ORANGE PARK - Keystone Heights High's girls weightlifting team has a good role model to try and emulate with the boys team twice in two years the Class 1A team champions."I'm sure they talk to each …
ORANGE PARK - Keystone Heights High's girls weightlifting team has a good role model to try and emulate with the boys team twice in two years the Class 1A team champions.
"I'm sure they talk to each other about it and the kids are very good at supporting each other," said Keystone Heights girls coach Todd Gillenwater, noting Keystone Heights girls weightlifting had state titles in 2004 and 2010 in Brittany Meng and Morgan Buettcher. "We had 20 girls here today and a bunch of top 10 finishes to win these two trophies. That's the boys secret sauce; strength in numbers."
With state meet returner Kaylee Wright leading the Lady Indians and St. Johns Country Day School's Addison Frisbee, a defending state Olympic Snatch champion for the school's first foray into girls weightlifting, showcasing her Olympic Snatch prowess, both schools enjoyed an increase in numbers not only on their team rosters, but also on the region qualifiers heading to West Nassau High School on Sat., Feb. 4.
"I have such a wealth of knowledge at Keystone Heights with coach Lantz Lowery and coach Chuck Dickinson who have built that boys program to be one of the best in the state," said Gillenwater. "Coach Steve Reynolds and John Stilianou are both seasoned winning coaches that bring a certain attitude to the gym for all the sports at Keystone Heights."
In one of the more dramatic moments of the day, Keystone Heights' Ariel King, at 129 in the Traditional phase of the event, punched up her district title winning 130 pound bench to secure the title over Frisbee, enjoyed her moment of excellence.
"I knew if I hit the 130 that I would win the title and I was set to go," said King. "This team has been improving all year and my win just made it more special to be with these girls."
King, who hit just 120 on the clean and jerk with Frisbee nailing a 145, talked with coach Tood to take the shot on her second lift rather than the third (final).
"It was more of an insurance lift for the title," said King. "I tried for a personal best on the third lift, but I think I was drained."
At 169, Keystone Heights' senior Kaylee Wright battled all day in Traditional with Bradford County's Gabrielle Oliver and the final tally came down to a final weigh-in of both athletes to determine the district champion with Oliver getting the gold. Both athletes totaled 340 for the category with equal 160 and 180 lifts in the Clean and jerk and Bench Press.
"This year is kind of special in that I have teammates to train with in the weight room and teammates that keep me motivated in the meets," said Wright."It's a lot easier to go to the gym when there is a bunch of other athletes going there."
For Frisbee at 129, a multiple times AAU Olympic Snatch champion in Florida, showed off her precision technique in both the Olympic category and in the Traditional with her 145 clean and jerk one of the top 10 bests in all classes and her Olympic Snatch total (120) only equaled by Keystone Heights' Kaylee wright at 169.
"I like having the teammates around watching and cheering," said Frisbee. "It's like nothing like last year. Being part of the team makes all of us want to be at our best."
Mag Fackler also won her first district title with a 220 total in 154, second best in the region for Olympic lifts. Sasha Wallace won her first district in Unlimited with a 195 total.
"This is only our second year with the girls team and the interest has grown enough in the school that we will have a boys team next year," said St. Johns coach Justin Frisbee. "If I get a few more girls each year, get our numbers up, we'll be right up there with the rest of the teams. Being a few points out of second place is very exciting for this team."
For Wright, fifth in Traditional last year at 183 and a top 20 finisher at 199 in 2021, will have a third region shot at getting to the Class 1A championship meet.
Wright won the district title at 169 with a 280 total that was tops in the region 2-1A qualifying list. Wright hit the second best clean and jerk of the day with a 160.
For Keystone Heights, Paige Harrington won the Olympics district title at 199 and Kenly Chitty won at 154.