LAKELAND - With a relatively unimpressive region championship showing, third place finishes in the two disciplines, the Fleming Island High boys weightlifting team defied the odds with an …
LAKELAND - With a relatively unimpressive region championship showing, third place finishes in the two disciplines, the Fleming Island High boys weightlifting team defied the odds with an astoundingly impressive showing at the Class 2A weightlifting championship with a repeat of their two team titles in Class 3A two years ago.
In 2021, in Class 3A, Springs earned outright team titles in the Tradition scoring, 24-18 over University High, in a year without the Olympic Snatch discipline part of the competition.
In 2022, still in Class 3A, and now with the Olympic Snatch added as a separate lift next to the Traditional scoring; clean and jerk and bench press, Fleming Island was 19th in Tradition and 27th in Olympic Snatch.
“Look at my paper, I had us tied with them with 19 points going down there,” said Fleming Island boys weightlifting coach Damenyum Springs, who now has two sets of state championships trophies in the past three years after Saturday’s thrilling 19-19 first place tie with Choctawhatchee in Lakeland for the Class 2A Tradition team title and a 26-26 first place tie with Leesburg in the Olympic scoring team championship. “I crunched the numbers and I had us tying with 19 points in the Tradition with Choctowhatchee. That 19 winning the title was a bonus.”
Ironically, Choctowhatchee crushed the field in region 1-2A with Fort Walton Beach second and Fleming Island third by 18 points.
Fleming Island scored big with Zach Davis winning the 154 Traditional title and Gage Isbell taking second in Unlimited to Choctowhatchee’s David Pettway, but it was a scoreless morning session with the lightweight classes for Choctawhatchee that kept Fleming Island in the game.
“I calculated 12 points for them in the first session and they scored zero,” said Springs. “Our lightweights were our youngest lifters and not going to factor much on paper, but Tyler Williams, fifth in 169, snuck up on everyone and that gave us two points. Jered Rhodes, at 199, got second when I thought he would win, but Tyler’s fifth made the difference up and got us to 19 points.”
Springs noted that Williams was just a first year lifter and more of a football player that lifted before the meet.
“He’s an athlete and competitive and the team needed a surprise from someone off the radar,” said Springs. “Williams, Tyler Beverly and Kevin Reyes were our three surprises for the day. The rest of the team kind of did what was expected. Nobody knew what Tyler Williams and Kevin were going to do.”
Also in the Traditional scoring, where Ridgeview and Middleburg had qualifiers, Ridgeview’s Randy Emannuel finished third at 129 in Traditional with Emannuel actual tying with a 440 total to Fort Myers Chelio Antoine but being awarded third by body weight. Emannuel was also third in the Olympic scoring; 10 pounds ahead of Antoine.
For Middleburg, Josh Senear at 169 was Class 2A runnerup by just five pounds to Ida Baker’s Luke Buzzelli and five pounds ahead of teammate Gabe Harp who finished third in the same weight class. Both Senear and Harp finished ahead of Fleming Island’s Williams. Both finished out of the top 10 in Olympics with Fleming Island’s Tyler Beverly winning the title at 169 by 30 pounds with a 490 total.
“Tyler and Kevin Reyes were both kind of new to the Olympic Snatch lift and were a little intimidated by it during the season,” said Springs. “It’s a little scary throwing that kind of weight over your head in one fast motion.”
Beverly, who failed to qualify for state in Tradition because of a no-lift in bench press at regions, was determined to make his worth to the team at the state meet.
“I went in too high at regions and blew my lifts in the bench press and got kicked out of the state meet for Tradition,” said Beverly, a junior. “When I did that, I got really mad at myself and told myself that I had to make it up for my teammates.”
Beverly made his title a bit more dramatic by missing his first two lifts in the Olympic snatch before besting the field with a 220, then hitting 270 on his second lift in clean and jerk to set the table.
“I knew I had to hit my Olympic Snatch for the team and got my mind right for that last lift,” said Beverly.
Springs also noted that he had another wild card in his deck with Reyes.
“He didn’t win a single meet all season in Olympics,” said Springs. “At state, he wins the dang Unlimited Olympics title with the best Olympic snatch of the year.”
Reyes, with a solid 215 first lift, a miss on his second left at 225 and final successful lift at 225, had himself position just 10 pounds behind leader Jayce Marcum of Charlotte; good at 235.
“He outplayed him in the clean and jerk,” said Springs, noting Reyes hit his 315 on his second lift to put pressure on the field with just Isbell staying close with his 310 opening lift in clean and jerk. Isbell only hit 200 in Olympic Snatch.
Choctawhatchee’s Pettway was not a factor as he did not compete in the Olympic Snatch and was only in for Traditional with his 315 clean and jerk, green lighting Reyes for the surprise title. Reyes, conversely, was not a factor in Tradition having not qualified from region in that scoring.
Also for Ridgeview, Collier Stephens, at 238, finished third in Traditional with a 640 total behind winner Antwuan Hampton on North Marion hoisting a 700 total. Stephens would finish ninth in Olympic Scoring as well.
For Middleburg, Khoda Moses was sixth at 219 in Olympic scoring.
Fleming Island’s Braden Cunningham was seventh in Tradition in Unlimited.
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