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Bear captures third state title

Alaya Smiley claims another championship to lead Central to a second-place finish.

By CAREY FREEMAN, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 27, 2002


BELLEVIEW -- Hands clinched and pressed to her lips, Central's Alaya Smiley waited for Lake Brantley's Rebecca Sable to complete her final lift. If Sable, competing at 139 pounds, could hoist 175 pounds, then Smiley's two-year run as state champion would end. It was a long shot for Sable to succeed, but that didn't alleviate Smiley's concerns.

BELLEVIEW -- Hands clinched and pressed to her lips, Central's Alaya Smiley waited for Lake Brantley's Rebecca Sable to complete her final lift. If Sable, competing at 139 pounds, could hoist 175 pounds, then Smiley's two-year run as state champion would end. It was a long shot for Sable to succeed, but that didn't alleviate Smiley's concerns.

Her nervous moment didn't last long.

Sable failed on her final attempt and Smiley claimed her third consecutive title with a combined weight of 330 pounds -- 170 on the bench press and 160 on the power clean.

"I wanted to hold my title for three years in a row. I just wanted to keep it going," Smiley said. "I was slacking today and I thought I really didn't have it. (Sable) really worked hard. Not only did she beat my record from my freshman year, she almost beat me today. She's a really good athlete."

Smiley's effort -- along with second-place finishes by Tiffany Mobley (110 pounds) and Shanna Jagger (129), and a third-place finish by Elena Morales (110) -- helped the defending champion Bears claim second place with 21 points. But that wasn't close to the winning total posted by Winter Springs, which ran away with the team championship with a total of 44 points, including three individual champions.

Citrus finished in third place -- three spots better than last year -- behind the efforts of Whitney Gelin and Brittany Vitter, who claimed titles at 169 and 154 pounds. The Hurricanes also received a fourth-place finish from Jessica Acosta (110) and a fifth-place effort from Jessica Baum (129) to garner 19 points.

Keystone Heights and Sanford Seminole rounded out the top five with 16 points apiece.

Gelin and Vitter found themselves in situations similar to Smiley, watching as their closest competitors made futile attempts to top their totals. Vitter (310 total) led by five pounds when Palatka's Denease Russell failed to lift 180 pounds in the power clean.

Gelin trailed by 20 points after the bench press, but took the lead by hoisting 155 pounds in the power clean, 25 pounds more than Ocala Vanguard's Crystal Sollazzo. Gelin then watched as Seminole's Antonia Washington scratched on her final two tries with 165 pounds.

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