By Sharon Aron Baron
Now in its 43rd year, the Sunshine State Games are the longest continuously-running State Games in the U.S.
The water polo Championships were held at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex from June 24-26, along with powerlifting in Margate, and fencing in Alachua.
Water Polo rivals Riptides Water Polo and South Florida Water Polo have long histories in the Games.
Riptides has six teams playing in the eight divisions, South Florida Water Polo has nine teams, including three in the Men’s Open Division.
One of the most consistent teams in the past ten years has been the Riptides Women’s Open team, coached by Carroll Vaughan. Besides a few handfuls of gold medals, the Women’s Open team featured Olympic-gold medal winner Ashleigh Johnson as recently as 2016.
On the 2022 Women’s Open team, Vaughan has another protégé in 16-year-old Gaby Montalvo, who has spent the last eight months playing on Olympic Development Program teams and was invited to play on the U.S. National Juvenile Team at an International Tournament in Athens, Greece, in August.
“She’s following in Ashleigh Johnson’s footsteps,” said Vaughan.
Montalvo began playing on the Riptides Women’s Open team with Vaughan at 15. As a member of the Gulliver Prep Girl’s Water Polo team, she gets a double dose of Vaughan’s tutelage.
According to her father, Mario Montalvo, her Olympic Development Program work has been going on for the last four or five years. Her latest process began last September when she was selected to play for a Florida Olympic Development team.
That led to a Southeast Region team spot and a spot on a 12-member National Tournament team in California. Finally, in May, she was invited to a National Team Selection Camp in Irvine, California.
Throw in a spot on the Puerto Rico Women’s Senior National Water Polo team to compete in the Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) Water Polo Challenger Cup in Barranquilla, Colombia October 2021. Puerto Rico won the bronze medal in the tournament with a 15-14 victory over Venezuela.
“That was my first international competition, and there’s a big difference,” she said. “The referees allow you to play a little more aggressive. I’m really looking forward to playing in Greece and representing Florida. I know I’ll be there based on my own skills and level of play.”
That’s a lot of water polo in the last nine months for the “Florida girl, or Miami girl,” as her national teammates know her.
On Saturday, Montalvo played four games at the Coral Springs Aquatic Complex. She played two games with the 16 and Under team and two with the Women’s Open team.
She was a vital part of the final two games of the day. The first, in the 16 and Under Division, was a 9-8 overtime loss against FEC, where she hit the top bar of the goal from the middle of the pool as time expired. She scored two goals in the Women’s Open team’s 12-7 win over South Florida Water Polo.
“That would have been an impressive shot,” Montalvo said of her last-second hurl. “I’ve been practicing that shot.”
Even with a two-hour afternoon weather delay, pool play wrapped up except for three Men’s Open Pool Play games, beginning at 7:00 a.m. Medal round games begin at 9:30 a.m. with the 12 and Under Coed Division and continue through 4:30 p.m. when the Boy’s 18 and Under Gold Medal game is played.
Powerlifting was held at Lift District Fitness in Margate, with athletes competing in the squat, bench press, and deadlift events. The Men’s Champion of Champions for Powerlifting (all three events) was Jhamali McCalla of Margate. Michael Jean earned the award for Push/Pull (bench press and deadlift), and the Bench Press Award winner was Darian Bryant of Sunrise.
Jean of Pembroke Pines had the highest Deadlift total with a 600-pound lift. It was a personal best for the well-over 300 pounds Jean. Christopher Kelly of Naples matched Jean’s 584-pound deadlift but was unsuccessful at 600.
The Women’s Champion of Champions for the Powerlifting was Paris Isley of Pembroke Pines. According to Powerlifting Sports Director, Robert Keller, Winning the Bench Press award was Angela Hong, from Davie, who, at 125 pounds, bench pressed 248 pounds, a world-class accomplishment.
For up-to-date results visit www.sunshnestategames.com/results.
- Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views, and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs and the rest of South Florida.
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