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Two veterans and a newbie

As Kari Stanford, Jacqulyn Seffern cap their careers, the fun's just starting for Beca Branch.

Published February 9, 2007


CRYSTAL RIVER - All it took was an introduction to weightlifting for three Crystal River athletes to get hooked.

Not even a coaching change could chase away the lifters, and all three are headed for the state finals Saturday in New Port Richey.

Seniors Jacqulyn Seffern and Kari Stanford are three-time state qualifiers. Sophomore Beca Branch qualified for the first time. The three were introduced to the sport by former coach Charles Brooks. When he stepped down as coach, it jostled the program some. The lifters had a little trouble getting used to the softer-spoken style of George Arscott.

But the lifters adjusted. Around 14 stuck with the team, and five took first-place finishes in 10 categories at the county meet. Seffern, Stanford and Branch each took first.

"Beca made good gains this year," Arscott said. "The other two were strong as could be coming in."

Seffern, in the 129-pound weight class, remembers what got her hooked. The first time she lay down to bench, she pressed up 105 pounds.

"I was excited," Seffern said. "I didn't know I could do that."

Since then, she has continued to push herself. Her goal is 320 pounds, but her personal record is 305 - that's a combined 135 in the bench and 170 in the clean and jerk.

No problem. Last year, she boosted her lift to 145 pounds to take second place in the 129-pound weight class.

"I don't think I've reached my full potential in clean and jerk," she said. "I think I can squeeze 10 more pounds out of it."

Stanford, in the 199-pound weight class, is expecting improvement after scratching last year at state. A bonus for Stanford is she recently figured out something with her grip that should keep her from scratching and make her more dangerous on the clean and jerk.

Her goal is to place in the top six, whatever that means numbers-wise. Stanford's personal best is a combined 320 - 160 in both the bench and the clean and jerk.

Stanford, who plays softball, likes weightlifting because she can focus on things alone.

"I love it because it's an individual sport," Stanford said. "You can do it on your own."

Branch, at the 101-pound weight class, started lifting, also at the urging of Brooks.

"He promised me I wouldn't look like a man," Branch said with a smile. "And it helped me a lot in cheerleading and gymnastics."

It also helped that Branch dominated dual meet competition. Medaling regularly was a thrill, and a motivation.

Branch's personal record is 200 - 100 in both the bench and the clean and jerk.

"I'm hoping to get any total over 200," Branch said.

Kellie Dixon can be reached at or 352 544-9480.

State finals

When: Saturday, 11 a.m.

Where: River Ridge High, New Port Richey

Admission: $6

County qualifiers:

Crystal River - Beca Branch (101-pound weight class); Jacqulyn Seffern (129); Kari Stanford (199)

Lecanto - Summer Dupler (129); Victoria Mele (154).



What they do: Lifters follow more rules than this, but here's the gist.

Bench press: Lifters lay down, their backs against the bench. With the bar lowered across their chest, they push it up and fully extend their arms. Lower. Repeat.

Clean and jerk: Lifters crouch down and lift the bar up to their chests. They rest it at this level for a moment before lifting it above their heads.

[Last modified February 8, 2007, 22:06:04]

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