The Laker and the Lutz News has named its inaugural All-Laker/All-Lutz News girls team for the entire 2011-12 high school year. Members were selected based on their skill, value to their squad, final statistics and head-to-head matchups, and only student-athletes who competed in at least two sports were considered. In addition, coaches and teams that stood out are also recognized.
Schools in the coverage area include Academy at the Lakes, Bishop McLaughlin, Carrollwood Day, Freedom, Gaither, Land O’ Lakes, Steinbrenner, Sunlake, Wesley Chapel, Wharton and Wiregrass Ranch. The boys team will be revealed next week.
Stats are as recorded to Maxpreps.com or provided by coaches, and all postseason performances are as recorded by the FHSAA. All grade levels for student-athletes are from the 2011-12 school year. Sports Editor Kyle LoJacono selected the team. He can be reached at .
–Sandra Akachukwu, Jr., Freedom. Akachukwu made
a huge impact on Freedom sports in her first year transferring from King. She
helped the basketball team go 18-11 and finish as a district runner-up while
scoring two points, grabbing 1.4 rebounds and getting one steal per game at
guard. She followed that up with an explosion during track regionals, where she
claimed championships in the long jump and 100- and 200-meters and took second
in the high jump. The junior earned medals in all four events at the Class 4A
–Cary Anne Bame, Sr., Steinbrenner. Bame was the starting
libero and team captain for the Warriors team that set a program record with 24
wins last season. Steinbrenner also won its third straight district title in
2011 and reached the regional semifinals. Bame recorded 262 digs and 18 aces to
earn All-Laker/All-Lutz News Volleyball Player of the Year honors. She also
shined as a defensive back for the flag football team, where she notched 44
flag pulls and one interception to help the squad reach its first postseason.
–Courtney Durbin, Sr., Sunlake. Durbin was one of the most
complete softball players in the area. She played a near-flawless outfield, but
really shined as an offensive terror. The senior hit .533 with 33 runs, 23 RBI,
10 doubles and eight triples while stealing 20 bases, to help the Seahawks go
17-6. Her work on the diamond earned her All-Laker/All-Lutz News Softball
Player of the Year honors. She was also a member of the girls weightlifting
team that won a district championship for the third consecutive season.
–Hannah Eder, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch. Eder was one of the
most versatile athletes in the area. She claimed track district championships
in the long and triple jumps and helped the 4×100-meter relay team take first.
The junior also placed third at districts in the 100, an event she had never
competed in before, to help the Bulls win the team title for the fourth
straight year. Eder also scored six goals and recorded six assists while
playing forward/midfield for the soccer team (17-5).
–Bailey Hooker, Jr., Steinbrenner. Just call her queen of
the hard courts. Hooker was at the center of the Steinbrenner volleyball (24-5)
and basketball (22-3) teams earning district titles this year. The
guard/forward led all area girls basketball players with 19.4 points while
adding 5.8 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 2.1 blocks. As a middle hitter in
volleyball she put down 55 kills with a hitting percentage of 32.8 and 60 total
blocks, 49 solo.
–Andrea Mauger, Jr., Academy at the Lakes. Mauger led the
Wildcats basketball team (23-6) to the first final four in school history,
while also earning a berth in the Class 1A state track meet. Mauger, a forward,
posted 15.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and four assists per game to help the academy
win consecutive district championships and earn the All-Laker/All-Lutz News
Girls Basketball Player of the Year award. She also claimed district gold in
the shot put with a toss of 32-feet 5-inches.
–Courtney Prengaman, Jr., Wesley Chapel. The 6-foot-2
Prengaman did something never seen before in Wesley Chapel’s 12-year history —
win a girls track state championship. The junior cleared 5-feet 6-inches at the
Class 2A final, better than anyone else in Florida. She also broke the school
record four times, setting the new mark of 5-7 at districts and earned
All-Laker/All-Lutz News Girls Field Athlete of the Year honors. Her height also
made her an explosive force for the Wildcats volleyball team.
–Nikita Shah, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch. Shah had the most
successful season of any area distance runner. She ran better than 18 minutes
during the cross country district, regional and state meets. The junior
recorded a 17:53.96 during the Class 3A state final to finish fourth, but that
time would have given her gold in the other three classifications. During track
she earned Sunshine Athletic Conference championships in the 1,600- and
3,200-meters, reached states in both and walked away with the bronze medal in
the latter by posting a 10:49.62.
–Spencer Valdespino, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin. In the fall, Valdespino
left a wake of destruction on the soccer field. The speedy and powerful
midfielder led the Hurricanes with 18 goals and 17 assists en route to a 13-6-3
record and a district runner-up spot. In the spring, she was the ‘Canes
do-everything outfielder, hitting .500 with 27 runs, 18 RBI, 15 steals, four
doubles and three home runs. Bishop McLaughlin went 13-15 and reached the
playoffs as a district champion.
–Alexis Wright, Sr., Steinbrenner. Wright earned a trio of
Western Conference and district track championships, winning the 100- and
300-meter hurdles and the triple jump. The University of Miami-bound senior
reached the Class 3A state meet in the three events and picked up fifth-place
medals in the 100 and triple. She was also the lock-down defender for the
Warriors basketball team (22-3). Wright, a guard, averaged 6.9 points, four
rebounds and two steals.
–Ariana Bailey, Jr., Land O’ Lakes. The tri-sport athlete
helped the Gators on the volleyball court, soccer field and softball diamond.
As the starting goalkeeper, she racked up 146 saves with 13 shutouts to help
Land O’ Lakes go 14-7-3 and win its first district title since 2003. She played
second base for the softball team and contributed to the volleyball squad as an
outside hitter/middle hitter.
–Jessica Brewer, Jr., Steinbrenner. Brewer made a huge
impact on the Warriors track team. Her first place in the long jump and fourth
place in the triple jump helped Steinbrenner win consecutive district
championships while qualifying for states by setting a new personal record with
a long jump of 16-feet ll.5-inches. The junior was also on the cheerleading
team that finished as the Class 2A large division state runner-up.
–Stephany Brown, Sr., Wharton. The 6-foot-2 senior was one
of the most ferocious middle blockers in the state. She averaged 1.3 blocks per
set as a senior, tied for 10th most in Florida. She added 157 kills and 29 aces
for a Wharton team that went 19-4. Aldo, she contributed to the track team by
placing fifth in the high jump at districts.
–Meghan Durbin, Sr., Sunlake. Durbin was the Seahawks
softball team’s No. 1 pitcher, going 10-4 with a 2.76 ERA and 59 strikeouts in
83.2 innings. Durbin also played second base and in the outfield while batting
.359 with 31 RBI, 28 runs, 13 steals and eight doubles. The senior also joined
the weightlifting team, which won its third straight district title in 2012.
–Hallie Grimes, So., Land O’ Lakes. Grimes reached
consecutive Class 3A state track meets this season, where she earned the
sixth-place medal (56.93 seconds) in the 400-meters. She also won Sunshine
Athletic Conference and district championships in the 400. The sophomore helped
the Gators cheerleading team finish third at the Class 1A large division state
–Arielle Le-Tran, Sr., Land O’ Lakes. Le-Tran’s ability as
a lethal forward or midfielder helped give Land O’ Lakes soccer the offensive
boost needed to win its first district title since 2003. She scored nine goals
and recorded six assists a year after tearing the ACL in her left knee while
adding leadership to the Gators. She also ran the 3,200-meters for track team.
–Amelia Oliver, Sr., Academy at the Lakes. The Sunlake High
transfer made huge impacts for the Wildcats. Her 18.9 points gave the
basketball team (23-6) the scoring needed to make the Class 2A final four. She
also played third base/outfield for the softball team that went 14-5, won a
district title and made the regional finals. She started her year on the front
line of the academy’s volleyball team.
–Kendra Sheets, Sr., Land O’ Lakes. Sheets epitomized
defense. She had a team-high 67 blocks, 58 solo, while adding 133 digs and 56
kills as a middle hitter on the Gators volleyball team. She grabbed 9.1
rebounds as a forward for the basketball squad while scoring 7.5 points. The
senior ended the year advancing to track regionals in the high jump.
–Jessica Taylor, Fr., Steinbrenner. The freshman earned a
starting spot on the soccer team (16-4-2) as a midfielder/forward, scoring six
goals and adding two assists in helping the Warriors win their third straight
district title. As a wide receiver on the flag football team, she recorded
1,023 total yards and 10 touchdowns, which helped Steinbrenner make its first
–Berlin Waters, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch. The blazingly-fast
Waters led all area soccer players with 21 goals while kicking in seven assists
from the forward position. Her offensive skills helped the Bulls go 17-5. The
junior also joined the cross country team this year, helping Wiregrass Ranch
win its fourth straight Sunshine Athletic Conference and district championship
and place seventh at the Class 3A state meet.
–Linzi Arndt, Sr., Land O’ Lakes. Took over as the Gators’
No. 1 tennis player, leading the squad to a district runner-up playoff berth in
consecutive years. Also competed with Land O’ Lakes’ weightlifting team.
–Mikayla Barber, Jr., Wharton. Made a big mark as a
hurdler, where she won the 100- and 300-meters district track titles. Made the
Class 4A state meet in both events and placed fourth in the 300 while playing
middle hitter for Wharton’s volleyball team.
–Lexy Bubley, Sr., Gaither. The Steinbrenner transfer gave
a physical presence to Gaither soccer’s defensive unit while adding six
interceptions and 18 flag pulls in her first year playing flag football.
–Rachel Cazares, So., Gaither. Reached regionals in two
events during the track season after doing the same in cross country. Cazares
played soccer in between.
–Elise Cedre, So., Wiregrass Ranch. The sophomore finished
64th at the Class 3A state cross country meet. Reached regionals as part of the
Bulls 4×800-meter relay team.
–Shannon Clark, Jr., Wharton. A center piece in Wharton
basketball’s (13-15) playoff run. The guard/forward scored 8.7 points with 3.1
rebounds. Before the winter season she played for the Wildcats golf team.
–Teresa Della Penna, Sr., Land O’ Lakes. Led the Gators
volleyball team with 185 kills and 50 aces while adding 200 digs and 26 blocks.
Della Penna also threw the discus for the track squad.
–Tiffany Echevarria, Jr., Wesley Chapel. The point guard
was a bright spot for the Wildcats basketball team. She recorded 14.5 points
per contest while helping Wesley Chapel’s 4×800-meter track relay team reach
–Stephanie Francis, Jr., Sunlake. Sunlake’s powerful third
baseman hit .563 with 34 RBI, 29 runs, 11 doubles and six homers. Used her
muscle to help the Seahawks weightlifting team win its third district title.
–Jordanyné Fye, Sr., Wiregrass Ranch. Was a spark for the
Bulls girls soccer team off the bench, scoring nine goals with four assists.
Her work as the No. 5 helped the tennis team win the first district title in
–Lauren Garris, Jr., Steinbrenner. Garris’ work as a
distance runner and forward/midfielder helped the Warriors cross country,
soccer and track teams win district titles this season.
–Chelse Davis, Jr.,
Wiregrass Ranch. One of only three returners in the Bulls cross country top
seven, helping the program, along with the track team, win Sunshine Athletic
Conference and district titles.
–Savannah Goode, So.,
Wiregrass Ranch. The newcomer’s improvement helped the Bulls cross county team
win its fourth straight Sunshine Athletic Conference and district title. Also
reached regionals in track with the 4×400-meter relay team.
–Jhade Hayes, Fr., Sunlake. The combo guard for the
Seahawks basketball team recorded a team-high 13.6 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.2
steals. Also won a Sunshine Athletic Conference title in the discus throw.
–Alexis Holler, Sr., Academy at the Lakes. Made her
contributions as a forward on the basketball team with defense and rebounding
to the sound of 4.1 boards per game. Kicked in 23 aces and 16 blocks as a
volleyball rightside hitter.
–Abby Hudak, Jr., Wesley Chapel. The pole vaulter took
second at the Sunshine Athletic Conference meet while reaching regionals. Also
participated with the Wildcats cheerleading squad.
–Bianca Igwe, Fr., Freedom. The center added 3.4 rebounds,
3.3 points and one steal per contest for the Patriots basketball team that
finished as a district runner-up. Her shot put of 31-feet 8-iches placed her
second at districts.
–Cassidy Kallenborn, Fr., Sunlake. The freshman hit .245
with eight runs while playing shortstop in softball, scored four goals while
playing midfield in soccer and ran on the cross country team.
–Morgan Litchfield, Sr., Gaither. Shot 91 at golf districts
to make regionals as an individual. Also hit .339 with 18 runs, 12 RBI
and five doubles while manning first base for the Cowboys softball squad.
–Caitlin Milne, Jr., Gaither. The
infielder/designated hitter batted .367 with 21 RBI and two homers for the
softball team. Also qualified individually for golf regionals.
–Andrea Niggebrugge, Sr., Bishop McLaughlin. The tri-sport
athlete led ‘Canes basketball with 9.6 points, 7.3 steals and 2.5 assists while
hitting .373 with 22 runs and 15 RBI for the softball team. Also on the
school’s volleyball team that made the playoffs.
–Grace Olsen, So., Wiregrass Ranch. Showed her versatility
for the Bulls volleyball team, recording a team-high 150 kills and 351 digs.
Olsen’s work as a defender helped the soccer team allow only 15 goals with 13
–Neena Pacholke, Jr., Freedom. The guard’s 7.5 points and
1.3 assists in basketball and 46 digs as a defensive specialist in volleyball
helped both Freedom teams make consecutive postseasons.
–Emily Payne, Jr., Wiregrass Ranch. Moved up five spots to
help the cross country team and added depth to the track squad to help both win
their fourth straight Sunshine Athletic Conference and district title.
–Hanna Seybold, Jr., Freedom. On the first Freedom
cheerleading squad to win a county and regional title. Also a midfielder for
the soccer team that made its third straight postseason while totaling 806
yards in flag football.
–Meghan Sfraga, Sr., Land O’ Lakes. The solid defensive
catcher for the Gators softball team hit .357. Also on the Land O’ Lakes
–Ashley Smith, Sr.,
Freedom. The top runner on the first Freedom cross country squad to make the
state meet, and also ran the distance events for the track team.
–Joelle Stewart, Sr.,
Land O’ Lakes. Part of the Gators soccer defensive unit that allowed only 20
goals in 24 games with 13 shutouts after playing volleyball in the fall.
–Taylor Thigpen, So., Steinbrenner. Ran point for the first
Warriors basketball team to make the postseason to the tune of four points, 2.8
assists and 1.8 steals. Also reached track regionals in the long jump.
–Jessica Weatherman, Jr., Steinbrenner. Kicked for the
football team (7-3), played forward in basketball (22-3), made track regionals
in the discus throw and part of the first Steinbrenner flag football team to
make the playoffs.
Girls Athlete of the Year: Alexis Wright, Steinbrenner. Wright
was a central piece in two of Steinbrenner’s most successful teams this season.
In the winter, her defensive mentality at guard helped the Warriors basketball
team go 22-3, qualify for the first postseason in the program’s three-year
history and hoist the squad’s first district championship. She also racked up
6.9 points, four rebounds and two steals per contest. In the spring, Wright
helped the track team earn consecutive district titles and finish as a regional
runner-up for the first time. Individually, she earned three conference and
district championships, one regional title and walked away from the Class 3A
state meet with two fifth-place medals, one in the triple jump (38 feet 4
inches) and the other in the 100-meter hurdles (14.75 seconds). She was named
the All-Laker/All-Lutz News Girls Track Athlete of the Year this season and
will continue her running career at the University of Miami.
Girls Athlete Runner-Up: Nikita Shah, Wiregrass Ranch.
Shah’s sophomore season didn’t go
according to plan. She suffered through a bout of anemia that took away much of
her speed, strength and endurance. After getting her iron levels fixed, Shah
trained like never before during the summer, and it showed in distance events
this year. She ran faster than 18 minutes at districts, regionals and states,
finishing off the cross country season with a fourth-place medal. Her time of
17:53.96 was faster than any other runner from Pasco or Hillsborough counties.
The junior, the All-Laker/All-Lutz News Girls Cross Country Runner of the Year,
also placed first in the 1,600- and 3,200-meters during the Sunshine Athletic
Conference meet and took third in the latter during the Class 3A state meet
with her time of 10:49.62.
Girls Team of the Year: Academy at the Lakes basketball.
Despite having only nine players, the Wildcats went out and had one of the most
successful seasons for any Wildcats sports team ever. The academy, which won
consecutive district championships, set a new program record with 23 wins to
only six loses while claiming the school’s first regional championship in any
sport en route to the final four. The academy lost only one contest to another
Class 2A team, which came in the state semifinals.
Girls Team Runner-Up: Steinbrenner track. The Warriors were
coming off a district championship from 2011, but the squad was moving up in
classification from 2A to 3A this season. Steinbrenner not only repeated as
tops in its district, but also earned regional runner-up honors for the first
time in the program’s three-year history. The Warriors also placed second at
the Western Conference American Division meet, while two athletes and a relay
team qualified for states.
Girls Coach of the Year: Michelle Clark, Wesley Chapel
soccer. Wesley Chapel soccer has had zero expectations since the school opened
in 1999 — that is before this season. The Wildcats had no postseason
appearances in its history and had won only 10 games to 65 losses the previous
five years. Clark didn’t care about the program’s past and got the team
believing in itself in her second year at the helm. Wesley Chapel (9-12)
qualified for the playoffs as a district runner-up, something that will likely
become regular for the squad with Clark at the helm.
Girls Coach Runner-Up: Jennifer Graham, Steinbrenner
volleyball. The pressure was on Graham entering the season. She took over a
program that had won consecutive district titles, but was losing six seniors to
graduation. The Warriors took no steps backward, setting a program record with
24 wins to only six loses en route to claiming their third straight district
championship and reaching the regional semifinals in back-to-back years. The
same task falls to another in 2012, as Graham resigned to move back to Alabama
for family reasons.
Surprise Girls Team of the Year: Land O’ Lakes soccer. The
Land O’ Lakes soccer team had quite a challenge ahead when the year started.
The 2010-11 season ended without a playoff appearance for the first time in 11
years and also lost 13 seniors. The young and untested group came together
quickly to re-establish the Gators as one of the area’s top programs. The squad
went 14-7-3 and earned the program’s first district championship since 2003.
Surprise Girls Team Runner-Up: Wiregrass Ranch cross country. The Bulls had a lot of question marks entering the season. Wiregrass
Ranch lost or graduated four of its top-seven runners from the 2010 squad that
won conference, district and regional gold. Coach Don Howard and the returning
athletes got the new girls competing at top form at the season’s end, earning
the program’s fourth straight Sunshine Athletic Conference and district titles.
The Bulls finished seventh at the Class 3A state meet, better than any other