HUDSON - When it comes to high school weightlifting, strength comes from more than just muscles. It comes from numbers as well.
That was never more evident than at Wednesday's Sunshine Athletic Conference meet, where the only two teams with all 20 lifters finished first and second. Zephyrhills, fresh off a "wake-up call" in last week's region qualifier at South Sumter, won three weight classes en route to 49 points and their second straight conference title.
It was the Bulldogs' third championship in the past four years. Ridgewood won two weight classes and finished with 35 points, one better than third-place River Ridge. It was the second year in a row the neighboring teams finished close; they were part of a three-way tie for second in last year's meet. River Ridge carried close to a full squad, with 17 girls lifting.
"These girls just love being part of a winning program," third-year coach Joe Rinaldo said. "I get a lot of girls who can't play other sports and they excel in this one. It's just a great group."
Zephyrhills sophomore Ashley Anderton won her second straight title, but first at 199 after winning in the unlimited class last year. Her total of 285, though 10 pounds lower than last year's, won her weight class by 80 pounds.
Teammate Leann Carroll, with a total of 225, won the 110-pound title by 30 points. Lauren Vollmer (119) also won her second straight title with a 5-pound win, but first in a different weight class. Last year's champion at 110, Vollmer was lifting in her first meet at 119 after a coaching decision took her from her usual spot. Sensing Vollmer and Carroll would finish 1-2 at 110, Rinaldo decided to move Vollmer up to accumulate more points. The gamble paid off.
Mitchell's Leah Tsagaris (129) and Ridgewood's Meghan Seltman (169) also were repeat winners. Other individual winners included River Ridge's Brianna Hooker (101), Hudson's Bryttani Stewart (139) and Heather Paone (154), and Mitchell's Cristin McCarthy (UNL).
Land O'Lakes' Andrea Hay won the 183-pound title with a meet-high and school-record total of 320. Her 160-pound clean and jerk also was a school record; her 160-pound bench press fell 5 pounds short.