PORT ST JOE - Caleb Moncrief was given the green light to attempt to secure a state weightlifting title from Keystone Heights High boys weightlifting coach Lantz Lowery, but only after one …
PORT ST JOE - Caleb Moncrief was given the green light to attempt to secure a state weightlifting title from Keystone Heights High boys weightlifting coach Lantz Lowery, but only after one stipulation.
“The greatest thing about this team all season is that they all competed to make the team great,” said Lowery, after his Indians powered their way to the Class 1A team title Friday night in Port St. Joe. “Caleb was 20 pounds away from a personal best and a possible individual state title and I asked him what he wanted to do. He asked me, “Will it cost the team the title if I miss?”
Lowery, who returns 11 of his 13 state lifters next year, answered no because his Indians had already secured their second team title in school history behind two state champions; Zach Glover and Kade Sanders. Moncrief missed on that final attempt at 325.
“He went for it, but did not make his clean (on the clean and jerk), but to have a kid want to be sure that the team was okay if he did not make it was as big a moment for me as winning the title,” said Lowery. “That’s special.”
Keystone Heights, ironically, has been winning team titles at big meets all season; the Suwannee High Invitational prior to the Christmas break, the Clay County championship in their home gym, a district title and a dominant region title to propel the team to the state meet as a clear top three finisher.
“The guys stepped up in big moments at the meet; Moncrief, Sanders, Glover and, in the biggest lift of the day, Kaleb Vojnoski, in the 183 weight division” said Lowery. “They have been doing this all season.”
With Keystone Heights and Mount Dora jockeying for the top team score throughout the meet, with Keystone Heights slightly ahead after the early morning session which included the lower weight divisions, the score started to sway to Keystone Heights as the bigger lifters registered their attempts.
“Kaleb and the guy from Mount Dora (Eddie Romero) started the clean and jerk with Kaleb holding a five pound gap off his 300 pound bench press,” said Lowery. “That put Kaleb in third.”
In the opening bench press, 183 champion, Quinn Raulerson of Union County, set the bar high with a 375 bench press to shock the field.
“We knew then, it was going to be a battle for the top five points,” said Lowery. “Voj opened at 245, but Romero hit 250, then 265. Voj went 20 pounds up and made his own 265 to keep the five pound gap and that was when he jumped over Romero for a seven point shift that probably won the meet for us. Voj almost hit 270, but he had secured our team points.”
Vojnoski finished fourth with Romero fifth in a jump of places that came down to the wire.
In the final point tally, Keystone Heights finishede with 37 with Mount Dora at 30 and Union County at 24.
Within the drama of Vojnoski and Moncrief, Lowery got state titles from Zach Glover at 139 and Kade Sanders at 169. Sanders and Mount Dora’s Evan Shore tied with a 565 total with Sanders awarded the title via his body weight; 164.20 to Shore’s 168.20.
“The guys did a great week of training and weight control and we went to the meet, I think, the lightest we have all season, and that’s an advantage when the meet is close,” said Lowery. “That was just another way this team came together. They helped each other to stay trim and stay strong.”
Both Glover and Sanders opened the competition with big bench presses to set the tone up as a chase to catch them later in the meet.
“We wanted to establish some pressure by getting big lifts on the first lift,” said Lowery. “That gives us a mental edge.”
Glover, with a 250, then 260 bench, held a 15 pound edge into his clean and jerk while Sanders was chasing Shore after Shore’s 320 upped Sanders’ 310 in the opening stanza.
“The Mount Dora kid answered and made us think strategy and we knew where Kade could go on the clean and jerk,” said Lowery. “Zach had the top total for the region so he was confident.”
Shore would again get a slight gap; 235-225, in the first lift, but Sanders went big on lift two.
“We needed a punch,” said Lowery.
Sanders went 25 pounds up on his second clean and jerk to hit 250 with Shore going just 10 up. Shore still held the edge, but both lifters went for 255 with a Sanders green light tying the duel. Shore would miss to get the tie for Sanders and the title based on body weight.
“I lost my voice on that one,” said Lowery. “Kade is a special athlete; very tough minded. He did not go there to lose close and he did what he had to do.”
Glover’s win, by 25 pounds over Union County’s Arthur Brown; 460-435, was not a surprise.
“He’s been just under the radar all season, but our most consistent guy,” said Lowery. “We go as he goes because he sets the tone going forward with the meat our our lineup. None of these guys wants to fail the team.”
In the other weight classes, Lowery got second place finishes to Wyatt VanZant at 119 by 10 pounds with Reid Begue also getting team points with a seventh place finish.
At 139 Glover’s win got added team points with Sam Ulsch’s eight place finish.
In 154, Lowery scored major team points with a third and fourth place finish for Colton Tibbetts and Nathan Tisdale.
“Those two guys push each other all season and today it has paid off,” said Lowery. “We scored two guys in two divisions and that’s the difference.”
At 183, Tyler Jenkins was sixth just behind Mount Dora’s Romero to sandwich team points.
“That was a gamechanger at that point because Mount Dora went ahead a little,” said Lowery. “We were up by two after the first session, then they took the lead. Tyler and Voj moved the needle for us.”
After no lifters scoring top 10s in the 238, Lowery looked to his wild card choice for a big meet; Mason Dicks in Unlimited, as a final point getter for the Indians.
“He has gotten better and strong each day,” said Lowery.
Dicks delivered with a third place 670 total.