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'Caveman' is hungry for a title


© St. Petersburg Times, published April 19, 2001

BROOKSVILLE -- As far as competitive weightlifting goes, Saturday is Sam Forrester's last hurrah.

For the one known around the weight room as 'Caveman,' the Class A state meet in Bell is something he has looked forward to for more than a year.

As a sophomore, he missed qualifying by 35 pounds and hit the weights hard, improving enough to win the county title as a junior. He broke his hand in that meet, however, which kept him from competing in the season's final meet. Since he had qualified, Forrester made the trip anyway, just to get a look at the competition and make himself a little hungrier to get there as a senior.

"Looking at the results, I probably would have placed somewhere between 15th and 20th," Forrester said Wednesday after a workout at Hernando. Forrester, who competed in the heavyweight class last year, noticed that many of the state's biggest lifters were just that: big. Knowing he couldn't make his 300-pound foes any lighter, he set a goal instead to drop down a weight class. To compete in the 238-pound ranks, he would need to shed about 20 pounds from his football playing weight.

"I ran a lot, ate a more balanced diet," said Forrester, who weighed in at 234 pounds at last month's conference meet, taking any weight advantage away from his opponents.

Forrester won his class at conference, matching Springstead's Justin Matejka for the overall title with a combined 570 pounds in his bench press and clean-and-jerk. That left one goal, and one meet.

The top three lifters in each weight class receive medals, and the next three go home with ribbons. Forrester isn't sure where he will finish, but wants to come home with something.

"Hopefully, I can be somewhere in there," he said. "I'll be content with a ribbon, but I'd much rather have a medal. I'd like to have a first-place medal."

He's not the only county lifter with a real shot. Central's Viet Lam is a 113-pound dynamo who placed fourth in the state as a freshman and took third last year. The junior, who bench-pressed twice his weight at conference, could continue his slow-but-steady ascent through the state ranks.

"I think Viet's going to be in the top three," said Central coach Mark Griffith, who will have five other lifters competing. "He was at 420 pounds at conference, and 425 won it last year, and 410 the year before that. If he can do what he did at conference, he's going to be right in the thick of things."

Of Central's six state lifters, only Bobby Vasquez is a senior, putting the Bears in good position to improve on a season that saw them win the county championship and finish second in conference to South Sumter.

State success isn't as easy to come by, and Hernando coach Bill Browning said that until the state can implement some kind of drug testing, there will continue to be the kind of numbers that raise eyebrows. "Proper nutrition and hard workouts take you a long way, but there have been some phenomenal lifts there," Browning said. "Maybe too phenomenal."

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