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Return to state gives Skidmore a lift

Dejected after scratching last year, the senior is pumped up for his shot at redemption.

By KEITH NIEBUHR

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 20, 2001


Dejected after scratching last year, the senior is pumped up for his shot at redemption.

Harold Skidmore is ready this time.

In last year's Class A state weightlifting meet, he had butterflies in his stomach and it cost him dearly. After opening with a 245-pound bench press to tie for the lead in the 129-pound weight class, Skidmore scratched on three consecutive clean-and-jerk attempts to wipe out a probable top-six finish.

"I was nervous, and it hurt me," Skidmore said. I'm not going to be nervous this year. I know I won't be. I'm just going to focus and do the best I can. I'm not going to put too much pressure on myself."

Skidmore, a senior at Lecanto, gets his shot at redemption Saturday morning at 11 in Bell -- site of this season's state meet.

He is one of the county's top contenders, along with teammate Nick Derise (119), Jordan Darga (169) of Citrus and A.J. Davis (129) and Nathan Messier (119) of Crystal River.

Lecanto is sending a county-best eight lifters to state, followed by Citrus -- this season's county champ (7) -- and Crystal River (5). None of the three is among the favorites, but each is capable or scoring points.

Skidmore, now competing at 139 pounds, has a season-best total (bench press plus clean-and-jerk) of 495 pounds, which would have been good for third the 2000 meet. Two weeks ago, he was first in the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference championships.

"If he can get up around a 500-pound total, he'll place," Lecanto coach Steve Sherland said. "He's been pretty good so far. He's been a lot more steady this year than he was last year, especially with the clean-and-jerk. He knows what it's going to take. He shouldn't have the jitters this year like he did last year."

Derise posted a 360-pound total in the GCAC meet. A similar performance could result in a top-six finish Saturday.

Darga is, without question, the county's top lifter.

The defending state champion was first in the county and conference meets and has posted impressive totals throughout the season. Last year at state, he totaled 565 pounds.

His best showing this season is 635 pounds.

"If Jordan lifts to the best of his ability and what he's capable of lifting, he will have a real good shot (at winning)," Citrus coach Jonny Bishop said.

Davis has competed much of the season at 139 pounds, but likely will move down to 129. He finished second in the GCAC meet at 139 with a 440-pound total. At 129 pounds, the same performance would give him top-three possibilities based on last year's numbers.

Messier, like Derise, totaled 360 pounds in the GCAC meet. The junior was a state qualifier last year but did not place.

Class A weightlifting meet

WHEN: Saturday, 11 a.m.

WHERE: Bell.

LOCAL TEAMS: Citrus, Crystal River, Lecanto.

LOCAL QUALIFIERS: Citrus -- Jordan Darga (169), Greg Haight (199), Dan Marinelli (238), Mike Maxwell (238), Clayton Swearingen (169), Justin Taylor (183), Flint Whitelaw (139). Crystal River -- A.J. Davis (129), Josh Edwards (HWT), Matt Hinman (238), John Malott (HWT), Nathan Messier (119). Lecanto -- Nick Derise (119), Brian Fields (139), Terence Hollis (169), Jimmy Rodriguez (129), Travis McCauley (154), Harold Skidmore (139), Joe Stasio (169), John Starr (129).

NOTEWORTHY: Citrus' seventh-place finish in the 2000 state meet was the best by a North Suncoast team. ... Darga, the 169-pound champion last year, was the only returning county lifter this season who placed at state in 2000. ... Lecanto is sending eight lifters to state. Last year, the Panthers sent four.

- KEITH NIEBUHR

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