Indians dominate state weightlift action

Lowery: “What we did was unexpected”

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 4/27/22

PORT ST JOE - Leading the headlines for the FHSAA state championship three-day weightlifting festival were the defending Class 1A champion Keystone Heights High School boys team that had almost their …

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Indians dominate state weightlift action

Lowery: “What we did was unexpected”

Posted

PORT ST JOE - Leading the headlines for the FHSAA state championship three-day weightlifting festival were the defending Class 1A champion Keystone Heights High School boys team that had almost their entire team return from last year’s historic state title run.

Keystone Heights coach Lantz Lowery was succinct about his state champions’ ability for a repeat prior to the championship weekend with one clear strategic statement.

“If we all hit our lifts as planned, we should win,” said Lowery, the Florida weightlift coach of the year last year and now a three-time state champion coach (2015, 2021, 2022). “What we did was not expected. I thought we would do well, thought we would win, but what we did was unexpected.”

Prophetic as he is, Lowery got three individual state champions; Ulysses Freed, Logan Williams and Mason Dicks on top of the team title; a resounding 55-17 win over West Nassau with Port St. Joe third at 16 points.

“To tell me we were going to do that, with that score, no way, “ said Lowery. “The morning that we left here to head to Port St. Joe, the kids from the git-go were on, they had the right mentality compete. When I went down the hall at the hotel 4:30 in the morning and they were all waiting on me, I knew they were ready to go.”

In the Olympic Snatch competition, Keystone Heights won again decisively; a 44-20 score with South Sumter as runnerup. Wewahitchka and North Bay Haven were third with 16 point apiece.

Freed and Bryar Schenck were individual champions in the Olympic Snatch competition; with the Indians adding points with key top five finishers; Wyatt VanZant, fourth at 129; Ben Ulsch and Nate Tisdale at 169, fourth and fifth; Tyler Jenkins at 183, second to Schenck; Jayden Goodman, third at 199; Trey Jeffries, second at 219; Caleb Moncrief, third at 238 with Jackson Herman sixth, and, finally, Mason Dicks and Luke Snider, fourth and ninth at Unlimited. Reid Begue was eighth at 129 with Sam Ulsch seventh at 154.

Lowery’s trio of champions in the Traditional competition included Freed, who returned to the team after two years of a COVID year and a torn labrum to get his gold; Williams, a senior who missed his state run last year with a rodeo injury and hit personal bests in all his lifts, and Dicks, who was sixth last year at 670 and jumped to 730 to win by 45 pounds in 2022 to make an emphatic statement after a excruciatingly close region competition.

“I knew it was going to be between me and him (Bolles Branden Black) and I had two personal best lifts for the win,” said Dicks. “I’ve been doing near 365 during the week and I was hitting it in practice. It’s great to go out with a win and be a part of a legacy here.”

Dicks had one of the closest region titles with Bolles’ Branden Black, but his jump was too much for Black to follow as both tied at 700 at regions with Dicks getting the title based off body weight.

At the region meet, Dicks lagged after the bench press; 385-350, but stormed to 700 with clean and jerk totals of 305 to 325 to 350 for the win. Black went 300-310-325.

At state, Dicks crushed his 350 region total with a 365 while Black got just to 375. Black missed on his first two clean and jerk attempts at 310 to force a decision on his third attempt as Dicks exploded to clean lifts of 305, 325 and, finally, 365, to put Black in the red and give Dicks the title.

Williams’ return to the post season after last year’s injury just before districts was simply part of the ornery cowboy’s want to prove his critics wrong.

“I was set to medal last year but got hurt in that rodeo, but I did more rodeos this year,” said Williams. “My mindset was really just to beat Nate. If he wasn’t here pushing me, I almost did not want to lift, but he made me comeback.”

Williams and Nathan Tisdale, second behind Williams, both had to adjust their weights due to an injury to defending state champion Kade Sanders.

“Logan and I both had to make a decision for the team because Kade was out,” said Tisdale, noting he does no rodeo. “I was at 154 earlier and bumped to 169 because the team needed it. I kind of goofed up on my clean and jerk and Logan won.”

For Freed, to just return to the sport was a blessing on its own after a first visit as a freshman in 2019; 12th at 139, got his 2020 opportunity taken by COVID, then got hurt in a wrestling incident and tore his labrum to lose his 2021 shot.

“If you asked me last year when I got injured last year that I would even be going to a state weightlifting meet, I would have never guessed, absolutely not,” said Freed, who while competing for the wrestling team tore his shoulder labrum. “My goal is to compete in the Olympics, so I kept training and doing therapy.”

Freed’s comeback story was daunting even to himself and caused some anxiety.

“My lifts went according to plan at the meet,” said Freed. “My very last clean and jerk I tried to get the school record of 270 with a 275 attempt but I lost focus. I already had the state title at that point.”

Freed also appreciated that his teammate Landon Hosevepian, third in same weight division, was on his side.

“He’s one of the hardest working guys on the team and he pushed me,” said Freed.

For the rest of Lowery’s points, Declan Shine was ninth at 119, Wyatt VanZant was fourth at 129 with Reid Begue sixth; Landon Hovesepian was third in 154 with Freed; Nate Tisdale was second to Williams at 580, just 20 pounds away; Tyler Jenkins was second at 183 with lifter of the day Quinn Raulerson of Union County, the defending 183 champion, winning by 100 pounds; 700-600, with Clayton Kicklighter fifth; the Dynamic Duo of Trey Jeffries and Tyler Anthony-Rozier were again next to each at second and third at 219 separated by 15 pounds; and Caleb Moncrief was second by 20 pounds at 238. Luke Snider was 13th at Unlimited.

Also from Bolles, Kade Frew, a Fleming Island resident and former Lakeside Junior High football player, was second at 199.

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