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Central lifts its weight at state

The girls weightlifting team places third in the 30-team field, Central's highest finish ever.

Central's girls weightlifting team returned from Belleview this weekend with the school's highest finish ever at the state meet, taking third place in the 30-team field.

"A few of them were nervous, but we were very pleased by the way things went," said first-year coach Sharon Elliott, whose team improved on last year's fourth-place finish by scoring 21 points, behind only Dunnellon (26) and Lake Brantley (24). "Some of the weight classes were very tough, but I think the girls did well."

Freshman Alaya Smiley earned a state title in the 129-pound class, bench-pressing 155 pounds and clean-lifting 150 for a total of 305 pounds, 15 more than any other lifter in her class.

"She was so excited," Elliott said. "When I got to put the medal around her neck, she said, "Now, you don't start crying or I'll be crying too.' She's very athletic, but this wasn't even her best total."

Her total was still 10 pounds more than what she posted two weeks ago in winning her weight class at the Gulf Coast Athletic Conference Championships _ only one wrestler came within 30 pounds of her total in either meet.

Central shared the conference crown with South Sumter, but if the state meet serves as an unofficial tiebreaker, South Sumter finished sixth, three spots behind Central.

Junior Stephanie Doyle matched the best total in the 119-pound class at 270 pounds, but had to settle for third. When one or more lifters finish with the same total, the tie goes to the lightest lifter, and Doyle weighed in at 1.3 pounds more than South Sumter's Sally Ingram. Doyle also took third place at last year's state meet, but she managed to improve her total by 15 pounds this time around and held her own in what Elliott said was a vastly improved weight class.

"Last year, first place in that class was 265 pounds, and this year, none of the top six had less than 265," she said.

Two other Bears lifters earned points with top-six finishes: Heather Krasniewski finished third in the 183-pound class with a total of 295 pounds, and Elizabeth Medeiros took fifth in the 129-pound class with 250 pounds. Elena Morales, who won the 110-pound class at the GCAC meet, finished eighth (225 pounds).

Elliott said the meet was a good experience for her young team, adding that the chance to see so many talented lifters from outside their area gave the Bears a few pointers as well.

"A lot of our girls want to try their own techniques, but they were noticing that the girls using the correct form were doing better," she said.

Springstead sent five girls to Belleview for the meet, but three were unable to compete because they failed to make their weight class. Coach Ron Batt said he was "very disappointed" and that the girls had been "careless over the weekend."

The two Eagles who were able to compete had modest success. Brittany Exum, lifting in the 110-pound class, finished 12th with a total of 205 pounds, and Belinda Owens, also in the same class, lifted a total of 175 pounds.

"I want to congratulate Central on a very successful season," Batt said. "I was very proud that someone from Hernando County could do so well. They set an example for what we can do next year if we put our minds to it."