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Central High School

Boys Weightlifting

TONY CASTRO Hernando Today correspondent
Published:   |   Updated: May 7, 2013 at 04:53 PM

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A.J. Fedor

119 pounds

Nature Coast – Senior

COMMENTS: Most decorated male or female lifter to ever come from NCT … Three-year letterman … Three-time All-County selection … Three-time Hernando County champion … Three-time state qualifier and two-time state placer … Captured a school-record 13 individual meets in 19 attempts (68 percent) … Sophomore year was highlighted by wins in Class 1A, Sub-Section VI and Hernando County Meet at 129 pounds … As a junior, captured 5-of-6 meets before fourth-place finish at states at 119 … As a senior, captured six straight meets before again taking fourth at states at the Kissimmee Civic Center at 119 pounds.

QUOTES: "Without a doubt, A.J. would have to be considered as the top lifter from Nature Coast. … It's a real shame he finished (at states) fourth on a technicality. He was called twice for rolling up two of his cleans. I'm not saying that if he'd gotten those two he would have won it, but you never know. There was nothing to appeal. Three judges all said no lift. … Regardless of states, he had a terrific career. Fourth place twice at states is awesome."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Mike Sanders

129 pounds

Nature Coast – Senior

COMMENTS: Rare four-year letterman … Three-time All-County selection … Two-time county champion.… A 2011 Class 1A state qualifier … Captured eight meets in 18 attempts spread across four seasons … As a freshman at Hernando, made a huge splash winning his first-ever meet at archrival NCT … Won three meets as a frosh and finished second in the county at 119 pounds … As a sophomore at NCT, won two meets including first-ever county crown at 119 … As a junior, though he missed most of the season, he won the county meet at 129 and was the 1A-6 runner-up at 129 … In his lone state appearance, he finished eighth overall … As a senior, he opened the season with wins versus Hernando and at the Sunlake quad meet … Placed runner-up at the county meet at 139.

QUOTES: "By comparison, A.J. (Fedor) had to work at everything he achieved. Mike (Sanders), on the other hand, was blessed with God-given strength. He was a natural under the bar. … If Mike had a little more of A.J.'s drive, he could have accomplished so much more. There's a line of guys who wish they had the natural strength Mike has."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Matt Callaci

139 pounds

Central – Senior

COMMENTS: Like NCT's A.J. Fedor, another rare four-year letterman … Repeat All-County selection … Captured nine meets in 18 attempts across four years … Won his first meet as a sophomore versus Lecanto … Finished as county runner-up at 129, losing by five pounds to NCT's A.J. Fedor … Enjoyed a breakout junior campaign highlighted by three wins including Hernando County title at 139 … Phenomenal senior year with five wins in his first five meets … Repeated as Hernando County champ at 139 … Followed with a district championship in 2A-4 Meet at Springstead … Nearly placed in his first-ever state championship meet in Osceola County finishing seventh. Top six earned medals … Went from lifting a total of 285 pounds as a freshman to a career-high 480 pounds as a senior.

QUOTES: "Matt isn't big or very flashy. What he did every day was work hard at his craft. He set his sights on Kissimmee. … For us, he was one of the first in and one of the last out of the weight room every day. … He thrives on competing. He loves getting pushed. … Some guys have that internal motor, some don't. … Matt will definitely be hard to replace. You hope his presence has rubbed off on some of the guys coming back next year."

- Central head coach Mike Einspahr

Thomas Maynard

154 pounds

Central – Junior

COMMENTS: Multi-sport athlete who also plays football … First-time All-County selection … In 2012, Maynard qualified for his first-ever state meet with a career-best 495-pound total during 2A-4 Meet at Springstead … Placed 15th overall with a 490-pound total during the 2A state meet in Kissimmee … As a first-year sophomore, he won his first-ever meet versus Weeki Wachee with a 400-pound total … As a junior, captured three meets (Weeki Wachee, Central tri-meet and Hernando County Championship) … Maynard and Gio Squartino are seen as Bear captains in 2013.

QUOTES: "His state experience should certainly help him next year. … The real key is whether he can continue to compete at 154 pounds. … He's one of those types of kids that doesn't say boo and just competes every day. The more he's pushed, the better he becomes. … The rest of our team was so much better for having guys like Gio (Squartino), Matt (Callaci) and Thomas (Maynard). Hopefully, those guys have helped some of the others push through."

- Central head coach Mike Einspahr

Joe Bachand

169 pounds

Hernando – Senior

COMMENTS: First-time All-County selection … Competed at the varsity level for four seasons … As a freshman in his first-ever meet he hoisted 285 total pounds at NCT finishing third at 139 … As a sophomore, he won his first-ever meet versus Crystal River with a 390-pound total at 154 … In 2011, he captured first place once in six meets, in the Hernando tri-meet … Enjoyed an exceptional senior campaign with three wins (Weeki Wachee, 1A-6 Qualifier and the Hernando County Championship at 169) … Matched his career-best 505-pound total from Weeki Wachee meet during 1A-6 Meet at South Sumter.

QUOTES: "Joe lifted for us for four years. You don't see many freshmen ever lift on varsity, but Joe did. … Has done a great job in a tough weight class. … Was always solid in his bench, improved with age with his cleans. … Kind of a quiet kid; but one we'll really miss."

- Hernando head coach John Palmer

Kenneth Young

183 pounds

Hernando – Senior

COMMENTS: Multi-sport athlete who also plays football … Three-year letterman … First-time All-County selection … Won eight meets in 14 attempts … Had instant success winning his first meet in 2010 versus Crystal River … Captured three meets as a junior including Sunlake Invitational, Crystal River and Hernando tri-meet … Blossomed as a senior with four wins (NCT, Weeki Wachee, Central tri-meet and Hernando County Championship) ... Concluded his prep career with a bang behind a personal-best 540-pound total, good for second in the 1A-6 Meet in Sumter County.

QUOTES: "First of all, Kenneth is extremely dedicated to the sport. … To me, he's a grinder. He's one of the guys that helps me turn out the lights – he's always in the weight room. … He's also a vocal leader. His personality is contagious to his teammates. … It's good to have guys like Kenneth that are excitable and enjoy what they're doing."

- Hernando head coach John Palmer

O'Mar Hawkins

199 pounds

Hernando – Junior

COMMENTS: Tremendous athlete … First-time All-County selection … What a difference a year makes … As a sophomore, Hawkins won one meet versus Crystal River with a 430-pound total. He debuted that season with a 400-pound total at Sunlake … Despite missing three meets as a junior (due to a shoulder injury), Hawkins added prestigious victories at the Hernando County Championship and 1A-6 Meet at South Sumter … Finished eighth in his first-ever state meet in Kissimmee with a 575-pound total.

QUOTES: "Missed football and part of weightlifting season until he was medically cleared from surgery. … Once he returned he made great gains. I think there was some doubt on his part, until he proved to himself that he was back at full strength. … He's very explosive and his enthusiasm rubs off on the other members of the team."

- Hernando head coach John Palmer

Jesse Cowan

219 pounds

Springstead – Sophomore

COMMENTS: Multi-sport athlete who also plays football … First-time All-County selection … Competed on the varsity level in one meet as a freshman totaling 405 pounds for second place versus Weeki Wachee … Had a huge impact in his first-ever complete varsity season in 2012 … Won three meets (Fivay tri-meet, Weeki Wachee and Hernando County Championship) and placed runner-up twice (Springstead quad and 2A-4 Meet at Springstead) … Placed 13th in his first-ever 2A state meet at the Kissimmee Civic Center at 219 pounds behind a personal-best 630-pound total – or 225 pounds more than he lifted his debut the year before … That 630-pound total represents the highest total hoisted by any Hernando County lifter this past season.

QUOTES: "Had an unbelievable season. … Might be the strongest kid I've ever seen at Springstead. … Could be an absolute stud. I expect him to contend for a medal next year. … Works out like an animal. Has tremendous technique and is only getting better. … It wouldn't be a stretch to see him go 700 pounds next year. … Right now he is the future of Hernando County and Springstead weightlifting."

- Springstead head coach Mike Garofano

Derek Moore

238 pounds

Hernando – Senior

COMMENTS: First-time All-County selection … Two-year letterman … Transferred from Hudson when his family relocated to Brooksville … Multi-sport athlete who also plays football … As a junior, Moore participated in six meets winning once – Hernando tri-meet … A year later, Moore captured three meets including Nature Coast, Weeki Wachee and the Hernando County Championship … Edged out Central's Andy Vu on his last clean-and-jerk to win the county title by five pounds … One of the few lifters who raised his total in each meet he competed in during 2012 … Moore placed third in the 1A-6 Meet at South Sumter at 238 pounds behind a career-high 555-pound total.

QUOTES: "Had a terrific season. What I remember most was his last lift in the county meet to beat out Vu from Central. That was a big-time lift! … I think Derek is a better athlete than people give him credit for. To me, his work ethic is what separates him from a lot of other kids. … He's also extremely coachable and he's one of those guys that not only listens, but applies what the coaches are preaching."

- Hernando head coach John Palmer

Canaan Swackard


Hernando – Junior

COMMENTS: First-year starter … First-year All-County selection … Captured three meets (NCT, Weeki Wachee and the Hernando County Championship) … Another Leopard lifter who improved from meet to meet … Hoisted a career-high 575-pound total during the Hernando County Meet.

QUOTES: "Canaan is perfectly built for weightlifting. He has big, wide shoulders and has a low center of gravity. … He's one of the strongest guys in our weight room. … He's a vocal guy and he's real smart. … He's a guy who loves to compete."

- Hernando head coach John Palmer

Lifter of the Year

Brandon Holmes

Springstead – Senior

COMMENTS: Outstanding student/athlete … Graduated from with a 4.1 grade point average … Former baseball player … First-year varsity lifter … First-year All-County selection … Unanimous Lifter of the Year selection … Made a huge impression early. In his debut during Springstead quad, he shredded last year's state runner-up, talented Dean Bui of Sunlake, by 35 pounds, 475-440 … Ended up winning all six meets he competed in (Springstead quad, Fivay tri-meet, Weeki Wachee tri-meet, Hernando County Championship, 2A-4 Meet and the 38th annual FHSAA Finals in Kissimmee) … Entered states as a highly touted No. 1 seed. Departed Osceola County as Springstead's second-ever gold medalist (first since Josh Magrini in 2007) and Hernando County's 11th overall … Set/tied three school records for highest bench (280), clean-and-jerk (235) and total (515) at 129 pounds.

QUOTES: "He definitely has more composure than I have. He's one of those rare kids that are truly driven. … He never left the weight room and all the work he put in paid off. … To me, to go to states for the first time as the No. 1 seed and walk out as a state champion – that means you're pretty special. I don't see how anyone could not vote for Brandon (for LOY). … And weightlifting is only a small part of his story. He's a great student and great kid. … We were very fortunate to have him compete for us this year."

- Springstead head coach Mike Garofano

"The kid did everything you can ask from a lifter. … Give him credit, he walked the walk. To go to the top of the podium and receive a (gold) medal – it shows he was the best. … It's a tremendous achievement. Obviously, Coach Garofano did a great job with a first-year guy. Brandon had the loudest bark and biggest bite at states – he truly deserves this."

- Weeki Wachee head coach Mark Lee

"To go into that pressure cooker at states and win it all is phenomenal. People don't understand what it's like in that scenario. Kids are crazy strong in that gym. … The most impressive thing? You usually don't see one-hit wonders win it all, especially in their first trip to states. … A lot of credit belongs to Mike (Garofano). He did a wonderful job of coaching him up."

- Hernando head coach John Palmer

"Did a phenomenal job. … At first glance, he doesn't look like that big of a guy. … I was super-impressed with his technique. … He was really self-motivated and seemed to stay focused no matter the circumstance."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett

Coach of the Year

John Palmer

Hernando – 3rd Year

COMMENTS: Florida Athletic Coaches Association (FACA) Hall of Fame member for football. … Past Hernando Today Coach of the Year (COY) selection in football … First-time COY selection … Guided the Leopards to 3-1 won-lost mark … Led the Purple and Gold to its first Hernando County championship since 2005. Snapped Springstead's run of four consecutive county titles … Paced the Leopards to their first-ever district championship – capturing the 1A-6 title at Bushnell-South Sumter … Had three lifters qualify (though none placed) for the 1A FHSAA Finals in Osceola County.

QUOTES: "A lot of our coaches deserve the credit for our great season. We didn't turn this around in a year. Every coach – from (Shawn) Bingham, (Mark) Latsko, (Rodney) Byrd, (Mark) Beach, (Tom) Bronson – had a hand in this. The ultimate credit belongs to our kids – they put in the work on their technique and form to get better. … We've got a chance to be even better down the road. Hopefully, the kids will continue to be hungry and want to get back to states."

- Palmer

"Coach Palmer deserves the credit; he's brought them a long ways in football and in weightlifting. There are tremendous similarities. No one had beaten Springstead in a while. J.P. has done a great job."

- Weeki Wachee head coach Mark Lee

"Hernando has put in the time to get better on the football field. It's no surprise that they've gotten stronger along the way. John (Palmer) has done a tremendous job."

- Springstead head coach Mike Garofano

"Hernando's approach to weightlifting is similar to ours. We lift to prepare ourselves for football. As their football team has gotten stronger, so has their weightlifting team. … In both cases, the head coach is the same: John Palmer. He deserves the credit. … Imagine, they've got a good, strong core group of kids that aren't done yet."

- Nature Coast head coach Charles Liggett


2012 Hernando Today All-County Boys Weightlifting Team


119 A.J. Fedor++*** NCT 12th

129 Mike Sanders** NCT 12th

139 Matt Callaci**= Central 12th

154 Thomas Maynard*= Central 11th

169 Joe Bachand* Hernando 12th

183 Kenneth Young* Hernando 12th

199 O'Mar Hawkins*= Springstead 12th

219 Jesse Cowan*= Springstead 10th

238 Derek Moore* Hernando 12th

HWT Canaan Swackward* Hernando 11th

Lifter of the Year – Brandon Holmes$ (Springstead)

Coach of the Year – John Palmer (Hernando)

$ Denotes state champion

++ Denotes two-time state placer

+ Denotes state placer

= Denotes state qualifier

* Denotes Hernando County champion

** Denotes two-time Hernando County champion

*** Denotes three-time Hernando County champion

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