BROOKSVILLE - For the first-time ever Nature Coast Technical's Lady Sharks weightlifting squad successfully defended the top prize in the 13th annual Hernando County Championship Meet Monday evening at the Bears' Den.
This time, NCT utilized its balanced lineup in the five-team field to depart with 15 placers, including four champions, two runners-ups, six third-placers and one fourth-placer to total 68 points.
Hernando finished second (59 points) followed by Springstead (42), Weeki Wachee (36) and host Central (seven). Each school left with at least one champion, except Central.
The meet served as a final tune-up prior to next Tuesday's rugged District 5 Championship Meet at River Ridge Middle/High in New Port Richey.
Interestingly, 9-of-10 top seeds placed first. The lone upset held the most drama.
At unlimited, Weeki Wachee senior Amber Lake, needed to successfully hoist 155 pounds in her final clean-and-jerk attempt. If she missed, Hernando senior Cardeja Baylor, who came into the meet unbeaten, would walk away as a first-time champ.
Lake successfully completed the lift to tie Baylor with a meet-best 330 total. But because Lake weighed in less, the 2013 All-County selection won the tiebreaker to leave as a repeat county champ.
"I thought winning here last year was harder," declared the 18-year-old Lake. "It was my first year and I really didn't know what I was doing.
"I'll admit I was a little nervous," added Lake, who had lost by 10 pounds to Baylor in an earlier dual meet, 335-325. "This (win) was very important for me. Next week, I'm shooting for a 185 in my bench and maybe a 165 in my cleans."
Lake's narrow nod over Baylor did not overshadow the Lady Sharks' impressive performance.
Fourth-year NCT mentor Sharon Elliott garnered the school's first back-to-back titles to complement the back-to-back county titles her Central lifters hoisted in 2002-03.
"I'm very proud of all the girls," said Elliott. "They delivered what I expected and then some."
NCT was paced by four gold-medal efforts, led by senior Alicia Gentz at 119 and Rachel Crayton at 183 along with sophomores Ashley Gentz at 129 and Annelise Rentas at 139.
Alicia Gentz and Crayton have combined for five individual county championships.
Alicia Gentz, who won this event for the third time, staved off a determined charge by Springstead senior Ty'Rhonza Harris, 280-255.
At 129, Alicia Gentz had patiently waited for redemption. Last season, she scratched out in the same gymnasium.
This time, her 130-150-280 total was 40 pounds higher than Weeki Wachee senior Erin Moynihan's 125-115-240.
"I wanted to win this so badly," explained the 15-year-old Alicia Gentz. "I know I didn't do well here last year.
"All I wanted to do today was get my maxs (maximum lifts) in and go hard," she said. "It's a big win 'cause it's a step toward districts. I have to concentrate on my bench before next week."
Last winter, Rentas lost to teammate Jasmyn Davila by a narrow five-pound margin.
This time, Rentas turned the tables by besting her own teammate, frosh Samantha Traudt, 270-230.
On her first-time win, "It tastes amazing, pretty delicious," said the 15-year-old Rentas. "Today my cleans were the best."
Crayton, who placed third in this meet as a freshman, notched back-to-back wins the past two winters.
This time, she toppled Hernando senior Karolynn Hodges, 275-235.
"I thought winning here last year was harder," pointed out the 18-year-old Crayton. "This time, I felt there was more pressure on me to win."
On the meet's importance, "It's not states, but this was still really important for me," she said. "Next week at districts I'm shooting for a 290 total. I really want to go to states."
Hernando High, which last won this meet 10 years ago, was led by top-seeded seniors Tana McDaniel at 154 and Taylor Milligan at 199.
Milligan, who won this meet at 199 by 55 pounds in 2012, finished runner-up to Crayton last winter at 183.
This time, Milligan solved NCT sophomore Kailee Hamilton, 255-230.
"This was hardest win," noted the 17-year-old Milligan. "It's been a long road back since I broke my ankle. I feel like I'm at 100 percent these days."
On where this victory ranks, "It's a '10,'" said Milligan. "Now, I have to focus on districts. I'd like to get 140 on my bench and another 125 in my cleans next week."
The multi-sport McDaniel excelled in yet another venue.
McDaniel, a veteran softball and volleyball player, hasn't lost in her first season of weightlifting.
On Monday, she bested Springstead sophomore Sara Overa for first place, 275-235.
"I've actually lifted on my own since seventh grade," said the 17-year-old McDaniel, who celebrates her birthday on Tuesday. "This (win) is an early birthday present.
"It's exciting to compete in front of so many people," she added.
Six-time Hernando County champion Springstead lost to NCT last winter by 10 points.
On Monday, the Lady Eagles slipped to third despite returning home with three gold medals.
The Spring Hill lifters' lone repeat crown belonged to junior Madeline Genuardi at 169. Genuardi solved Hernando senior Heather Rawson, 150-135-285 to 130-115-245.
By comparison, Genuardi defeated NCT's Brittney Traudt by 20 pounds last winter.
"Winning here was a lot harder last year," detailed the 16-year-old Genuardi. "My bench was pretty big today. Right now, I feel good, but I have to get better for districts."
Like NCT's Ashley Gentz, Lady Eagle sophomore Kristina McCane at 101 had this meet circled on her calendar.
Last year, she misfired on her final two clean-and-jerk attempts, permitting NCT's Audrey Thompson to slip past her, 165-155.
On Monday, McCane gained a measure of redemption by swamping Hernando senior Nikki Patrick by 35 pounds, 190-155.
"Finally," detailed the 15-year-old McCane after hearing the final scores. "It was kind of tough after I scratched. I had a year to think about this one. This is pretty big. I just keep checking things off my to-do list."
On what her next step is, "I feel good, but I want to go up in both my bench and my cleans - not just in one area."
Another first-time Lady Eagle champion was junior Isabella Sorresso at 110. Like McCane, Sorresso finished second in this meet last winter.
This time, Sorresso opened up a 20-pound cushion after the bench press and never looked back to topple Weeki Wachee sophomore Calleigh Brannan, 195-175.
"This feels so good, because I've been working so hard," insisted the 16-year-old Sorresso. "I work out with Kristina (McCane) most of the time. I'm like her, I don't want to just get better in my cleans or my bench - I want to go up gradually in both.
"I think we do a real good job of encouraging and pushing each other," she added. "We're kind of like a team within a team. My goal at districts is reaching 100 in both my bench and cleans."
13th annual Hernando County Championship Meet
(Top six lifters score points based on 7-5-4-3-2-1).
Final team results: 1. Nature Coast Technical (NCT) 68, 2. Hernando (HER) 59, 3. Springstead (SPG) 42, 5. Weeki Wachee (WW) 36, 5. Central (CEN) 7.
101 - 1. Kristina McCane (SPG) 95-95-190, 2. Nikki Patrick (HER) 75-80-155, 3. Miranda Varner (HER) 75-70-145, 4. Selena Backrog (CEN) 75-70-145.
110 - 1. Isabella Sorresso (SPG) 100-95-195, 2. Calleign Brannan (WW) 80-95-175, 3. Kaitlyn Glynn (NCT) 85-80-165, 4. Kaitlyn Batten (HER) 75-90-165, 5. Daitona Vanslee (WW) 80-70-150.
119 - 1. Alicia Gentz*** (NCT) 135-145-280, 2. Ty'Rhonza Harris (SPG) 130-125-255, 3. Brianna Horn (NCT) 115-115-230, 4. Kalysta Matheus (WW) 90-110-200, 5. Brianna Lawing (WW) 100-95-195, 6. Sierra Wells (HER) 105-85-190.
129 - 1. Ashley Gentz (NCT) 130-150-280, 2. Erin Moynihan (WW) 125-115-240, 3. Rabecca Crayton (NCT) 105-100-205, 4. Ashlee Cavanaugh (HER) 95-100-195, 5. Griselda Herrera (HER) 90-90-180, 6. Jesica Roman (SPG) 90-85-175.
139 - 1. Annelise Rentas (NCT) 125-145-270, 2. Samantha Traudt (NCT) 110-120-230, 3. Andrea Crespo (CEN) 115-110-225, 4. Isabella Laughinghouse (HER) 95-105-200, 5. Cheyenne Bragg (HER) 90-90-180, 6. Kayleigh Eichenlaub (SPG) 95-75-170.
154 - 1. Tana McDaniel (HER) 130-145-275, 2. Sara Overa (SPG) 120-115-235, 3. Brittney Traudt (NCT) 115-110-225, 4. Talyria Preston (NCT) 100-115-215, 5. Bailey Brannan (WW) 100-85-185, 6. Diamond Burley (SPG) 85-90-175.
169 - 1. **Madeline Genuardi (SPG) 150-135-285, 2. Heather Rawson (HER) 130-115-245, 3. Naadirah Austin (NCT) 115-120-235, 4. Brooke Spaulding (WW) 115-105-220, 5. Christina Magrini (SPG) 100-100-200, 6. Jessica Chavez (NCT) 95-90-185.
183 - 1. **Rachel Crayton (NCT) 145-130-275, 2. Karolynn Hodges (HER) 130-105-235, 3. Taylor Day (HER) 110-105-215, 4. Ashley Pinkul (WW) 95-90-185, 5. Haydn Feinberg (NCT) 80-95-175, 6. Autumn Dellucco (SPG) 85-75-160.
199 - 1. **Taylor Milligan (HER) 135-120-255, 2. Kailee Hamilton (NCT) 115-115-230, 3. Jordan Moorman (WW) 100-105-205, 4. Jessica Barker (HER) 90-110-200, 5. Melanie Rivera (SPG) 90-75-165.
UNL - 1. **Amber Lake (WW) 175-155-330, 2. Cardeja Baylor (HER) 190-140-330, 3. Yesenia Chavez (NCT) 155-135-290, 4. Justine Peppe (SPG) 140-110-250.
*** Denotes three-time Hernando County champion.
** Denotes two-time Hernando County champion.
By the Nnumbers: All-Time Hernando County Girls Weightlifting Team Champions
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
YEAR SCHOOL HEAD COACH PTS.
2002 Brooksville-Central Sharon Elliott 57
2003 Brooksville-Central Sharon Elliott 65
2004 Brooksville-Hernando Jim Derrico 42
2005 Brooksville-Central Cliff Lohrey 47
2006 Brooksville-Central Cliff Lohrey 55
2007 Spring Hill-Springstead Cecilia Page 43
2008 Spring Hill-Springstead Mike Garofano 61
2009 Spring Hill-Springstead Mike Garofano 52
2010 Spring Hill-Springstead Mike Garofano 60
2011 Spring Hill-Springstead Mike Garofano 73
2012 Spring Hill-Springstead Mike Garofano 78
2013 Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical Sharon Elliott 67
2014 Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical Sharon Elliott 68
All-Time Individual Hernando County Champions (2004-14)
- Compiled by TONY CASTRO
RK. SCHOOL NO.
1. Spring Hill-Springstead 43
2. Brooksville-Nature Coast Technical 24
3. Brooksville-Hernando 22
4. Brooksville-Central 19
5. Weeki Wachee 2