By Jordan Kroeger, SunCoast Sports
ENGLEWOOD — Lemon Bay weightlifting coach Don Southwell always tells his team one thing before every big meet.
“He always says to beat LaBelle. As long as we beat LaBelle, we’re good,” Ron Feril said.
Consider it done.
Just like they did at districts two weeks earlier, the Manta Rays edged LaBelle at the Region 1A-8 meet on Saturday to take home their second straight regional championship in their own gym. Led by first-place finishes by Logan Lydic (139-pound weight class), Treston Kopp (169) and Feril (183), Lemon Bay scored 63 points to LaBelle’s 53.
The score was close enough to make Southwell sweat, considering LaBelle had four lifters win their weight classes — Santiago Morales (119), Noey Espinoza (129), Josue Gonzalez (154) and Angel Gutierrez (219).
“I always do the scores ahead of time as soon as I get the results for all teams kind of as a predication,” Southwell said. “I kind of was expecting about a 12-point victory but we had some guys falter and they had some guys move up some spots so I was a little nervous, but cautiously optimistic. It was a relief to see 53-63.”
Although LaBelle had more individual champions, Lemon Bay had four more lifters place in the top-six for scoring with 15. That proved to be the difference.
“This is why we do it. We’ve got to beat LaBelle because they’re our rival,” Lydic said.
Lydic returns to the state meet for the second straight year after lifting a total of 435 pounds to beat out LaBelle’s Felix Flores by 30. He’s been motivated all season, considering he was 20 pounds short of a state medal in 2016.
That was a tough feeling to stomach for the junior, who expects states to go differently in two weeks.
“I just really want to get a medal. I just want a medal because I was so close last year and it sucked. That’s my motivation,” Lydic said. “I know I’m looking a lot better this year.”
Feril and Kopp didn’t make it to the state meet a season ago, though Feril was close.
A week removed from a fever, Feril finished third at regionals when he missed his final lift. That proved to be backbreaking as he missed an at-large berth for state by 10 pounds.
That wouldn’t be the case Saturday afternoon as he nailed his final clean and jerk of 245 pounds to finish with a 550 total, 40 ahead of runner-up Jordan Johnson from American Heritage.
“I’m hoping to at least place at state,” Feril said. “Last year, I got second almost every meet. A friend of mine would beat me by five pounds. He’d wait for me to go and then go over what I would do. But I just want to place at states.”
Kopp finished with a 495 total, 20 pounds ahead of Marathon’s Roberto Garcias. His 280-pound bench press was the difference, 30 more than Garcias, who missed his last two attempts.
First-place finishers in each weight class automatically qualify for the state meet at DeLand High School on April 7-8. The rest of the field will be determined next week, with the top-12, non-first place finishers in each weight class from every region combined earning at-large bids.
REGION 1A-8 CHAMPIONSHIP
Lemon Bay High School
1. Lemon Bay 63, 2. LaBelle 53, 3. (tie) Glades Central, Pine Crest 21, 5. Marathon 15, 6. (tie) Cardinal Mooney, Cardinal Newman, DeSoto County 7, 9. Southeast 6, 10. (tie) American Heritage, Archbishop McCarthy, Bayshore 5, 13. St. Edwards 3. 14. (tie) Booker, Lake Placid 1.
119: 1. Santiago Morales (L) 195-225-420, 2. Caleb Cooper (LB) 160-145-305, 3. Antonio Laidler (GC) 155-125-290; 129: 1. Noey Espinoza (L) 195-205-400, 2. Jose Trejo (L) 190-160-350, 3. Chase Anderson (PC) 190-135-325; 139: 1. Logan Lydic (LB) 230-205-435, 2. Felix Flores (L) 200-205-405, 3. Valens Roselvard (GC) 215-175-390; 154: 1. Josue Gonzalez (L) 215-255-470, 2. Edward Brown (L) 250-220-470, 3. Jacob Davis (LB) 235-225-460; 169: 1. Treston Kopp (LB) 280-215-495, 2. Roberto Gonzalez (M) 250-225-475, 3. Hunter Weir (LB) 235-225-475; 183: 1. Ron Feril (LB) 305-245-550, 2. Jordan Johnson (AH) 265-245-510, 3. Keegan Marinola (LB) 245-245-490; 199: 1. Thuran Smith (GC) 345-265-565, 2. Brayden Curry (LB) 300-265-565, 3. Kevin Avendano (LB) 280-255-535; 219: 1. Angel Gutierrez (L) 300-290-590, 2. Robbie Cerami (LB) 300-285-585, 3. Bryce Bloom (PC) 325-250-575; 238: 1. Dillon O’Neil (CM) 405-290-695, 2. Dillon Cokenour (AM) 285-250-535, 3. Solis Leonel (L) 255-250-505; HWT: 1. Jordy Mejia (M) 355-255-610, 2. Robbie Fatovic (PC) 300-255-555, 3. Kendhal Stewart (DC) 305-235-540.