Columbia sends 8 lifters to state meet


Published: Saturday, January 31, 2009 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, February 1, 2009 at 12:25 a.m.

KEYSTONE HEIGHTS — Celeste Gomez won her third straight sectional title at the 183-pound weight class to lead the way for Columbia at Saturday’s Girls Section 4 Weightlifting qualifying meet.

The Tigers had a school-record total of eight lifters place in the top three spots of various weight classes to qualify for the FHSAA state meet to be held at New Port Richey River Ridge on Feb. 14.

Gomez, a state runner-up in each of the last two seasons and The Sun’s 2008 lifter of the year, posted a 410 total to take home the 183-pound crown at the event, which was hosted by Keystone Heights.

At the 119-pound class, junior Tara Stephens, third at last year’s state meet, lifted a 305 total with senior Jessica Bullock turning in a 315 total at the 139-pound class to give the Tigers three individual sectional championships on the day.

Also clinching berths to the state meet for Columbia were Phoebe Johnson (third at 110), Jennifer Kondrach (second at 119), Amber Thomas (second at 129), Ashley Shaw (third at 129) and Alaina Timmons (second at 139).

“This is definitely what we hoped for and expected coming into today, but you never know until you show up,” Columbia coach Mitch Shoup said. “Everybody else in the state is working hard, too.

“You just hope you have a good day. It seems like our team is peaking right now.”

Gainesville coach Steve Bauer was also pleased with his team’s performance as the Hurricanes will be sending six lifters to the state meet. The highlight for GHS was senior Kelly Spradling winning the 129-pound class with a total weight of 295. After second-place finishes in lower weight classes at the previous three sectional meets, Spradling was finallyable to break through, taking the title by a 35-pound margin. She will make her fourth straight trip to the state meet.

GHS also had Ashlee Chisolm (second at 101), Tequina Rim (third at 101), Ariel Freeland (second at 154), Shanika Hunt (second at 169) and Tempest Williams (second in the unlimited class) qualify for state.

“I was hoping anywhere from five to 10 lifters and we got six,” Bauer said. “I thought we lifted really well.”

The most impressive performance of the day was turned in by Citra North Marion junior Lakitta Johnson. The defending state champion at the unlimited weight class clean and jerked 220 pounds and finished with a 485 total to win the sectional title. She topped her state-meet record of 215 pounds in the clean and jerk and her state-meet record 465 total, both of which she set a year ago.

Other lifters to win sectional championships on Saturday included Tyler Wolfe of Buchholz (101), Amanda Paredes of Keystone Heights (110), Union County’s Holli Barnett (154), Bryanna Williams of North Marion (169) and Keystone Heights eighth grader Morgan Boettcher (199).

“I think it was a great day, the girls from every team did an outstanding job,” said Keystone Heights coach Terri Parrish, who hosted her third sectional meet. “The sportsmanship was great.”

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