Winter Winners!

With AHS winning hundreds of championships from district, state, and nationals, it’s no surprise that some of Apopka’s girls sports teams were eying championships of their own. Varsity Cheer, Girls Wrestling, and Girls Soccer are all the groups that won this season. 

Girls wrestling participated in the District Wrestling Tournament at Ocoee High School, where they competed against 17 other schools, earning runner up! Apopka had six first place finishes out of 14 weight classes, which was more than any other team who was taking Gold. During Regional Wrestling Championship at Osceola high school, the players finished 3rd place out of 52 schools, with 5 wrestlers qualifying for The Florida High School State Girls Wrestling Championship. Nehemie Gregoire was 1st place, Jada Jones 2nd, Shelby Sherman 2nd, Samantha Sherman 3rd, and Hananeel Gregoire placed 4th. They were lead by Head Coach Bruce McMillian, and Assistant Coach Janice Pedroza. The State Wrestling Championship for girls will be on March 2nd, 3rd and 4th, at Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee.                                

Girls Varsity soccer won their away playoff game against West Point by 4-1, sending them to the Regional Quarterfinals. Unfortunately, they lost in the semi-finals, but it was to the number one team in the nation. Varsity cheer won their FCHAA competition.

When asked what their biggest challenge during competition was, most players commented on their performance. “My biggest challenge in wrestling is getting tired easily, so I don’t warm up before my matches. My heart is already pumping, and I try to overcome it by taking my time so that I won’t get tired as fast. I know I need to start picking up my pace and getting used to that by running more during practice and by myself,” said Jada Jones, who ranked 1st place in the 190-pound weight class. Her teammate, Nehemie Gregoire, who ranked 1st place in the 135-pound category, also stated a similar answer, saying, “My biggest thing doing wrestling is I get tired quickly. My endurance is really bad. During practice I try to wrestle for the whole 6 minutes to increase my endurance.”

Other players would cite that being mentally prepared is their biggest obstacle. “I think my biggest challenge is just being mentally prepared. Sometimes I tend to not take things seriously,” stated varsity soccer player Emma Linnartes. 

For Varsity Cheerleader, Senior, Nicole Lee, this was especially important because she suffered a knee injury. “It affected me mentally throughout the season, especially with the long practices.” 

Despite the differences of what they would deem as most challenging, all the players mentioned their team when asked what kept them motivated or what factors were most beneficial to their success. “Just seeing the team and the goals that we wanted to reach, I wanted to reach them with the team. Just staying consistent with practice and not losing help. Just being happy with everybody and continuing to work hard,” said Emma. 

Junior Alani Ezzai, who is in Varsity Cheer, stated, “My bases were definitely most beneficial because I’m a flier. They help me push to my limits.” 

Nicole added, “Freshman through Junior year, my mindset was ‘Do it for the Seniors,’ this year I was the Junior so my mindset was ‘Do it for myself.’ I’d say my support, my coach, my mom, my friends.”

When interviewing the coaches, they had nothing but positive feedback about the girls and their season. Ms. Bercegeay, the Varsity Cheer coach, stated “I am feeling extremely blessed to have had the best group of girls to work with this year. It was an exciting season with lots of goals that were achieved. I couldn’t have asked for a better season. It will be hard to top this one, We celebrated our wins with mini dance parties in our cheer room during practices to help encourage the girls to set new goals and work harder at the next competition. We will also celebrate our wins during our end of year banquet with food, music, dancing and awards. This will be a culmination of all of their hard work this season and how they exceeded their goals.”

The Varsity Soccer coach Ms. Perrine, replied, “Our team has become a true team. We have a bunch of girls from various clubs. They have now evolved as The APK instead of identifying themselves by their club. They worked, they have corrected. They have stayed positive and they have respected each other.”

To encourage other athletes, each of the girls gave out advice. 

Hailey Odell – “Don’t give up if you don’t hit it once. Just keep trying because it’ll eventually happen.”

Nicole Lee – “My advice is to make every practice count. You know how everyone says ‘practice how you play’ I believe that to be true and being a senior I’m definitely going to miss this long practice. Just to work hard and appreciate your sport.”

Emma Linartas – “I’d say, just take care of your body, eat right, train, do what your coach tells you. And if something hurts, listen to your pain.”

Nehemie Gregoire – “Stay the course. Quitting is forever, pain is temporary.”

Jada Jones – “My advice would be even at your lowest and when you think that you should stop that’s when you have to try your hardest to keep going or otherwise you won’t get to where you want to be.”

Alani Ezzai – “To continue on keeping hope of the outcome you’re going to receive. It’s just motivating yourself to keep going to get the outcome that you want to receive.”