The 2023 East County sports calendar looks to be stacking up.
Can we say the same thing every year? Maybe, but it’s a product of how the area has become rich in talent and events over the past few years. , it’s easy to take for granted everything this area has to offer.
You shouldn’t. It’s a great sports community with a wide variety of services and lots to put on your calendar.
The 2023 US Rowing Masters National Championships will return to Nathan Benderson Park August 10-13. If you attended his 2022 event, which saw more than 775 of his rowers from 96 clubs across the country, you know this is an event not to be missed.
At last year’s event, I told the story of people like Elliott Vasquez. Elliot Vazquez lost his athleticism and sensation below his T5/T6 area of the spine, but he persevered and became a rower, winning gold in the PR1 Men’s Masters 1x. Final (8:11.99). We hope to tell more stories like that from the 2023 event.
The 2023 US Rowing Youth Nationals will also be held at the park for the sixth year in a row. No exact date has been set, but it will be held in the summer.
The 5th edition of the LECOM Suncoast Classic will be held in the new year. As always, this is one of the events I look forward to the most. The schedule has changed from February to April. Somehow, each year brings a more dramatic ending than the last.
In the 2022 event, Michael Gellerman missed his putt for the second time in a row, handing the title to Byun Hung Ahn. Whatever the 2023 event is, it will always be great. Many thanks to the organizers of the event and to Kohn his ferry his tours for introducing us here.
We also look forward to covering many more events at the new UMR Sports facility. UMR has pristine beach volleyball and pickleball courts and plans to open a baseball/softball training facility in 2023. UMR also hosts other more relaxed events featuring cornhole and spikeball, like the New Year’s Eve party held on December 31st. in that product. If you haven’t seen the facility, we encourage you to check out our website to find an event that interests you.
We don’t have specific dates yet, but we always look forward to the football games between Braden River High and Lakewood Ranch High. Not only are the feelings between the two programs (and the two fanbases) always tense, but I think 2023 could be the year that the series turns the tide.
The Pirates haven’t lost to Lakewood Ranch since 2013, but with Braden River having a slump year, the Mustangs have returned Clayton Deeds as quarterback for his senior season (and second at varsity level). So at least the game worked. It has the potential to be more competitive than ever before.
Every year, athletes participate in state track and field competitions. His two successful runners, ODA’s Tristan McWilliam and Lakewood Ranch High’s Grace Marston, graduated in 2022 and were the only medalists in the East County region last spring. If anyone were to step up, it would be a more niche event like pole vaulting. Last year, ODA’s Tyler Beck finished his sixth (13 feet, 3.5 inches) in class 1A in the state. If not, will there be a state champion-level long jumper in the region this year? Discus Master? Javelin Throw Title Candidate? We’ll find out in May.
After winning back-to-back state titles, the Lakewood Ranch High Softball team will seek a third straight title this spring under a new coach. TJ Goertz has stepped down after the 2022 season and was replaced by former Mustangs junior national team coach Todd Lee. Lee retained key assistant coaches Paulo Reis and Craig Toller, while the Mustangs added Class 7A Player of the Year Ella Dodge and junior pitcher and do-it-all senior outfielder Cassidy. There are many talents, such as McClellan.
The Mustangs are confident they will have another strong regular season, but the real intrigue begins in the postseason. Can Lakewood Ranch win 3-3?I don’t know, but I’m not betting on this team.
We are also looking forward to seeing you all. Since joining Beat in 2016, 2022 has received more story ideas and athlete of the week suggestions than any other year. Remember that not only is the suggestion itself helpful, but people still read sports news and features. The people of East County have always been knowledgeable and helpful, so I shouldn’t be surprised.
For all these reasons and more, 2023 should be another great time on the East County sports beat.