Area teams find FHSAA-sanctioned state final difficult, with Pasco the top finisher at 16th.
By KEITH NIEBUHR
Published February 8, 2004
DELAND - When girls weightlifting became a Florida High School Athletic Association state series sport this season, it finally secured the recognition competitors had longed for. But for North Suncoast schools, this newfound status came at a price.
The proof is in the standings.
At Saturday's first FHSAA-sanctioned state final, only one area squad - Pasco - placed a competitor in the top six in one of the 10 weight divisions. The Pirates, behind Crystal Bates' third-place showing at 129 pounds, tied for 16th.
"It was significantly tougher this year," Citrus coach Doug Patton said.
Last season, lifters qualified for the unofficial state meet by reaching standards in each weight class during the regular season. This season, 116 schools were divided into nine sections.
Lifters had to finish in the top three of a weight class at the section meet. Those fortunate to advance faced a field significantly tougher than in past seasons. Patton's squad placed fourth in 2003 and had two individual champions. The Hurricanes' best finish Saturday was eighth.
"The difference isn't so much at the top end," Patton said. "It's the overall depth."
Bates was by far the area's top performer. The junior bench pressed a division-best 170 pounds and cleaned 140 for a 310 total, 15 pounds behind the champion. She was second last season.
"I wasn't in the mood to clean warming up," Bates said. "I didn't feel like I was going to do well. I'm a little disappointed, but I heard both the girls ahead of me are seniors, so I'm going to work extra hard."
The area's other top finishes came from Stephanie Bass of Citrus (eighth, 169), Leann Carroll of Zephyrhills (ninth, 101), Gina Fredrickson of River Ridge (seventh, 139), Dolnapa Jotram of Pasco (10th, 119), Maggie Lanigan of Citrus (10th, 154), Megan Ryan of Springstead (seventh, 119), Amber Wegener of Hudson (10th, 101) and Mindy Zavesky of Central (seventh, 110). Bass and Ryan were five pounds short of medaling.
Sara Lavertu of Lecanto and Racheal Reed of Crystal River provided proof there is more to the sport than meets the eye.
Lavertu, a junior in the 199 division, was 15 minutes late for weighin after the car in which she was riding had a flat tire. Panthers coach Dick Slack successfully appealed to the FHSAA.
But Lavertu's excitement turned to disappointment when she went too heavy on the bench and scratched. "It was stressful," she said. "But I had fun and I'm happy I made it."
Reed, a sophomore and one of the top seeds at 110, jogged 4 miles Friday after realizing she weighed 114 pounds. At Saturday's weighin, despite her best efforts (she jogged more in the morning), Reed came in at 110.6 pounds and could not compete.