By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
PORT CHARLOTTE – In the past, the Port Charlotte High School girls weightlifting team pretty much owned the sport.
That changed Friday as Lemon Bay won four weight classes on its way to the Class 1A-14 championship for its first district title.
Lemon Bay squeezed past the Pirates 72 to 59, with Bayshore a close third in an event that saw all five schools win at least one district championship in the 10 weight classes.
Lemon Bay coach Don Southwell had his girls take the conservative route in the meet, waiting until regionals at River Ridge next week to let it all loose and hopefully improve on their third place finish at regionals last year where they sent six lifters to states.
“We had two goals, to secure points for the team and qualify for regionals and not go crazy going for PRs,” Southwell said. “We knew we had a good chance at being first, we just wanted to lock that up.”
The girls team, despite the success, has recently been in the shadows of the boys weightlifting team and Southwell said it was special for his girls to break through.
“It’s really cool. The boys team has been real successful and the girls have been in there. But this is a special group. They trained all summer and fall even when I couldn’t be there because of football. I’m happy for them,” Southwell said.
Kacee Nelson, who won in the 119 weight class, said it was nerve wracking, especially that first lift where you’re trying to get on the board.
“I was so nervous the entire time, but I pushed through. I got my best in bench with 130. I was going for it,” Nelson said.
“I tried to be conservative with my bench, but I went for it in the clean-and-jerk, where I got a PR,” said Savannah Galloway, who won in the 154 weight class. “I’m going to push myself real hard at practice this week and put in that extra effort so I can PR at regionals.”
The Manta Rays dominated the lower weight classes, with Hannah Kane winning the 101 class, Skylar Swencki taking the 110 class and Macayla Marinola finishing first in the 129 class.
While finishing second is something the Pirates aren’t used to, Port Charlotte coach David Hoffer said it wasn’t a bad day for their lifters.
“We did awesome. We had PRs left and right and that’s all we can ask for. We can just improve from the beginning of the year to the end,” Hoffer said.
Maranda Eckhoff, who missed two meets with an injury, won the 139 weight class, while Giovanna Livingston-Witter took the unlimited class title.
“I didn’t get to do my maxes for either event, so I didn’t do well. I was at 50 percent. I should be almost back to fill strength by next week,” Eckhoff said.
“I think I could have done better in the clean-and-jerk, but overall I did well,” Livingston-Witter said. “I’d like to gain about 20 pounds on my clean.”
Hoffer said the finish was also a testament to how strong the teams were.
“This is a very talented district. Bayshore and Lemon Bay have good teams and Southeast and Booker have real good lifters. Southwest Florida girls weightlifting really put up some big numbers.”
Class 1A-14 Girls weightlifting championships
At Port Charlotte
LEMON BAY 72, PORT CHARLOTTE 59, BAYSHORE 49, SOUTHEAST 26, BOOKER 11
103: 1. Hannah Kane (LB) 115-95-210; 2. Cheyenne Joslin (PC) 85-80-165; 3. Sara Reid (LB) 80-80-160; 110: Skylar Swencki (LB) 130-85-215; 2. Taylor Neumeyer (LB) 95-100-195; 3. Cynd’ll Jean (SE) 75-95-170; 119: 1. Kacee Nelson (LB) 130-130-260; 2. Emily Schulte (LB) 130-130-260; 3. Ana Mejia (BAY) 90-105-195; 129. 1. Macayla Marinola (LB) 140-150-290; 2. Emma Pritchett (PC) 130-135-265; 3. Lacey Guptill (BAY) 110-130-240.
139: Maranda Eckhoff (PC) 150-145-295; 2. Julianna Borkus (BAY) 120-140-260; 3. Susan Blue (BAY) 120-125-245; 154. Savanna Galloway (LB) 155-155-310; 2. Kaelyn Griffiths (PC) 135-150-285; 3. Alexis Dorrell (BAY) 120-130-250; 169: 1. Lourde Blanc (SE) 140-130-270; 2. Cameron Crowell (SE) 125-130-255; 3. Jasmine Fann (PC) 140-115-255.
183: 1. Elisabelle Polynice (BAY) 145-135-280; 2. Noelle Futch (LB) 130-115-245; 3, Nicole Nava (PC) 110-130-240; 199. 1. Christian McKay (BKR) 230-180-410; 2. Kennedy Reigle (LB) 155-150-305; 3. Zoeie Kaufman (PC) 150-145-295; Unl. 1. Giovanna Livingston-Witter (PC) 195-155-350; 2. Alyssa Page (BAY) 175-155-330; 3. Bessie Conner-Switzer (PC) 165-145-310.