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Pirates claim Citrus County crown

The Citrus County Weightlifting Championships went just about the way Citrus coach Steve Sherland predicted. Yet, this is one case where it is a sure bet he would rather have been wrong.

Sherland was wary of Crystal River and its strong contingent of lifters and the Pirates didn't disappoint.

Crystal River made the most of its opportunities Wednesday, winning in seven of the 10 weight classes as it unseated defending champion Citrus by a mere four points 46-42. Lecanto finished third with 22 points.

"We needed heavyweight and we got it," Pirates coach Earl Bramlett said of Sam Houston's win in the heavyweight division. "Basically, we needed our first 10 lifters to score and they did. But the others needed to score, too, and they did."

Bramlett's biggest concern entering the meet was the Hurricanes, and the depth advantage they parlayed into a 53-29 win over the Pirates earlier this season.

However, with the rosters limited to 15 lifters _ the way it is done at the state championships _ the Hurricanes' advantage was limited, and the Pirates took full advantage.

Clayton Boyette (199 pounds), a state qualifier last year, was second among all lifters with a combined lift of 560 pounds _ 10 better than heavyweight champ Houston. Boyette did it with a 330-pound bench press (only Houston was higher at 335) and a clean-and-jerk of 230.

Joining Boyette and Houston as individual champs were Pirate teammates Phuoug Chau (340 combined lift) at 119, Anthony Cooks (470) at 139, Tim Ditty (505) at 169, Ricky Posselt (515) at 183 and Jason Massey, who led all lifters with a combined lift of 565 pounds (305 bench, 260 clean-and-jerk).

Nick Morris (129 pounds) and Timmy White (154) along with teammate Jason King (238) all won their weight classes for the Hurricanes. White and Morris have already met the weight limit for state qualification and John Gebbia, who was second to Cooks at 139 with a combined lift of 435 pounds, was just five pounds short of the minimum weight.

Lecanto, which looked to play the spoiler, and might have done so in the case of the Hurricanes, had no individual champions, but got some solid performances. Jeff Hoki (second at 129), Ryan Pelky (second at 183) and Joey Courter (second at 199) were the Panthers' top finishers.

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