New Land O’ Lakes football coach embraces program’s traditions

Chad Walker, a veteran college football assistant, is bringing his experience to Land O’ Lakes High as its new head varsity football coach. He is replacing Brian Wachtel, who resigned in November after a combined 25-42 mark in seven seasons. His only winning season was in 2013, when the team went 8-3. Walker, was among 40 applicants for the position. The Pennsylvania native was selected … [Read more...]

Land O’ Lakes swim teams celebrate ‘dream’ season

Land O’ Lakes High School’s 2017 swim season was a memorable one. The Gators thrived in the Class 2A swim meet last month, earning medals and shattering school records in jaw-dropping fashion. The girls squad finished fifth (out of 47 teams), while the boys placed 10th (out of 39 teams) — marking the highest combined finish at states on record for both teams. They collectively earned … [Read more...]

Academy at the Lakes football relishes playoffs, breakout season

Academy at the Lakes football head coach Shawn Brown anticipated a team turnaround before the season. He was right. After three consecutive losing seasons in the eight-man football ranks, the Wildcats are in the midst of one of its best in program history, with a state title in reach. The team currently stands at 9-1, including a 7-0 mark in Florida Christian Region 2 — worthy enough for … [Read more...]

Local high schools shine at state swim meets

The 2017 Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Swimming & Diving Championships wrapped up its meets across all four classes on Nov. 11. Among local schools, Land O’ Lakes and Sunlake displayed the strongest showings at the state event, held at Sailfish Splash Water Park in Stuart. The Sunlake High School girls team placed fourth (out of 48 schools) in the Class 3A meet, … [Read more...]

Land O’ Lakes High head football coach resigns

Land O’ Lakes High School’s varsity football program will have a new leader in 2018. Brian Wachtel, the Gators head coach since 2011, stepped down following the team’s final regular season game on Nov. 3 — a 36-6 win over Fivay High School. Wachtel, 39, announced his decision to principal Ric Mellin prior to the game. Land O’ Lakes athletic director Michael Frump said the school will … [Read more...]

Sunlake golfer among local standouts at states

Nearly two dozen high school golfers, boys and girls, from The Laker/Lutz News Coverage area competed in the 2017 Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) state tournament, which ran Oct. 31 to Nov. 8 Sunlake High’s Jordan Sarhaddi was one of the standouts. The junior tied for 16th in the 2A boys meet, shooting a +13 (75-82—157) at El Campeon Course at the Mission Inn Resort … [Read more...]

Local athletes celebrate paralympic achievements

Whenever she competes, 12-year-old Danielle Kanas gives it her all. And that mindset has worked for the Martinez Middle School seventh-grader, who ran, swam, threw and jumped her way to 15 gold medals and six national records this summer at the Adaptive Sports USA Junior Nationals in Middleton, Wisconsin. Kanas — a single-arm amputee, missing her left arm below the elbow — recently added … [Read more...]

Sunlake keeps ‘Butter Bowl’ streak alive

It wasn’t easy, but the Sunlake Seahawks secured its first win of the season — and maintained its dominance over the Land O’ Lakes Gators in the 11th annual “Butter Bowl” rivalry game, with a 37-20 victory. The Sept. 22 road win marks the Seahawks’ (1-3) eighth straight victory over the Gators (1-2) since the series began in 2007. Trailing 14-3 midway through the third quarter, the … [Read more...]

Local youth barefoot water-skier wins national title

Brett Swanbom can be considered a rising star in the extreme sport of barefoot water-skiing. The 11-year-old, who lives in Land O’ Lakes, has the medals to prove it. Swanbom won first overall in the boys B Division (12 & under) at the 2017 United States Barefoot Nationals on Aug. 5 in Polk City. There, he claimed gold medals in jump and slalom events, and a silver medal in … [Read more...]

Land O’ Lakes coaches named nation’s best

The accolades haven’t stopped for the Land O’ Lakes High Gators softball program, months after winning its first-ever fast pitch state title. The latest award spotlights the team’s coaches. The Gators coaching staff has been named the 2017 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) High School Coaching Staff of the Year. The award came on July 27, and the Land O’ Lakes coaches beat out … [Read more...]