Strawberry Crest/Plant City Cheer: The teams were named co-Western Conference Champions in January before both teams took home a state championship the following month, with Crest claiming the FHSAA 2A Small CoEd Division for their cheer team’s eighth consecutive state championship and Plant City claiming the FHSAA 2A Small Non-Tumbling Divison for their first cheer state title in school history.
Plant City Unified Special Olympics Basketball: After two consecutive FHSAA state championships, Plant City’s Unified Special Olympics Basketball team – a program composed of Plant City High Schools Special Olympics athletes alongside their fellow general education Unified partners – once again reached the state title game, falling one win short of yet another gold medal. At the 2022 Special Olympics USA Games in Orlando this past fall, the team opened play 3-0 with wins over Oregon, Washington and Utah before taking home a bronze medal.
Strawberry Crest Baseball: Strawberry Crest baseball finished the 2022 season 20-9, claiming their fourth consecutive district championship en route to a regional finals appearance. Led by sluggers Ethan Pues (.349, 5 HR, 26 RBI), Alex Philpott (.233, 2 HR, 19 RBI), Zach Redner (.269, 2 HR, 18 RBI) and Eli Vickers (.309, 18 RBI), the Chargers hit .269 as a team while scoring just north of six runs per game. On the mound, Crest finished the year with a 2.80 ERA as a team behind stingy starters in Redner (8-1, 1.39 ERA) and Luke Richardson (6-2, 2.48) and strong relievers in Philpott (6 SV, 4.83) and Zach Vincent (1 SV, 3.23). Following the season, Redner, Pues and middle infielder RayAllen Vasquez were named first-team All-Western Conference for Hillsborough County’s National Division.
Durant Girls Basketball: After earning the district’s top seed on the heels of an 18-4 regular season, the Cougars earned a bye through the district quarterfinal round before cruising past Lakewood Ranch in the semifinal and claiming their first district championship since 2016-2017 with a thrilling 55-52 win over rival Newsome. The team’s success largely came on the back of their four star juniors, Maggie Lauber, Miani Mejia, Ki’Ajanae Gordon and Sophia Flair. All four girls averaged over 13 points per game this season, with Lauber leading the way with 17.5 points per game in addition to a team-high 3.6 assists per game. Flair’s 13.5 points per game and 9.5 rebounds per game left her just shy of averaging a double-double for the year. With a district championship and a regional quarterfinal appearance under their belt, Durant’s girls ultimately ended their season with a 20-5 record.
Durant Football: Durant football’s 8-3 record in 2022 marks their secondconsecutive eight-win season in the Cougars’ first two years under head coach Claybo Varnum after finishing 2021 at 8-3 as well, their highest single-season win total since going 8-3 in 2016. En route to another eight-win season, Durant finished the year with their second straight win over rival Plant City, their first win over rival Newsome since 2017, their first district championship since 2014 and their second consecutive playoff appearance. After losing starting quarterback Marcus Miguele to graduation last spring, the Cougars leaned on a sophomore transfer from Newsome in Mike Ryan, completing 54 percent of his passes for 1,655 yards and nine touchdowns while adding another 230 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Despite both dealing with injury, the running back duo of Calub Connell and Alex Daley combined for 18 total touchdowns while senior Jeremiah Gines led all receivers with six touchdowns and 773 receiving yards, good for a team-high 85.9 receiving yards per game. Hale Sollmann and Greg Smith each led the Cougars’ front seven with 13 tackles for loss each while defensive lineman Ty Merkle paced the unit with 4.5 sacks and middle linebacker Jacob Reed led the unit with 8.9 total tackles per game, all ahead of an experienced defensive backfield with Jayden Cornelius, Xavier Peavy, Jayden Forte, Luther Scarlett, Zaevion Jordan and Gines in rotation, combining for 19 takeaways, with 14 interceptions and five fumble recoveries.
Plant City Track and Field: Plant City Track and Field put together a stellar 2022 campaign, finishing the year with one county champion, 14 district champions, 23 regional qualifiers and state qualifiers in Kaden Mizell, their boys 4 x 100 meter relay team (Ian Jolly, Jae Sawyer, Reggie Bush, Romello Jones) and girls 4 x 100 meter relay team (Makenzie Holmes, Makayla Holmes, Jalayah Shaw, Erica Holloman). As a team, Plant City finished as runners up at the district meet behind only George Jenkins High School.
Strawberry Crest Swim: A year after the Strawberry Crest’s girls swim team won the school’s first district championship in swimming, Strawberry Crest took home both the boys and girls district titles this year. For the boys, they were able to come away on top of the eight-team district on the heels of three bronze medals, six silver medals and two gold medals. For the girls, it was an even more dominant performance with four bronze medals, five silver medals and seven gold medals. On the boys’ side, Josiah Tan earned bronze in both the 100-yard butterfly and the 200-yard individual medley, Kristian Walker earned silver in both the 200-yard and 500-yard freestyle, Noah Jones earned gold in the 200-yard individual medley and silver in the 100-yard backstroke and Hubert Pilichowski earned silver in the 200-yard individual medley and gold in the 100-yard breaststroke. And on the girls’ side, Emmy Hamilton earned gold in both the 50-yard and the 100-yard freestyle, Saige Starford earned gold in the 200-yard freestyle and silver in the 100-yard freestyle, Bailey Scott earned gold in both the 500-yard freestyle and the 200-yard individual medley, Mimi Bitting earned silver in both the 500-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly, Michaela Walker earned silver in the 100-yard breaststroke and bronze in the 100-yard butterfly, Alex Ball earned silver in the 200-yard individual medley, Jillian Starford earned bronze in the 200-yard freestyle and Chin Hargewar earned bronze in the 200-yard individual medley. In addition to their individual medals, the boys took silver in the 200-yard medley relay and 400-yard freestyle relay and bronze in the 200-yard freestyle relay while the girls took gold in the 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay and bronze in the 400-yard freestyle relay. Following regionals, Strawberry Crest had two swimmers qualify for the state meet in Saige Starford and Pilichowski.