Celebration High’s girls varsity team heads to the 2022 Florida High School Lacrosse State Tournament as a well-deserved district champion.

The Lady Storm doubled up the visiting Bartow Yellow Jackets, 24-12, last Thursday to claim the Class 2A-District 7 title. Celebration entered the seven-team tourney as the top seed – starting the path to a district championship with a 24-1 semifinal victory over fifth-seeded Winter Haven on April 12 – and the double-digit decision against No. 2 seed Bartow gave head coach Laura Jones’ team its 13th win of the season.

The Florida High School Athletic Association posted state brackets this past weekend and up next for Celebration is a rematch with Windermere High in the Class 2A-Region 2 quarterfinals. The match is scheduled for Friday (April 22) with the Lady Storm as the hosts.

Celebration holds the No. 3 seed in Region 2 based on its district title as well as a 9.573 power rating in the final FHSAA rankings. The Lady Storm’s rating also left them ranked No. 18 in Class 2A and No. 35 in the state.

Sixth-seeded Windermere comes in with a 12-5 record following last Thursday’s 11-9 loss to Clermont East Ridge in the District 6 championship match. The Wolverines, who sport an 8.214 power rating, are one of three squads to have defeated Celebration this season.

Windermere used a 5-2 first-half scoring edge to beat Celebration 12-9 on March 31. Junior Erin Balbontin had six goals and scooped up two ground balls for the Lady Storm, while Sophie Paige totaled five goals and two assists for the Wolverines.

The Celebration-Windermere quarterfinal winner advances to the Region 2 semifinals on Tuesday, April 26, against No. 2 seed Hagerty or No. 7 seed Boone. Top-seeded Vero Beach (the No. 1-ranked team in Class 2A and No. 3-ranked club in the state), No. 4 seed East Ridge, No. 5 seed Viera and No. 8 seed Winter Park make up the remainder of Region 2.

Regional finals are set for Friday, April 29. The Paradise Coast Sports Complex in Naples will host the state semifinals (May 6) and Class 2A state championship match (May 7 at 5 p.m.).

Track and field updates

Celebration and Poinciana participated in the annual Orange Belt Conference Championship Meet, which was held last Wednesday at St. Cloud High.

The Storm placed third in the girls’ team standings with 111 points – only 1.5 points behind runner-up St. Cloud – as Harmony won the overall title with 191. Poinciana was eighth with 18.5.

Celebration’s Helena Huyke was an individual triple-winner in the 100 hurdles (15.08 seconds), 300 hurdles (46.57) and long jump (17 feet, ¾ inches). Storm junior Catalina Edwards added firsts in the 800-meter run (2:19.38) and 1,600 meters (5:25.90).

Poinciana freshman Joy Duncan finished third in the high jump (4 feet, 9¾ inches), sixth in the 100 hurdles (18.08) and seventh in the 300 hurdles (53.31).

On the boys side, Celebration came in third as a team with 88 points and Poinciana was eighth with 36. Harmony claimed the team title with 176.5.

Celebration seniors Jared Falchook (50.53) and Gabriel Merino (50.75) went 1-2 in the 400 meters, while Falchook won the 3,200 meters in a time of 9:46.34. Cooper James added a first in the 800 meters (1:57.65), and the Storm had the top time in the 1,600 relay (3:27.64).

Poinciana senior Jerome Alexander ran third in the 110 hurdles (16.08) and placed third in the triple jump (41-2).

Elsewhere, George Jenkins High School hosted the 2022 Polk County Track and Field Championships last Friday where Haines City finished second in the girls’ standings with 69 points.

The Hornets won the 400-meter relay (50.35), while senior Kiera Taylor ran second in the 100 meters (12.31) and third in the 200 meters (25.57). Yasmin Randolph also went second in the discus (82-4) and third in the shot put (30-6.5) and Ashena McIntosh placed third in the triple jump (31-9.5).

On the boys side, Haines City’s Ethan Loriston clocked a runner-up time of 10.93 in the 100-meter dash. Payson Keown finished second in the 3,200 meters (10:14.51) and fourth in the 1,600 (4:56.89) and Djerry Cajuste was third in the triple jump (40-10.25) for the Hornets.

Ridge Community, Davenport and Ridgeview Global Studies Academy high schools attended the annual event, as well.

The Bolts’ Jakari Ward was the county champion in the boys’ 400 meters with a time of 48.93 seconds. Teammate Adrain Rogers also won the boys’ high jump (6-8 ¾) and took fourth in the long jump (21-6¼), Karina Pagan Ortiz of Ridge Community finished first in the girls’ 1,600 meters (6:23.66) for Division B and Jamyra Helms crossed third in the 100 meters (12.62).

Seth McWorter had fifth-place (17.43) and sixth-place (43.56) finishes in the boys’ 110 and 300 hurdle events, respectively, for Davenport High. The Broncos’ Alexis Anstadt went fifth in the shot put (29-9¼) and seventh in the discus (72-8) on the girls side.

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