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Pine Crest's Vreeland Earns All-American Honors At Junior Olympics

Sharon BlockSFHSSports: Twitter | Facebook

Pine Crest track standout Simone Vreeland, representing Broward Elite Athletic Club, finished sixth and earned All-American honors for the second consecutive year at the recent USA Track and Field Junior Olympics at Sacramento (Calif.) State.

Vreeland, despite a nasty fall, made the medal podium in the 2,000-meter steeplechase in a best time of 7:28.28. It was the fastest time by a Floridian this year, shaving 18 seconds off her previous best time.

It was only the third time the distance runner has competed in the steeplechase.

"I was really proud of Simone how well she handled the schedule change and delay putting the race after 10 p.m.," said Pine Crest coach Paul Baur. "She ran well but took a nasty spill over the water barrier. She got up and never let that tough fall and people passing her stop her from getting those spots back."

Two other Pine Crest and Broward Elite athletes finished among the Top 20.

Jumper Tony Bridges placed ninth in the triple jump in 46 feet and 2.5 inches. Bridges, 17, one of the youngest in the field, was seeded 13th.

After the results were posted, Bridges received congratulatory emails from his jumps coaches and Olympians Fabian Florant and Aubrey Smith getting ready to compete in Rio de Janeiro.

"Tony improved on each jump in the triple jump and would have made the finals but USATF only took eight to the finals instead of the normal nine," Bridges said. "Regardless, only being 17 and competing against many athletes who are 18 and preparing for college and still finish ninth out of 47 jumpers is a huge accomplishment."

Distance runner Michael Kennedy was 17th in the 3,000 meters in 9:28.58, also a best time. Kennedy was seeded 26th in the field of 40 national-caliber runners.

"Michael ran an aggressive race and also had a huge PR," Baur said. "It was great to give him the chance to run in such a big meet like this so he will be even more prepared for this upcoming cross country season."

Archbishop McCarthy rising senior Madison (Madi) Malone, also of Broward Elite, earned two All-American honors. The top eight finishers earn All-American honors.

Malone finished fifth in the discus with a personal best throw of 136 feet, 3 inches. She was seeded tenth.

She also had a personal best in the hammer with a throw of 137 feet, 4 inches to finish eighth for another All-American honor. Malone has only been competing in the hammer for two months.

Malone was also 16th in the shot put with another personal best of 38 feet, ¼ inch. She was seeded 34th.

"Madi did outstanding to earn All-American honors in two events," Baur said. "She was down to the final throw and needed a big one and had a huge PR to make it to the finals in third place nonetheless and finished fifth, but still huge for her."

Miami Northwestern's De-Aria Smith of South Dade Express Track Club and Aaliayah Fisher of American are among several Dade and Broward athletes competing in this week's AAU Junior Olympic Games at Humble (Tex.) High School's Turner Stadium.

WATER POLO

Stefano Dioguardi, 18, a water polo player for South Florida Water Polo Club for five years, died Friday at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital after a lengthy battle with cancer.

Two days after his 18th birthday, Dioguardi was diagnosed with Ewing's Carcinoma, a form of cancer in his pelvis. The South Florida water polo community and friends rallied around the Dioguardi family and raised more than $40,000 in the past year to help with medical costs.

He trained with South Florida Aquatic Club and competed for Pembroke Pines Charter during the high school swim and water polo seasons and was going to attend Florida Atlantic University.

"He was a boy who always had a smile on his face and was ready to support and help everyone," said longtime SFWPC and St. Thomas Aquinas coach Michael Goldenberg.

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