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Royal Knight finds time to become county's best

Emily Meyer keeps busy in and out of the weight room. However, that hasn't stopped her from maintaining an undefeated record.

By STEVE LEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 15, 2000


NEW PORT RICHEY -- Emily Meyer's favorite sport is not recognized by the Florida High School Activities Association, but that hardly diminishes her feats of strength.

Girls weightlifting has yet to be sanctioned in Florida, but that has not kept Meyer from giving her best effort in hoisting iron. The River Ridge junior is a two-time Sunshine Athletic Conference champion and has won her weight class at two state meets.

In fact, Meyer, who has competed in the 148- and 158-pound classes, has never lost in her two seasons with the Royal Knights.

That unblemished record coupled with her post-season milestones makes Meyer the Times All-Pasco County Female Weightlifter of the Year.

"I could bump Emily up or down, and she won every time," River Ridge coach Mike DeGennaro said. "She doesn't like to lose."

Ridgewood's second consecutive unbeaten season (7-0 in the SAC following last year's 6-0 mark) earned Kecia Starnes the Times All-Pasco County Coach of the Year honors.

"The girls really pushed themselves," Starnes said. "They wanted it,"

Meyer totaled 280 pounds (150 in the clean-and-jerk and 130 in the bench press) to win the state meet in April. Last year, she won state with a 255. "I was completely shocked when I got 150," Meyer said. "I was thinking, "It's lighter than it is. It's lighter than it is.'

"I guess it worked."

Meyer was a three-sport athlete for the Royal Knights, also competing in swimming and for the junior varsity softball team for two seasons. However, she dropped softball this season.

"I had so much on my plate, and I really wanted to concentrate on weightlifting," Meyer said. "A lot of people don't realize (weightlifting) takes the skill it does. It's something I've always loved."

"She really works on her technique with the clean-and-jerk, which is her strong point," DeGennaro said.

Meyer's unselfish approach allowed teammate Kenna Doscher to claim a conference championship at 148. "She wants to see (her teammates) succeed as well as her," DeGennaro said.

Be it lifting weights or swimming in a race, athletics are among a myriad of activities that keep this precocious teen on the go. She also shines in the classroom by maintaining a 4.3 grade point average and is fast becoming a state leader in another area.

In April, Meyer was elected state president of the Future Business Leaders of America.

Being part of that organization, of which her mother, Maryanne, a vocational teacher at River Ridge, is an adviser, has allowed Meyer to improve her public speaking skills and become involved with numerous community events.

Lifting weights in front of a crowd and speaking in public, like she will do at a national FBLE conference July 6-12 in Long Beach, Calif., are similar to Meyer.

"It's the same adrenaline rush," she said.

Somehow, Meyer manages to squeeze in time for movies and hanging out with her friends, Patty Boczarski and Emily Minter.

For Meyer, juggling athletics, academics and leisure activities is not as daunting as some might think.

Her best advice? "Handle one thing at a time and do your best."

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