Earlier this week, some of the fall sports at Bartow High School had finished their regular season and moved on to tournament play. Many of the athletes on these teams will revert back to focusing on studies or perhaps moving their skills to another sport in the winter or spring periods.
Cross country will be participating in the county meet later this week with the district meet to follow in early November. The varsity football season will extend into November, but the junior varsity will play their final game tomorrow.
The winter sports are well in motion as the schedules have been produced and tryouts have been held for the activities that will begin in the next few weeks. Many of the athletes that were not involved in fall sports have been well into training for their upcoming season. For the most part, the coaching staff from the previous season will be in place. The lone exception is girls soccer, which is the sport that kicks off the season, playing earlier than the rest of the sports.
The girls soccer team will be coached by Ben Braaten. If the name is familiar, you have been paying attention to Bartow High School sports. Braaten is the athletic director this season, but his extensive coaching experience came to the fore as a vacancy developed for this sport. Braaten’s most recent coaching experience was the girls soccer program at Lakeland High School last year, so he won’t be missing a beat. He already had familiarity with the BHS girls program from the head-to-head meetings.
The girls soccer program will be first to hit the field with their opening match on the road next Tuesday (Oct. 30) against Ridge. They open the home season on Thursday, Nov. 1 going against Kathleen.
There were will be five home matches in November and three in December. After the long holiday break, the team will close its regular season with a home match on Jan. 10 against Lake Wales. District play will be held at Bryant Stadium in Lakeland. Bartow will field a junior varsity and varsity team for most of the dates.
Coach Matt Cooper will again be leading the boys soccer program with junior varsity joining the evening for 15 of the 20 contests. The boys team will open with a pair of road games before facing off in their first home contact on Thursday, Nov. 8 against the Dreadnaughts of Lakeland. That game starts a stretch where six of the next eight matches are home contests. The final home match will be played against Mulberry on Jan. 9 (varsity only), though there will be two road games before district play.
The 2012-13 wrestling squad will be kept busy under the watch of coach Vince Tolley. With few home matches, the grapplers open the year with the Classic, a triangular meet where Bartow hosts Kathleen and Ridge on Nov. 9. The JV team will have the Lakeland tournament up early on the schedule with the junior varsity squad participating in five tournaments through the course of the season. The varsity squad will be travelling as far as Cocoa and Zephyrhills with plenty of action in Polk County, easy travel for local fans. Home matches include a duel with Sebring on Dec. 13 and senior night against Mulberry on Jan. 17. District matches will take place at Lake Gibson with the state finals at the Lakeland Center.
Coach Richard Murvin’s Lady Jackets varsity basketball team is scheduled to open with the Tip-Off Classic in Sebring on Nov. 6 and 8, starting several road games to open the year. The Lady Jackets take the home floor for the first time as they host the Thanksgiving Shootout, a tournament with 12 teams coming to the Hive for holiday action. The tournament starts at noon on the day after Thanksgiving with Bartow playing against The Rock at 7:30 p.m. On the following day, Bartow will again have the late game, facing off against Harmony High School. Other teams expected to play include Lake Wales, Lake Region and Kathleen. Bartow will have two more home games in November, three in December and three in January before the post-season play.
The season will start for the Bartow High School boys basketball team on Nov. 13 at the Dr. Phillips tip-off, playing against the host team.
Tournaments provide a key complement to the regular season schedule as Bartow will spend November with some round robin play. Bartow will be part of the Metro vs. Florida Challenge and Hoop Mountain Challenge. They will have home games on Dec. 18 (Haines City) and Dec. 21 (George Jenkins) before heading to Atlanta on Dec. 26 to compete in the Converse Invitational Classic.
The January schedule features six home games, including senior night on Jan. 28 against Mulberry. The annual Mosaic Shootout presented by Under Armour & BrightHouse Sports Network starts at the Hove on Feb. 1.