2024 Florida Senior Games, December, 2-15, Florida's Sports Coast/Pasco County

The Florida Senior Games Gold Medal Winning Performance That Almost Wasn’t
The FSG daily wrapup, courtesy of SilverSneakers®

Mark Robinson’s gold medal performance in the 2023 Florida Senior Games, presented by Humana, 40K Road Race almost didn’t happen.

He made it to the starting line at San Antonio Elementary School about 30 seconds before the starting gun.

“When my alarm went off, I meant to hit snooze but turned the alarm off,” he said. “I overslept by an hour.”

Luckily, Robinson had everything packed and ready to go and sprang into action for his drive from DeBary. Then there was a detour when he neared San Antonio Elementary School.

He made it and turned in the top overall time of the 40K Road Race, crossing the finish line in 1:12:50.49. He was 48 seconds ahead of the next finisher, Timothy Ballenger, of The Villages. His time won the gold medal in the 60-64 age group.

“I went off in the front of the group and was able to hold the lead,” Robinson said. “Usually, the pack catches up with you, but I was able to hold them off.”

He also scored a win against a rival in his 60-64 age group, Erick Eckstrom, from Ludington, MI, who crossed the finish line four seconds ahead of Robinson at the 2023 National Senior Games in the 40K Road Race to win a bronze medal.

“There were some good riders out there today,” he said. “I gave it everything I had in the first race and came in sixth in the 20K Race. I’m very happy with winning the first race.”

Ekstrom was the top overall finisher in the 20K Road Race with a time of 37:49.02.

Kimberly Besuden, of Clermont, and Kay Carver, of The Villages, swapped top overall finishes in the 20 and 40K Races. Besuden was the top overall finisher in the 20K Road Race and Carver was the top women’s finisher in the 40K Race. Both races were decided by less than a second.

In the Basketball Shooting competition, Darlene Ledsinger, of Yulee, was the top overall women’s shooter in Free Throw, Spot Field Goal and Timed Field Goal Shooting. Ledsinger hit 26 of 30 free throws, 11 of 15 spot field goals and tallied 102 points in the timed field goal shooting.

Among the men’s Basketball Shooters, William Oliver, of Reunion, hit 29 of 30 free throws and 12 of 15 spot field goals to be the top overall shooter in those categories. Harry Carothers, of Pinellas Park, hit a combined 24 three point field goals in three one-minute intervals, to win the 80-84 age group, and posted the top Timed Field Goal Shooting total among all men.

EJ Tarpey, of Vero Beach, was honored as the 2022 Florida Senior Games Male Athlete of the Year, between the Basketball Shooting and 3-on-3 Basketball competition. He matched William Oliver’s Free Throw total hitting 29 of 30 from the line.

In 3-on-3 Basketball, Tarpey’s 55-59 age group GZR Nation team scored 274 points in three games to win the gold medal. GZR National averaged 91.7 points per game on its way to the gold medal.

At the Temple Terrace Aquatic Center, eight Florida Senior Games age group records were broken. Those posting a pair of new record-setting times were Jeanne Hackett, of The Villages (50 breast, 100 back), Dewey Haviland, of The Villages (200 free, 400 IM), Michael Aubrey, of Wilton Manors (50 breast, 100 back) and Michael Smith, of Tampa (50 breast, 100 back)

For those pulling the string back from the bow to shoot at targets from 60, 50 and 40 yards, six Archery age group records were broken, four men and two women. Leonard Brunotte, of Rockledge, established an Olympic Recurve record in the 85-89 age group, with a score of 643. He also holds the 80-84 age group in the event.

Three women’s bowlers earned a pair of gold medals in Women’s and Mixed Doubles Bowling at Pin Chasers, in Zephyhills. Melanie May, of The Villages, teamed with Kyle Kilga, also from The Villages, to win the women’s doubles 60-64 age group and paired with Charles Novak, from The Villages, to win the mixed doubles gold. Their combined score of 1272 was the highest among all mixed teams.

Ginger Barbacovey teamed with Theda Hicks to win the women’s doubles 65-69 age group. Barbacovey and Hicks combined score of 1174 was the top women’s doubles score. She won the Mixed 65-69 age group with Al Crockett. Barbacovey and her gold medal winning teammates are all from the Pensacola area. Janet Romig, from Osprey, paired with Sandra Kelly, of Port Richey, to win the women’s doubles 70-74 age group and won the mixed gold with her husband, Michael Romig, in the 75-79 age group.

Day two of the 2023 Florida Senior Games features six sports in six different locations.

Schedule for Sunday, December 2
Cycling (5K and 10K Time Trials) – Florida Polytechnical University, Lakeland; 8:00 a.m. start time.
Tennis (M/W Singles) – Sarah Vande Berg Tennis Center, Zephyrhills; 9:00 a.m. start time
Volleyball (Men) – Wiregrass Ranch Sports Campus, Wesley Chapel; 9:00 a.m. start time Racquetball – David Posnack Jewish Community Center, Davie; 9:00 a.m. start time
Swimming – Temple Terrace Family Recreation Complex; 10:00 a.m. start time
Bowling (M/W Singles) – Pin Chasers, Zephyrhills; 10:00 a.m. start time
Bowling (Team) – Pin Chasers, Zephyrhills; 2:00 p.m. start time

The 2023 Florida Senior Games is an annual program of the Florida Sports Foundation, the official sports promotion and development organization of the State of Florida, presented in conjunction with Florida’s Sports Coast and SilverSneakers®.