It was starting to look like one of those days for Steve Sherland and the Citrus weightlifting squad. Yet, as soon as things appeared to be at their worst, everything began to pick up for the Hurricanes.
For starters, Citrus avenged last week's four-point loss to Crystal River in the Citrus County Championships with a four-point win over the Pirates 67-63 for the Sumter/Citrus Invitational Championship.
And while the coach was dismayed after two of his lifters failed to make their state-qualifying lifts, he was equally delighted when John Gebbia qualified with a personal-best combined lift of 440 pounds in the 139-pound weight class. That was good for second behind Crystal River's Anthony Cooks (465).
Gebbia, along with individual champions Vince Venero (465 at 169), Tim White (500 at 154) and Nick Morris (430 at 129) led the Citrus contingent, which took advantage of superior depth and the absence of two Pirate lifters in winning the five-way meet.
"Well, I'd say we're pretty darn even," Sherland said of his team and the Pirates. "I know he was missing at least one lifter and I'd say it's going to be nip and tuck at conference. It's going to come down to whoever lifts better and (the championship) will probably be between both of us."
Crystal River, which was without the services of last week's 169-pound champion Tim Ditty, took home five individual titles. Matching Cooks' effort were Jason Massey (570 at 219), Clayton Boyette (540 at 199), Ricky Posselt (495 at 183) and Phuong Chau (345 at 119).
Lecanto, which finished fourth with 31 points (eight behind host South Sumter) was led by second-place finishers Brian Furniss (500 at 199) and Joe Courter (470 at 183); and Ryan Beaver (450 at 183), who finished third in his weight class.
HUDSON _ The weight is over for Zephyrhills High.
The wait was worth it for Hudson.
Hudson ended Zephyrhills' nine-year reign as Sunshine Athletic Conference weightlifting champions Wednesday in a close 57-53 victory over Pasco. Zephyrhills was third with 31 points.
But the Cobras did not find out they had dethroned the Bulldogs until the final team totals were added at the end of the 5-hour meet. The Hudson lifters crowded around the scorer's table and let out a cheer after the final results were compiled.
"I owe it all to the guys," second-year Hudson coach Rick Conn said. "They do all the work. I just offer encouragement."
Hudson won five weight classes, including a 1-2 finish at 139 pounds, to edge Pasco. Barry Vance had the Cobras' highest total at 238 as he bench pressed 325 pounds and had 255 in the clean and jerk for a 580 total. Mike Pollock, competing at 183s, went 330 and 245 for a 575 total.
Pollock said most of Hudson's senior lifters have trained together since the eighth grade.
"We've been lifting together for five years and we just kept getting stronger," Pollock said. "This feels really good."
The top total of the meet was registered by Pasco heavyweight Rob Roberts, who pressed 335 and made 300 in the clean and jerk for 635. The Pirates' Midical Mitchell also had a strong meet at 154 with a 530 total.
Zephyrhills did not have a first-place finish for first-year coach Chris Bounnell.
"Like coach (Dave) Gaffney said, "All good things must come to end,' after Pasco stopped our 47-match winning streak," Bounnell said. "Unfortunately, I was the coach it happened to. But we're going to work hard to build a year-round program and hopefully, we'll be back."
_ JIM CARSON