Lifters run fine line of readiness

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 3/7/21

ORANGE PARK - With three district champion teams; Keystone Heights, Ridgeview and Fleming Island, and a handful of regional hopefuls, area boys weightlifting teams will be training carefully to exact …

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Lifters run fine line of readiness


ORANGE PARK - With three district champion teams; Keystone Heights, Ridgeview and Fleming Island, and a handful of regional hopefuls, area boys weightlifting teams will be training carefully to exact a little more power at the Friday and Saturday region championships en route to a state meet berth two weeks later. Clay High’s Isaiah Jones had the most dominant win with a 100-pound gap in his 129-pound division in district 5-2A indicating a near lock on a region and state title.
“We don’t have one lifter that will set records and win an individual state title, but we got a couple of guys in each weight class that can bring us a lot of team points,” said Keystone Heights coach Lantz Lowery, who won the District 8-1A title decisively with a 98 to 38 win over Interlachen with eight individual champions. “Our best bet is a team title if all of our guys get six solid lifts to put pressure on the other lifters. We don’t have to chase big lifts to win the team title, but being unselfish is tough when a state champion ring is so close.”
For Lowery, whose Indians have claimed three titles in the past month; the Suwannee Invitational in a tie with powerhouse Pace High, the Clay County title over the other two district champions; Ridgeview and Fleming Island, and, now their own district title, the 2021 team has a lot of the characteristics of the 2014 team that tied Baker County for the Class 1A team title.
“The win at the county championship showed us that our depth was what was going to carry us through regions to state,” said Lowery. “We were missing a few of our key guys and we still lifted strongly there. We had a similar approach in 2014.”
Keystone Heights sends eight champions; Reid Begue at 119, Zach Glover at 139, Nathan Tisdale at 154, Logan Williams at 169, Tyler Jenkins at 183, Tyler Anthony-Rozier at 199, Caleb Moncrief at 219 and Mason Dicks at Unlimited.
“We also had eight that finished top three,” said Lowery.
For Ridgeview coach Matt Knauss, who out lifted county rival Orange Park 66-53 for the District 4-2A title, and Fleming Island coach Damenyum Springs, who beat Creekside 83-55 with Oakleaf at 37 for third in district 3-3A, the next three weeks is a lot of preparation readiness and a strong peak on state meet days; April 23-24. Clay, in district 5-2A finished second to Matanzas, 82-56, with St. Augustine third at 40. Middleburg had eight top six finishers led by Stone Newsome’s title at 183 pounds in district 4-2A.
“The state champion is going to come out of our region, not even close,” said Knauss, noting Pace High’s dominance during the season. “Pace has a lot kids in the top six of their district.”
In district 4-2A, Ridgeview earned individual titles from Chris Baptiste at 129, A.J. Beaufort at 154, Joe Reed at 199, Collier Stephens at 219 and Prince Savea at 238. Orange Park got one title to Jose Penagos at 119 with six in the top three. Middleburg got a district title to Stone Newsome at 183 with three more in the top three.
“Only the top guy at region is automatically advanced,” said Knauss. “The rest is on totals and how much guys weigh on that day.”
Knauss, with Beaufort winning meets all season by 50-60 pounds, and Joe Reed settling into his technique, sees
For Springs, who had seven champions; Justin Nolley at 129, Elijah Jones at 139, Will Stephens at 154, Musthafa Marshall at 169, Tim Thomas at 219, Alex Maier at 238 and Rickey Joseph at Unlimited.
“Right now, we have to strategize to win region titles to get guys to state,” said Springs. “We have the Panhandle teams coming to our region and they are tough.”

Springs liked four guys as being in control of their own ride to the state meet; Will Stephens, Tim Thomas, Alex Maier and Rickey Joseph.
“Rickey just adds more weight each day to his lifts; another 15 today in bench press, because he is so new to the sport,” said Springs, noting Joseph’s top total of 665 at districts. “He has not found his max yet. He just keeps adding weight and lifting.”
For Stephens, who had a three-lifter battle at the Clay County championships, Springs liked his tenacity at that point of the meet. Stephens won his district title by 65 pounds with Jones winning by 75.
“He’s ready for a couple of big lifts,” said Springs.
Oakleaf got a district title to Isaiah Shevchook at 183 with six athletes in the top three.
For Clay’s Jones, who maxed at 215 and 185 to win his 129 division with a 400 total, both lifts were just his opening weights with the closest lifter in both disciplines far from Jones; 70 pounds for the bench press, 45 for the clean and jerk.
Clay coach Kyle Kennard also got a title to Daniel Paniayua at 154 with 10 athletes in the top six. Matanzas had five district champions.

Past state champions
Clay: Tavaris McDuffie 1999, Theodore Monroe 2011, Bob Seat 1983, Kenneth White 1983
Keystone Heights: Darrell Byrnes 1995, Bear Snay 1998
Middleburg: Robert Kepler 1986, Josh Pruitt 1998
Oakleaf: Jakobi Baker 2018
Orange Park: Jacob Abdel 2014, David Araujo 2019, Roger French 1984, Carlos Jefferson 2008, Andrew Ratica 2014 and 2015, Zykiem Sermons 2019
Fleming Island: Jesse Brooks 2011, Frantz Caudio 2012, Tyler Nguyen 2018


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