Nicole Daignault was having a bad day.
"I was just kind of mad the whole day; I woke up on the wrong side of the bed," the Hernando freshman said.
In many sports, that probably would not be the best mindset to take into an important competition. Maybe an angry player can't be unselfish enough to make that extra pass in soccer, settle down to can a key free throw in basketball or concentrate on a 3-2 pitch.
Weight lifting, however, is an ideal venue for an athlete looking to vent.
"You take it all out on the weights," Daignault said.
In last week's section meet, 240 pounds of metal suffered Daignault's anger. With a 135-pound bench press and 105-pound clean, she placed third in the 169-pound weight class, good for a trip to the Feb. 7 state meet in DeLand.
She will not be the lone Leopard advancing, as Hernando is sending a trio of qualifiers to the finals. Alongside Daignault will be junior Chelsey Buckler and senior Rebecca Torres, one more than the pair Central and Springstead will take.
"We're all really excited; none of us thought we would ever get this far," Torres said.
Torres, the elder lifter but still a rookie like Buckler and Daignault, won the 199 class at the section with a combined lift of 265 pounds. Shooting straight about her motivation for taking up the sport ("I don't like physical sports like running, I figured weight lifting doesn't include running"), Torres found herself consistently improving during the season.
"I started at 75 pounds, every week I started raising my bench max at least 10 pounds a week," Torres said. "I had a few peaks where I couldn't lift any more than that, but I kept working on and on.
Torres' max bench this year is 155 pounds. At the section meet she hoisted 140.
Make that a hungry 140. To make weight that morning she didn't eat anything, then after weighins she downed orange juice and apple juice to get her energy level back up.
"After I got some fluids in me, I was ready to lift," Torres said. "I was really exhausted, but I had to keep my focus."
Hungry, angry, it all works for Hernando weight lifters.
FEB. 7: State meet at DeLand High, DeLand. Local qualifiers _ Chelsey Buckler, Nicole Daignault and Rebecca Torres, Hernando; Mindy Zavesky and Sabreen Margieh, Central; and Christine Alberts and Megan Ryan, Springstead.
_ Compiled by John Schwarb.