Ryan Kohn

Ryan Kohn is the sports editor for Sarasota and East County and a Missouri School of Journalism graduate. He was born and raised in Olney, Maryland. His biggest inspirations are Wright Thompson and Alex Ovechkin. His strongest belief is that mint chip ice cream is unbeatable.

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