By Bryan Levine, SunCoast Sports
PUNTA GORDA — Breanna Jacobs began her training as a two-time weightlifting state champion when she was 2 years old.
She just didn’t know it at the time.
“The bars help you get a lot of upper body strength,” Jacobs said. “ I think it’s cool how it all accumulates together. I get stronger from weightlifting and that helps gymnastics and cheerleading.”
The Charlotte High School junior is not only one of the strongest girls in Florida, but she’s a cheerleader and nationally-recognized gymnast. She’s also the Sun’s All-Area girls weightlifter of the year.
Jacobs displayed dominance at the Class 2A state championships in Kissimmee back in February. She had an opening-round bench press of 190 pounds, more than 60 pounds her bodyweight. She added a weight-class best 175-pound clean and jerk for a total of 365.
Her next closest competitor was 40 pounds shy of Jacobs’ mark, giving her the largest margin between first- and second-place finishers for the entire tournament.
“It is very rare and very unique to have the opportunity to coach someone like that special,” Charlotte coach Angie Nolan said. “On Sunday night’s she’ll call and ask when can I get in (to the weight room). She’s chomping at the bit to get in here.”
The championship for Jacobs was her second. In 2015, as a sophomore, she won the 110-pound state title, tying the state record of a 160-pound bench press for that weight class.
Jacobs credits her background in gymnastics for catching on so quick with weightlifting.
“Others always compare themselves to me, but they can’t because I’ve been doing gymnastics,” Jacobs said. “They just started. It’s going to take time, it doesn’t just happen right away.”
As a gymnast, Jacobs is just as, if not more, accomplished as she is a weightlifter.
With the balance beam and floor routine as her go-to events, Jacobs has won a pair of state championships, and recently was awarded an All-American trophy.
“Now I’m basically a four-time state champ,” she said with a smirk.
She’s never afraid to show off those gymnastic skills, whether it’s walking on her hands during a weightlifting practice, or doing back flips as a cheerleader on the sidelines of a football game.
Jacobs says of the three sports, weightlifting is her favorite, and maybe that’s because it runs in the family.
Her step father, Ray Hixson, is the boys weightlifting coach for Charlotte.
Hixson helped Jacobs learn the sport as a freshman and taught her some techniques, but just like many teenage girls before her, and many more after her, she didn’t want the advice from dad once she figured it out.
He was glad to step back and play the role of proud pop.
“I would throw her a pointer her and there, but now I don’t do much other than going to meets and being supportive,” Hixson said. “I think I was more nervous watching her than when I watched the kids I coach.
Whatever she’s doing, it’s working.
Jacobs has the opportunity to join some rarefied company — in both the state of Florida and at Charlotte — next year when she goes for her third weightlifting title. In the FHSAA 12-year weightlifting history, only seven girls have won three state championships, with the last one accomplishing that feat in 2012.
Over Charlotte’s athletic history, only three others have won three state titles (two of which won four).
“I feel like it would be awesome to become a three-time state champion. Especially representing Charlotte,” Jacobs said. “It’s unbelievable. I’ve always dreamed of being a state champion. Two have two or three would be crazy.”
It wouldn’t be surprising to see Jacobs have a third gold medal hanging from her neck next year. After all, she’s been training for it since she was 2.
Charlotte • Junior • 110 pounds
Trainor quietly won a district and regional championship in her junior year. She lifted 130 pounds in both the bench press and clean and jerk for a 260 total and a fourth-place finish at states.
Port Charlotte • Junior • 139 pounds
Eckhoff was a state champion runner-up this year, placing second in the 139-pound class. She totaled 330 pounds in her two lifts, and was just 10 pounds shy of a state title.
Port Charlotte • Senior • 154 pounds
Fultz placed fourth in the Class 1A state championships with a total of 310 pounds between her two lifts to cap off her weightlifting career.
Charlotte • Senior • 183 pounds
Chavarria took home a district title, and was the runner-up in both the region and the state as a senior. She benched 170 pounds and added a 195 clean and jerk for a silver medal.
Charlotte • Senior • 199 pounds
With an impressive 215-pound bench press at the state meet, Carmello took home a silver medal, totaling 405 after a 190-pound clean and jerk. She collected a district championship along the way.
Port Charlotte • Freshman • 199 pounds
The sky is the limit for this freshman, as she finished sixth in her first year of competition. Kaufman lifted a total of 295 pounds to earn a trip to the podium.
Charlotte: Kacey Meddaugh (119), Samantha Fining (183), Tiffany Dodson (UNL)
Lemon Bay: Emily Schulte (119), Macayla Marinola (129)
North Port: Courtney Purcell (169)
Port Charlotte: Meighan Wright (183)