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Nine local iron men reach states

Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: April 19, 2013 at 03:00 PM

While actor Robert Downey Jr. plays the lead character in next month’s “Ironman III,” nine local iron men will participate in this weekend’s 39th annual FHSAA Boys Weightlifting Finals

The ultimate stage for weightlifting takes place Friday and Saturday at the cozy Kissimmee Civic Center.

Today at 10:30 a.m. Punta Gorda-Charlotte will defend its 2012 Class 2A state title while Blountstown will defend its Class 1A state crown Saturday also beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Trophies will be awarded to the top two teams in each classification and medals will be awarded to the top six individual placers in each of the 10 weight divisions.

Nine Hernando County lifters will participate including two in today’s 2A meet, while seven are expected to perform in the 1A portion of the competition.

Based on the recent district tourney results and the at-large selections both Central and Springstead will each be represented by one lifter today, while Hernando (four), Weeki Wachee (two) and Nature Coast (one) will compete in Saturday’s 1A meet.

The two-time defending Hernando County and 1A-District 6 champion Leopards return to Osceola County with a county-leading four lifters featuring: seniors O’Mar Hawkins at 199 pounds, Kyle Loparco and Robert Hill Bronson at 219, and Canaan Swackard at heavyweight.

Last spring under head coach John Palmer, HHS returned home without anyone scoring a point.

Hawkins came the closest to placing at states in 2012 finishing eighth overall followed by Loparco (ninth), Bronson (16th) and Goodwin (19th).

This year, under first-year head coach Mark Latsko, the Leopards feel it’s their time to excel.

“Experience at states is invaluable,” declared Latsko, who recently was tabbed as the head football coach at his alma mater Gainesville. “We’re fortunate to be bringing four four-year seniors to states; that doesn’t happen very often.

“These guys aren’t brand new to the sport and they understand what the judges are looking for,” noted Latsko. “These guys didn’t get to this level by accident. States is a great way for these kids to end their high school careers. I feel like the hay is in the barn; it’s time to feed the herd.”

Since the millennium, HHS’ best finish at states was in 2005. HHS finished with 19 points to place third overall.

“Can we win on Saturday? I really don’t know,” queried Latsko. “There are so many things involved. I think a top-five finish would be impressive. Bottom line, we all have to have a good day.”

The Leopards’ highest ranked lifter is Loparco, who is seeded fourth. Interlachen’s Jared Makatura is the top seed with a 685-pound total compared to Loparco’s 615.

Loparco, the Hernando County Honor Roll leader at 219, has totaled as high as 650 pounds.

“I wouldn’t worry too much about Kyle,” noted Latsko. “He can throw up the weight. I expect a big day from him.”

Bronson is seeded in a tie for ninth at 580 pounds.

“Robert Hill is a smart and solid lifter. He knows what he needs to do (to place),” said Latsko. “Hopefully, he can get a couple breaks along the way to help him.”

Hawkins is tied for 12th place, out of 18 lifters, with a 565 total. To date, Hawkins has hoisted as much as 580.

Going in, Bradenton-Southeast’s Gage Takacs and Starke-Bradford’s Phillip James have both hoisted 625.

“O’Mar’s numbers are a little deceptive; he was untested at Fivay,” noted Latsko. “He got what he needed to advance. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least to see him go for a 625 total.

“O’Mar’s goal isn’t to place; his goal coming in is to win it,” said Latsko. “Realistically, I think a top-three finish would be tremendous.”

Unlike the other three Leopard teammates, Swackard is looked at as an extreme long shot. Swackard arrives ranked tied for last in his weight behind a 615 total.

“Canaan has been one of those guys that has continually improved,” described Latsko. “Regardless of who he’ll be up against at states, we look for him to just continue to get better. And you never know what will happen until you get there.”

After never being represented in districts the past two seasons, third-year Weeki Wachee will be represented by two lifters at states: senior Thomas Maynard and junior Anthony Dinardo.

Maynard is a two-time state qualifier. Last season he reached states as a member of the Central Bears. He placed 15th at 2A states behind a 490 total.

So far, Maynard has had a magical season. He’s competed in seven meets – and won them all – becoming the Hornets’ first-ever Hernando County and district champion.

Maynard, however, is seeded tied for ninth with a 515 total. His seasonal best is 525.

Fort Lauderdale-Pinecrest’s Andrew Gomez-Rivera is the weight classes’ top seed with a 560 total.

Unlike Maynard, Dinardo is making his first-ever trip to the state’s elite stage.

Dinardo has split time between 169 and 183. In his first four meets at 169, he won twice and finished runner-up twice.

Since he switched to 183, he placed second in the county meet to Springstead junior Austin Stock and captured the 1A-6 qualifier and a 1A-6 title.

Similar to Hernando’s Swackard, Dinardo will face an uphill climb as the 18th seed in his 18-man bracket.

Regardless of the results in Osceola County, third-year mentor Mark Lee is satisfied with his team’s progression.

“It’s amazing to think how far we’ve come in a few years. I remember what Dinardo benched when he was a freshman (125) and now he’s pushing 275-280 pounds,” admitted Coach Lee. “The kids have gotten more and more committed to the weight room. They’ve seen the end results with someone like Thomas.”

On the Hornets’ state goal, “I’d like to see Thomas go out well. Placing at states would be a fitting end to cap a good career,” forecasted Coach Lee.

“On the other hand, Anthony has his work cut out for him,” declared Lee. “He has to take advantage of his first trip to states. I’m excited for both guys.”

For a school-record fifth straight season, Nature Coast will be represented at states.

NCT senior Derek Newman opened the season at 129 placing a humbling fourth in the Sunlake eight-team event – finishing a distant 45 pounds from first-place finisher Jack Holloway of Sunlake, 425-380.

Since that point, Newman has won 4-of-5 meets. His only stumble? He placed runner-up in the Hernando County Championship Meet at Springstead, losing to Central’s two-time state qualifier, Gio Squartino, 420-405.

Newman enters Osceola County seeded in a deceptive tie for 12th with a 375 total. This season, however, he’s hoisted as high as 410.

Palm Coast-Matanzas’ Chris Santana arrives as the top seed with a 510 total.

“Derek has lifted as high as 415. I really think that’s obtainable at states,” noted sixth-year NCT mentor Charles Liggett. “I don’t think him throwing up 415 is outside of his ability. I think he has a realistic shot to place.

“If he has his best day, I think a 410 or better could get him a top-six placing,” added Liggett, who said he’ll be aided by volunteer assistant coach Derek Newman Sr. during the state meet.

“Sure, it’s a new environment, but Derek will be very aware of the situation,” noted Liggett. “His dad will help a lot. He works very closely with his son.”

Springstead will be making its school-record 14th straight state appearance Friday behind junior Jesse Cowan.

In 2012 in his first-ever state meet, Cowan placed 15th overall with a 630 total.

Despite a broken wrist, which Cowan will have surgery on next Tuesday; Cowan has had a remarkable season.

Despite the constant pain, Cowan captured his first four meets before scratching out in the Hernando County Championship Meet at Springstead when he tried to drop down to 219.

Since then he captured his next two events including the rugged 2A-4 Meet again at Springstead. He bounced back from the county meet with a county-leading 660 total at districts.

“The wrist surgery will sideline him for 6-8 weeks,” noted 10th-year Eagle skipper Mike Garofano. “It’s funny. With a healthy wrist, the sky would be the limit for Jesse. He’s doing well and lifting hard despite the injury.

“The biggest obstacle he has is when he’s re-gripping the bar on his power cleans,” noted Garofano. “Technically, Jesse is as sound as they come. But since he’s competing with essentially a broken wrist he has to compensate somehow.

“Personally, I think he’ll be fine.”

Pensacola-Pine Forest’s Gabriel Moultrie enters the meet as the top seed at 238 behind an eye-popping 740 total. Cowan enters seeded tied for third.

“With Jesse’s current status, he’s limited in what he can do,” noted Coach Garofano. “He can’t go 700 pounds like a couple guys in his weight class. I think by his second clean-and-jerk lift he should be in medal contention. On his third lift, I expect him to go as high as he can.”

In one other advantage, the five highest weight classes will perform first at Kissimmee this weekend.

“He’s going early, which helps. He’s not sitting around getting stale,” described Coach Garofano. “I think he’ll be ready.”

Central senior Giovanni “Gio” Squartino at 129 rounds out the Hernando County nine-member delegation at states.

Like Cowan, Squartino is a repeat state qualifier. In 2012, Squartino just missed earning a state medal by placing eighth overall with a 380.

This season, he’s lost twice to Sunlake’s talented Jack Holloway by 15 pounds in the season-opening meet in the Seahawks’ gym and the 2A-4 Meet. In between, Squartino captured all three meets he competed in.

He enters seeded tied for sixth with a 430 total. He’s maxed out at 450.

Fort Walton Beach-Choctawhatchee’s Thomas Forte enters states as the top seed behind a 490 total.

CHS mentor Mike Einspahr did not return a call on this story.

At a Glance

What – 39th annual FHSAA Boys Weightlifting Finals.

Who – Class 2A representatives: Central senior Giovanni Squartino at 129 pounds and Springstead junior Jesse Cowan at 238. Class 1A representatives: Nature Coast senior Derek Newman at 129, Weeki Wachee senior Thomas Maynard at 154 and junior Anthony Dinardo at 183, and Hernando seniors Omar Hawkins at 199, Kyle Loparco and Robert Hill Bronson at 219, and Canaan Swackard at heavyweight.

Where – Kissimmee Civic Center, 201 East Dakin Ave., Kissimmee

When – Class 2A Finals set to begin at 10:30 a.m. today. Class 1A Finals set to begin at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Both meets start with Flight B (top five weight classes, 183 pounds and up) followed by Flight A (lowest five weight classes, 119 pounds and up).

At Stake – Trophies will be awarded to the top two teams and medals will be awarded for the top six individual placers in each of the 10 weight divisions. Blountstown is the defending Class 1A state champion while Punta Gorda-Charlotte is the defending Class 2A state champion.

By the Numbers: All-Time Hernando County State Weightlifting Champions (11)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR YEAR

Sesler, Everett HER 1813/4 3A 12th 1987

Sanders, Damon HER 2203/4 3A 12th 1991

Mobley, Dwayne HER 2203/4 3A 12th 1992

Goolsby, Bryan CEN 238 3A 10th 1994

Goolsby, Bryan CEN 238 4A 12th 1996

Lam, Viet CEN 119 1A 11th 2001

Roberts, Anthony HER 139 1A 11th 2004

Roberts, Anthony HER 139 1A 12th 2005

Chipoletti, Addison HER 199 1A 12th 2005

Magrini, Josh SPG 139 2A 12th 2007

Holmes, Brandon SPG 129 2A 12th 2012

All-Time Hernando County Boys Weightlifting State Meet Results (2000-12)

- Compiled by TONY CASTRO

2012: (10)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Holmes, Brandon SPG 129 2A 12th 280 225 505 1st

Fedor, A.J.* NCT 119 1A 12th 240 170 410 4th

Callaci, Matt CEN 139 2A 12th 250 225 475 7th

Hawkins, O’Mar HER 199 1A 11th 300 275 575 8th

Squartino, Gio CEN 119 2A 11th 190 190 380 8th

Loparco, Kyle HER 219 1A 11th 330 245 575 9th

Maynard, Thomas CEN 154 2A 11th 260 230 490 15th

Cowan, Jesse SPG 219 2A 10th 335 295 630 15th

Bronson, Robert Hill HER 199 1A 11th 290 0 290 16th

Goodwin, David HER 139 1A 10th 195 180 375 19th

* Denotes three-time state qualifier.

2011: (6)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Bailey, Mike CEN 169 2A 12th 305 0 305 14th

Goforth, Chris SPG 154 2A 12th 270 240 510 11th

Noury, Armando SPG 183 2A 12th 375 265 640 2nd

Stevens, David SPG 183 2A 12th 335 285 620 3rd

Fedor, A.J. NCT 119 1A 11th 220 175 395 4th

Sanders, Mike NCT 129 1A 11th 210 200 410 8th

2010: (7)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Sullivan, Steve SPG 154 2A 12th 315 255 570 3rd

Alberts, David SPG 169 2A 12th 290 265 555 9th

Fedor, A.J. NCT 129 1A 10th 220 160 380 11th

Baker, Russell NCT 169 1A 12th 295 220 515 12th

Adams, Eric NCT 199 1A 12th 360 230 590 9th

Parnell, Josh HER 219 1A 12th 310 0 310 14th

Huggins, Robert HER HWT 2A 12th 380 270 650 6th

2009: (7)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Decene, Geovanny SPG 139 2A 11th 245 225 470 5th

Mignoli, Joe NCT 219 1A 12th 325 265 590 8th

Wozniak, James SPG 169 2A 12th 315 255 570 9th

Sullivan, Steve SPG 154 2A 11th 280 250 530 10th

Lascurain Ben CEN 119 2A 11th 205 160 365 14th

Kessler, Clay HER 219 1A 12th 325 225 550 15th

Schafer, Nathan SPG 219 2A 12th 315 0 315 18th

2008: (8)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Sullivan, Steve SPG 139 2A 10th 265 215 480 3rd

Hill, Bradly HER 169 1A 12th 305 265 570 4th

Magrini, Zach SPG 119 2A 12th 215 165 380 8th

Nelson, Stephen SPG 139 2A 12th 245 185 430 12th

Durham, Brandon HER 119 1A 12th 180 0 180 14th

Delgado, Luis SPG 219 2A 12th 330 245 575 15th

McGee, Chad HER 183 1A 12th 305 0 305 16th

Brazeau, Nathan CEN 199 2A 12th 305 0 305 16th

2007: (8)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Magrini, Josh SPG 139 2A 12th 320 230 550 1st

Hartman, Jessie CEN 199 2A 12th 330 305 635 7th (tie)

Smith, Robert HER 154 1A 12th 280 220 500 10th

Magrini, Zach SPG 129 2A 11th 220 155 375 13th

McGee, Chad HER 183 1A 11th 285 0 285 13th

Hill, Bradly HER 154 1A 11th 240 225 465 15th

Linton, Donald CEN 129 2A 12th 205 0 205 16th

Harris, DuJuan CEN 183 2A 12th DNC

DNC - Denotes did not compete.

2006: (10)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Smith, Robert HER 154 1A 12th 295 240 535 3rd

Hartman, Jessie CEN 183 2A 11th 295 310 605 7th

Magrini, Josh SPG 139 2A 11th 300 200 500 8th

Bourguignon, Daniel CEN 199 2A 11th 335 275 610 9th

Brazeau, Mike CEN 169 2A 12th 305 240 545 10th

Ferguson, Chris SPG 238 2A 12th 340 270 610 12th

Singer, David HER 129 1A 12th 215 165 380 12th

Cochran, Justin HER 219 1A 12th 320 245 565 13th

Magrini, Zach SPG 119 2A 10th 200 155 355 15th

Grossi, Tony NCT 129 1A 12th 240 0 240 15th

2005: (10)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Chipoletti, Addison HER 199 1A 12th 410 270 680 1st

Roberts, Anthony HER 139 1A 12th 310 215 525 1st

Singer, Jason HER 119 1A 12th 215 170 385 4th

Sanders, Chad HER 139 1A 12th 260 225 485 5th

Magrini, Josh SPG 129 2A 10th 265 185 450 6th

Sullivan, Jeff SPG 154 2A 12th 305 235 540 6th

Grossi, Tony NCT 129 1A 11th 225 175 400 9th

Smith, Robert HER 154 1A 11th 280 215 495 11th

Leon, Steve SPG 129 2A 11th 235 190 425 10th

DelRio, Hector CEN 183 2A 12th 305 250 555 10th

2004: (9)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Roberts, Anthony HER 139 1A 11th 300 205 505 1st

Sanders, Chad HER 139 1A 11th 245 245 590 3rd

Singer, Mike HER 129 1A 12th 220 195 415 6th

Neiderhelman,AndrewHER 238 1A 11th 350 250 600 6th

Singer, Jason HER 119 1A 11th 195 155 350 7th

Chipoletti, Addison HER 199 1A 11th 350 255 605 8th

Sullivan, Jeff SPG 154 2A 11th 320 215 535 9th

Leon, Steve SPG 119 2A 10th 215 175 390 11th

Magrini, Josh SPG 129 2A 9th 215 175 390 18th

2003: (7)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Larson, Erik SPG 238 2A 12th 350 250 600 12th

Sanders, Chad HER 139 1A 10th 235 205 440 14th

Sullivan, Jeff SPG 154 2A 10th 295 200 495 15th

Dampier, Brandon CEN 219 2A 12th 275 250 525 19th

Leon, Steve SPG 119 2A 9th 185 145 330 19th

Roberts, Anthony HER 129 1A 10th 235 0 235 22nd

Grossi, Tony SPG 129 1A 9th 0 0 0 23rd(tie)

2002: (10)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Lam, Viet CEN 119 2A 12th 240 185 425 2nd

Fenty, David SPG 183 2A 12th 370 250 620 7th

Cassell, Steven HER 238 1A 12th 355 265 620 9th

Hendry, Warren SPG 139 2A 12th 270 190 460 12th

Lewars, Franklin SPG 183 2A 12th 315 240 555 23rd

Kurman, Peter SPG 219 2A 12th 340 195 535 25th

Gay, Eric HER 139 1A 12th 235 165 400 25th

Moss, Jeff CEN 139 2A 11th 255 0 255 37th

Hall, Bryan HER 219 1A 11th 300 215 515 39th

Nhieu, David SPG 139 2A 10th DNC

DNC - Denotes did not compete.

2001: (9)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Lam, Viet CEN 119 1A 11th 230 190 420 1st

Hendry, Warren SPG 129 1A 11th 230 165 395 8th

Moss, Jeff CEN 139 1A 10th 255 190 445 9th

Forrester, Sam HER 238 1A n/a 305 255 560 11th

Fenty, David SPG 169 1A 11th 290 215 505 15th

Cassell, Steven HER 238 1A 11th 305 235 540 18th

Ales, Billy CEN 119 1A n/a 175 150 325 20th

Matejka, Justin SPG 219 1A n/a 305 240 545 22nd

Hedick, T.J. CEN HWT 1A n/a 310 225 535 29th

2000: (8)

NAME SCHOOL WGT CL YR BEN C&J TOT PL

Lam, Viet CEN 119 1A 10th 225 170 395 3rd

Shirley, Ryan CEN 169 1A n/a 260 280 540 4th

Daniels, Jerry CEN 199 1A n/a 305 250 555 13th

Hammond, Matt HER 154 1A n/a 230 185 415 21st

Leonard, Jimmy CEN 169 1A n/a 270 0 270 25th

Hendry, Warren SPG 129 2A 10th 190 135 325 35th

Topping, Aaron HER 199 1A n/a 290 0 290 39th

Zwierko, Mike CEN 199 1A n/a 275 0 275 40th

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