By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
KISSIMMEE — When confined within the four walls of the Port Charlotte High School weight room, Devin Leacock and Aaron Wertz can’t stand each other.
Whether it’s dips, pullups or pushups, the two competitive Pirates are always trying to out-do each other during practices.
“Their relationship is very interesting,” Port Charlotte coach Jaret Deebus said. “They compete against each other like they’re going to cut their heads off. Once they’re out of the weight room, they’re good ol’ boys. It’s cool to see them compete.”
The support the two weightlifters show for each other outside of the weight room is unparalleled.
A perfect example came during Saturday’s Class 2A State Weightlifting Championships.
When Wertz should have been preparing to get in the the right mindset for his next lift, he instead took time to cheer and motivate his teammate who was lifting just a few feet away.
“We’re pretty tight,” Wertz said. “We always make sure we’re in each other’s ear, focusing, and pushing each other whenever we can. Devin is a stronger kid than I could ever hope to be. Nobody knows what he can do behind doors.”
Wertz cheered on his teammate to a podium finish as a 238-pounder.
Leacock topped out with 365 pounds in the bench press, and followed that with 305 on the clean and jerk for a 670 total and a sixth-place showing.
“Let’s get him some experience,” Deebus said of the sophomore. “This atmosphere is very hard to replicate in any of the meets we have. All these people looking at you. You’re in an area that’s sunken down, and it’s difficult. He didn’t bring his best stuff today. Did he want to? Absolutely. It wasn’t a matter of not working hard.”
Said Leacock: “I was hoping to come in first, but I know I have to work harder for next year. It’s pretty good for my first year lifting.”
Wertz was Port Charlotte’s lone state qualifier a year ago, and found himself 10 pounds shy of a sixth-place medal. He came back in his senior year and repeated the same finish, but in a much more dramatic way.
Sitting 14th after the first round with a 325-pound bench press, Wertz knew his clean and jerk would catapult him up the standings, and it took a personal record to do so.
“He’s really battled with a lot of medical issues this year,” Deebus said. “To do what he did today is just awesome. It was really good he had that experience from last year because he knew what he needed to do on the clean and jerk.”
Wertz’s previous best in the lift was 315 pounds. He bypassed an attempt at 320 on Saturday and went straight for 325, which he nailed.
“I can’t say I’m really disappointed,” Wertz said. “I came through a lot of adversity to get here. I’m happy with what I got on clean and jerk. It was a big accomplishment of mine. I’ve been working to get 325 for a while now.”
Qualifying weightlifters: 2
Lifter Class Finish
Devin Leacock 238 6th
Aaron Wertz 219 7th
CLASS 2A STATE WEIGHLIFTING
at Kissimmee Civic Center
1. (tie) Choctaw, Spruce Creek 19; 3. Flagler Palm Coast 14; 4. Bantram Trail 13; 4. New Smyrna Beach 13; 6. Fort Walton Beach 12.
27. (tie) Charlotte 2; 31. (tie) Port Charlotte 1.
119: Adrian Acevedo (Pace) 235-225-460. 129: Kendrick Thomas (Flagler Palm Coast) 260-235-495. 139: Justin Scott (Choctaw) 300-275-575. 154: Michael Branuelos (Colonial) 325-265-590. 169: Slade Villalobos (Spruce Creek) 350-335-685. 183: Dante Collier (Spruce Creek) 335-340-676. 199: Javon Wilson (Lake Region) 330-370-700. 219: Alex Brousseau (Wellington) 365-375-740. 238: Graylon Johnson (Choctaw) 425-315-740. HWT: Michael Astrologo (Flagler Palm Coast) 455-350-805.