Stephanie Bass is the first to admit she wasn't in very good shape.
As a ninth-grader, she packed 182 pounds on a 5-foot frame. Her body fat percentage was well above what is considered normal.
"Whatever came to mind, I ate," Bass said. "I was way overweight."
And insecure about it.
"I wanted to change the way I looked," Bass said.
Pushed by friends, Bass joined the weightlifting team as a sophomore. She bench pressed 85 pounds and cleaned 60 in her first meet.
"I was surprised at how much I could do," Bass said.
That was only the start.
Now a senior, Bass has earned county and sectional championships this season and is one of five Hurricanes (including Katie Bombley, Norma Jean Carlile, Maggie Lanigan and Ashley Rawls) headed to next week's state meet in DeLand.
She was fourth at state last year and 14th the previous season.
Bass now bench presses 145 and cleans 165.
"I get such an adrenaline rush (from lifting)," Bass said. "I love the competition, and it's fun at the same time."
Bass' coach, Doug Patton, has not been surprised by his standout's rapid progress. He said Bass listened well when she began and was quick to learn the sport's techniques.
"She paid her dues," Patton said. "She learned how to do it right and worked hard. That's the key."
Bass never has felt better.
She shedded the pounds, and her body fat has dropped almost in half. She plans to join the National Guard after graduating.
"I'm really proud of myself," Bass said. "I'm happy with the way I look. My legs are toned. My body is toned. It's not exactly what I want, but it's better than what I had. This has been so much more than I expected."
INTRODUCING: STEPHANIE BASS
AGE/GRADE: 17, senior.
WEIGHT DIVISION: 169 or 183.
FAVORITE MOVIE: Sweet Home Alabama.
LAST BOOK READ: Keeper of the Heart, by Johanna Lindsey.
HOBBIES: Dancing and reading.
FAVORITE ACTOR: Antonio Banderas.
FAVORITE TYPE OF FOOD: Mexican.
_ Compiled by Keith Niebuhr.