Peel the local label off the Larry Disparti Law Group's fourth girls weightlifting invitational meet this evening at River Ridge Middle/High School's gymnasium.
According to tourney director and veteran River Ridge mentor Mike DeGennaro, the fourth Disparti Invitational is expanding its state scope.
The host Royal Knights are the meet's three-time defending champions. The meet, which inaugurated with 10 schools in 2010, is again accommodating 20 squads.
Some 350 varsity and junior varsity lifters representing nine counties are expected to compete beginning at approximately 4 p.m. featuring: Belleview, Central, Nature Coast Technical, Punta Gorda-Charlotte, Bunnell-Flagler Palm Coast, Fivay, Hudson, Land O' Lakes, Sunlake, Lecanto, Leesburg, Gulf, Mitchell, Ridgewood, Orlando-Oak Ridge, Loxahatchee-Seminole Ridge, Springstead, Zephyrhills, Weeki Wachee and host River Ridge.
RRHS, which placed 11th at the 10th FHSAA Finals last winter at the Kissimmee Civic Center, will be facing a severe challenge from Palm Beach County's talented Seminole Ridge.
The Loxahatchee-based Lady Hawks placed tied for seventh at states with nine points in 2013 behind three placers.
Coach DeGennaro's squad hopes to repel the expected charge from Seminole Ridge, Charlotte, Sunlake and Nature Coast.
Last winter, the Sunlake Lady Seahawks enjoyed their finest Disparti finish as tourney runners-ups while the NCT Lady Sharks placed tied for fourth with Leesburg.
The finest-ever Hernando County finish was Springstead in 2010-11 - placing as runners-up both years - before dipping into a tie for sixth last winter.
DeGennaro, a former Hudson High standout and former head football coach at RRHS, has guided the reins of the Royal Knights since the sport's inception in 1996.
RRHS warmed up for this meet by recently placing fourth in the loaded St. Cloud Quad Meet.
Despite returning home with two individual gold medallions, the Royal Knights finished with 27 points behind eight-time state champion Port Orange-Spruce Creek (57 points), Charlotte (40) and host St. Cloud (29).
RRHS enters with two returning state qualifiers from last season: Kiara Wood at 119 pounds and Jessica Dunphy at 129/139.
"At St. Cloud we took a lesson in lifting," said Coach DeGennaro. "Last year was probably my best team here. We're rebuilding this year."
On evaluating this year's Disparti field, "Seminole Ridge brings 10 girls to states every year," noted DeGennaro. "They're going to be tough. But so is Charlotte. I think year in and year out, us, Springstead, Citrus and even Nature Coast are comparable to Seminole Ridge.
"On Friday I'd like to see improvement in a tournament atmosphere," declared DeGennaro on his team's focus. "In every sport, you play for the postseason. It's no different in weightlifting.
"This type of meet can be nerve-racking, especially if you're new to the sport," he said. "It's one thing to duel a team in your weight room; it's another to compete in a big setting with 400 fans watching your every move. In years past, we put this meet on for the competition. This time, I want our kids used to something they haven't seen before."
Springstead's veteran skipper Mike Garofano has returned to the weight room fulltime after the Eagles were eliminated in the Class 6A, Region II final in football by talented Seffner-Armwood.
SHS had three Disparti placers last winter including seniors Andrea Purvis at 199 (second) and Ashleigh Ruby at 154 (third), and freshman Kristina McCane at 101 (fourth).
According to Garofano, the Lady Eagles will be bringing 18 lifters, featuring a full team, plus many JV lifters.
SHS will be represented by three current Hernando County Honor Roll leaders in McCane at 101 (90-90-180), junior Isabella Sorresso at 110 (90-90-180) and senior Madeline Genuardi at 169 (140-130-270).
Senior Ty'Rhonza Harris (120-120-240) is also expected to be in the medal hunt at 119.
Julia Monzo captured the Lady Eagles' lone gold medal in this event in 2012 behind an outstanding 120-105-225 total at 101.
"I see a pretty loaded field," described Coach Garofano. "We've never faced quite this level of competition before at River Ridge. These are some pretty elite teams coming this year. I think it'll be exciting for the girls to compete."
As far as a targeted placement, "We're not going to finish in the 3-5 range like in the past, hopefully we're somewhere in the middle," predicted Garofano. "Placements are not as important as seeing individual improvement. We're trying to get back to where we used to be."
Due to graduation, NCT will not return two-time state qualifier, two-time Disparti champion and Hernando County's defending Lifter of the Year Kiana Espinal, nor 2013 state qualifier Jasmine D'Avila.
The unbeaten Lady Sharks will return sophomore Ashley Gentz (second at 110 at Disparti last year), and seniors Alicia Gentz (fifth at 119), Brittney Traudt (third at 139) and senior Rachel Crayton (third at 183).
Both Gentz sisters, Crayton and sophomore Annelise Rentas at 139 are current Hernando County Honor Roll leaders.
Weeki Wachee senior Amber Lake was the Lady Hornets' lone Disparti placer last winter finishing fourth at unlimited.
At a Glance
What - 4th annual Disparti Law Group Girls Weightlifting Invitational.
Who - A total of 350 varsity and junior varsity lifters representing 20 teams are expected to compete featuring: Belleview, Central, Nature Coast Technical, Punta Gorda-Charlotte, Bunnell-Flagler Palm Coast, Fivay, Hudson, Land O' Lakes, Sunlake, Lecanto, Leesburg, Gulf, Mitchell, Ridgewood, Orlando-Oak Ridge, Loxahatchee-Seminole Ridge, Springstead, Zephyrhills, Weeki Wachee and host River Ridge.
Where - River Ridge Middle/High School gymnasium, 11646 Town Center Road, New Port Richey.
When - Today, weigh-ins set from 2:30-3:45 p.m. Meet expected to begin at 4 p.m.
At Stake - Top three teams receive trophies. Top six placers in each of the 10 weight classes score points. Top three placers receive medals; fourth- through sixth-placers receive ribbons.