The Rundown

The Rundown

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The Rundown

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He wouldn’t be the first to accomplish the feat — not even on his own campus.

But Lincoln High swimmer Scott Fortier knows he can join a pretty exclusive club this fall if he can close out his career by winning Big Bend Athlete of the Year honors for a fourth consecutive year.

Last school year, three area athletes accomplished the feat — Leon’s Delaney Dye (girls’ diving), Lincoln’s Alex Merritt (girls’ swimming) and Leon’s Josh Record (boys’ tennis). Fortier shared Athlete of the Year honors in 2011 after winning it outright as a freshman and sophomore.

“That excites me a little. It does,” Fortier said. “But I’m more looking forward to focusing on college. I want to make sure my times are good enough for college. My best events aren’t really high-school events, so I need to focus on junior nationals.”

Fortier competed in the 200 individual medley and 500 freestyle at last year’s Class 3A state meet. He thinks he will drop the IM this year and swim the 200 free and 500 free.

In college, he said he will probably swim the 200 butterfly, 400 IM and 500 free. The 200 fly and 400 IM are not sanctioned events at the FHSAA state meet.

But before Fortier focuses full-time on the high-school season — and his college preparations — he can afford to share a smile or two from a busy summer that saw him compete at the U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha, Neb.

Fortier swam the 200 butterfly, winning his heat and shaving 1.5 seconds off his personal-best time. He placed 52nd overall, a remarkable 90 spots better than his seeding.

“It was crazy — the meet,” Fortier said. “It was awesome. I can’t really describe the feeling of being at that pool.

“Getting up behind the blocks, seeing the giant jumbotron, and then winning my heat and seeing my face on the jumbotron in front of thousands of people. It was incredible. Best experience of my life.”

Fortier said he was a big fan of the free smoothies and chocolate milk provided free to the competing athletes.

He also got his first taste of just how slim the margin of victory is at one of the fastest swim meets in the world. He finished four seconds behind Michael Phelps in the prelims.

“I was 17 years old and just happy to be there,” Fortier said. “I didn’t care about winning. I got a best time, and I felt like I had won the whole meet.”

Soggy footballs

Wakulla coach Scott Klees didn’t want to see any more rain. Why? He can’t afford it.

Wakulla and Franklin counties remain soaked from the more than 20 inches of rainfall dropped by Tropical Storm Debby in June. Florida’s summer thunderstorm cycle hasn’t helped either and, of course, Tropical Storm Isaac has only added to the area’s soggy misery.

While the War Eagles haven’t missed any significant practice time due to weather, rain has ruined 18 game footballs.

“All 18 are waterlogged and probably weigh 25 pounds each,” Klees said.

Klees, in fact, has had to hide his remaining game footballs for Friday’s home opener against Panama City Mosely.

The best I ever saw

Each week, we will ask a local sports figure a simple question: Who is the best athlete you’ve ever seen in the Big Bend area?

Former Godby football coach Shelton Crews was the first to answer the question this week.

“The best athlete I ever saw was Eric Turral,” Crews said.

“Any time the ball came his way he had a chance of doing something with it. Whether it was returning an interception for a touchdown, a punt or kick return for a touchdown, or catching a pass or taking a handoff — you always knew that he was going to make a play of some sort. It was just a matter of when.”

Turral graduated from Godby in 1989. Miller graduated from Leon in 1984.

Road Trip

North Florida Christian junior pitcher Carson Sands, a member of the 18U National Team, started Team USA’s second exhibition game against Chinese Taipei on Sunday in Taichung, Taiwan.

Sands, a Florida State commitment, went 2 1/3 innings in the 7-2 defeat.

The left-hander allowed consecutive singles to start the game but wiggled out of the jam. He wasn’t as fortunate in the second inning, allowing a one-out RBI single after a walk and single put Chinese Taipei runners on the corners.

After retiring the first batter in the third inning, Sands ran into trouble. He loaded the bases on hit-by-pitch, single and walk and was lifted for a reliever.

Team USA, which went 0-1-1 in the three-game exhibition series, opens the IBAF Junior AAA/18U World Championships today in Seoul, South Korea. Team USA opens pool play with games against Australia, Netherlands, Korea, Colombia and Venezuela.

Road Trip II

Stefanie Kurgatt couldn’t have asked for a better summer.

The Maclay cross country/track standout traveled to Puerto Rico, where the senior competed in the Caribbean Invitational and New Balance Nationals. Kurgatt won both of her races — 2:14 in the 800 and 4:40 in the 1500 — made new friends and left with incredible memories.

“It’s the best experience I’ve had, being around athletes from around the world,” said Kurgatt, the Marauders’ team captain since her sophomore season. ‘It was incredible.”

Kurgatt and her teammates are preparing for the upcoming cross country season, which officially opens Saturday, Sept. 8, with the Lion’s Roar Invite at Apalachee Regional Park. It will be a good test for runners on a difficult course that will also host the FHSAA State Finals for all classifications in November.

Kurgatt, a Division-I recruit, was the first female finisher in last Saturday’s Miller Landing Madness (5K). Kurgatt was fifth overall at 19:12. Lincoln senior Joe Garcia won the event at 16:32.

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