By Chuck Ballaro, Sun Correspondent
PUNTA GORDA — Once again, all eyes were on Port Charlotte boys weightlifter Devin Leacock.
Once again, he did not disappoint.
The junior clean and jerked 390 pounds, which added to the 430 pounds he lifted in the bench, giving him 820 pounds to tie a state record in his weight class and give himself the regional championship in the heavyweight class at the Region 2A-7 weightlifting championship at Charlotte High School on Wednesday.
Leacock was one of three regional winners for a small Port Charlotte squad, on a day where all the area school represented well. Charlotte was the regional team champ with two regional winners, while North Port will also send at least one lifter to states with a regional win.
All eight regional winners automatically qualify for states. The remaining 12 at-large berths will go to those who had the highest scores, which won’t be determined until next week.
Charlotte, with 43 points, bested runner-up Sarasota (31). Port Charlotte and Manatee finished tied for third at 25 points.
Leacock’s first clean and jerk lift of 350 pounds won him the regional championship. The only drama left would be if he could tie the record, and when he failed on his second lift at 375, the pressure mounted even more.
About the only one who wasn’t concerned was Leacock.
“I wanted to hit my numbers and get the 820, which I got,” Leacock said. “I knew I could do 390 because I did 380 at districts two weeks ago. It was just bad form that cost me.”
Leacock’s successful final lift tied him with Cody Hughes, who lifted 820 for Lakewood Ranch in 2005. The state record is held by Lamar Lyles, who lifted 830 for Lake Region in 2004 in the 219-pound weight class.
Leacock’s performance overshadowed great performances from Sabian Levasseur, who won at 199, and Jeanty Luidson, who was regional champ at 239. Jaden Hunter was third at 169, putting him on the bubble.
Considering there are just eight men on the team, that’s a pretty good percentage.
“We’ve sacrificed so much to get here. We all came to school at 5:30 every morning to work out and get where we are now,” Levasseur said. “As a small team we have to put up big numbers to get our names out there. At the end of the day, we do it.”
Charlotte’s Kaden Howell (119) and Shekina Ayemperoumal (183) were regional winners. Devin Markstahler was second in 219, while Gage Strelau was third at 139.
“I came out and did what I came to do. I knew if I hit my openers I would win. I wish I had done better on bench, but it’s all right,” said Howell, who cruised in his weight class.
A tan, rested and ready Alex Jen was the regional champ at 129 for North Port, which finished fifth as a team. Joseph McDonald was second at 183, while Gregg Pardue was third at 154. Both will have to wait to see if their numbers add up to a state bid.
“I had a huge lead on my opponents, so I thought I could win. I took a week off to snowboard in Colorado, but I managed to PR on the bench and clean and jerk. The rest helped me out.”
Region 2A-7 boys weightlifting championships
at Charlotte High School
Team Results: Top 10: CHARLOTTE 43, SARASOTA 31, PORT CHARLOTTE 25, MANATEE 25, NORTH PORT 18, SEBRING 15, CAPE CORAL 15, RIVERVIEW 13, PALMETTO 12, LAKEWOOD RANCH 9
Individual results: 119:1. Kaden Howell (CHS) 175-150-325, 2. Isaiah Lewis (RVD) 145-115-260, 3. Xavier Pantig (FM) 120-135-255; 129: Alex Jen (NP) 250-215-465, 2. Michael Rozmus (SAR) 205-200-405, 3. Kyran Bryant (SAR) 215-185-400; 139: Dylan Wemhauer (SAR) 250-195-445, 2. Ricky Ochoa (PAL) 210-220-430, 3. Gage Strelau (CHS) 215-205-420; 154: Jernard Porter (MAN) 295-250-545, 2. Phillip Hamilton (SEB) 300-190-490, 3. Gregg Pardue (NP) 240-235-495; 169: Sammy Smith (SEB) 275-220-495, 2. Ben Tibbs (SAR) 215-275-490, 3. Jaden Hunter (PC) 260-230-490;
183: Shekina Ayemperoumal (CHS) 315-260-575, 2. Joseph McDonald (NP) 335-235-570, 3. Ricky Anderson (CC) 290-230-520;199: Sabian Levasseur (PC) 355-270-625, 2. Isaac Washington (CC) 285-265-550, 3. Kevin Townsend (MAN) 270-265-535; 219: Joshua Booker (MAN) 370-280-650, 2. Devin Markstahler (CHS) 345-260-605, 3. Kyle Todd (CC) 285-285-570; 238: Jeanty Luidson (PC) 345-300-645, 2. Kyle Powers (RVV) 335-305-640, 3. Seth Waiter (MAN) 295-330-625; Hvy: 1. Devin Leacock (PC) 430-390-820, 2. Jared Griffith (RVV) 405-315-720, 3. Jordan Bush (SAR) 390-310-700.