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Freshman Ashley Anderton guides Zephyrhills to its second conference crown in three years.
By MIKE TOMPKINS
Published January 21, 2005
NEW PORT RICHEY - Coach Joe Rinaldo and Zephyrhills entered Thursday's Sunshine Athletic Conference weightlifting meet at River Ridge looking for respect. They walked away with a conference title.
Zephyrhills (55 points) won by 24 points, with River Ridge, Ridgewood and Pasco all tying for second with 31. The Bulldogs last won the SAC in 2003 under Pam Melms.
"This is 364 days in the making," said Rinaldo, a second-year coach. "We faced some adversity (Thursday). We had one girl scratch out and one girl not make weight. I thought that was going to open the door for someone else, but the girls were hungry.
"They worked hard. There are no words to explain this. I've never won a championship as a coach before. I don't know how to feel. I'm happy for them." Mitchell came in fifth with 26 points, followed by Wesley Chapel (14), Gulf (13), Hudson (12) and Land O'Lakes (7).
Pasco senior Crystal Bates (139) continued her dominance by winning her third straight conference title. It was her fourth SAC selection overall. Her 295 total defeated River Ridge's Lauren Douglas by 45 pounds and tied for the meet high with Zephyrhills champion Ashley Anderton (UNL). Bates' bench press of 165 was the meet high by 15 pounds.
"This is kind of fun, but I really don't have any motivation," said Bates, who was driven into weightlifting by five older brothers, two of whom lifted for Pasco. "States isn't that big of a deal anymore. Maybe when I was a freshman. I guess I keep doing it because I have fans that I want to keep happy."
Anderton's 295 total was a personal best. In winning her class by 50 pounds, the freshman's performance was the high point for Zephyrhills, and a sign of the future.
"The freshman phenom," Rinaldo said. "Every day, every meet she gets better. She's just that dangerous. It's just awesome to think of what she's going to do two or three years from now."
Other individual winners were Ridgewood's Rachel Partlow (101) and Meagan Settman (169), Zephyrhills' Lauren Vollmer (110), Pasco's Kaci Wubbena (119) and Beta Ferguson (154), Mitchell's Leah Tsagaris (129), Hudson's Devon Fodi (183) and River Ridge's Michelle Miller (199).