ORANGE PARK - Ridgeview High won back-to-back lower weight classes; Vishaw Patel and Aysia Hill, and Clay High got dominating wins in the heavyweight divisions; Lindsey Brooks, at 199 with a repeat title, and Kailah McKean, plus a near miss by Sam Migliore at 110, to oust one of two region girls weightlifting titles back to Clay County with the dismantling of powerhouses such as Baker County and Union County in Thursday's region weightlifting championships in the Ridgeview High gymnasium.
Teams will travel Fri.-Sat., Feb. 14-15 to Arnold High in Panama City Beach to compete in the Class 1A (Fri., Feb. 14) and Class 2A (Sat., Feb. 15) championship matches. Clay was third in 1A last year behind Arnold and Leesburg with one state champion; Brooke Berger at 154, with Union County fourth and Baker County fifth. Ridgeview finished with zero points.
"I think Union County and Baker County have a few great lifters, but our team is strong top to bottom to get the team points without winning a bunch of titles," said Hill, noting just one weight class scored no points for Ridgeview. "If we put two or three girls in the top six, that's good team points and then one or two individual titles is better. Three, like tonight, is even better."
Ridgeview won with 57 points with Baker County second at 43 and Union County third at 37.
Clay advances six lifters to the state meet.
"Lindsay and Kaila are great friends and training partners," said Clay coach Rodney Keller. "They and the rest of the team truly punch the time clock, as we say, and now we get one more big meet to go out and try to have a great time."
For Ridgeview coach Trentin Davis, the rise of his Panthers teams comes with a strong summer program and adding lifters to weight classes. Having Clay High pushing the girls will make the state meet even that more exciting.
"I think gaining the pieces in different weight classes made a huge difference," said Davis. "We are taking the weekend off to prepare for a hard week of prep; six days straight. Clay is a very strong team and Coach Keller has them at their peak at this time of season so my girls have to have the same state of mind."
At region 2-2A, Oakleaf, Middleburg and Fleming Island had to watch host Flagler Palm Coast dominate the top of the divisions with six titles, but battled back with the Knights' Tamira Briley, 10th in 110 last year with a 270 total, and the Broncos' Atlantis Clinkscale finishing third and fourth at 119 by just 15 pounds (290-275 totals) with Briley missing on her first two bench press attempts to set up a dramatic finish.
Top area finisher in region 2-2A was Oakleaf High's Gabby Willits at 199 who took second behind Flagler's Anniel Buchanan by 30 pounds. Buchanan was third at 199 last year. Willits totaled 320 in the 183 division last year for 11th. Middleburg also sends Kaitlyn Griffin at 199.
In region 3-1A, Ridgeview won a third individual title with Kylie Zitkus winning at 199 pounds. Also in 199, Kenyatte Hogan finished third for Ridgeview team points. Orange Park's Ysabella Luperico finished sixth at 199.
At the heavy weights, with Union County super lifter Mahailya Reeves, the defending state champion, hoisting an incredible 545 pound total (same as gold medal total last year); 340 bench and 205 clean and jerk, the team points for the Lady Panthers came from Kayla Brown and Sydney Porter at third and fourth.
"Our focus will be on adding more mass to our lifts and raising the bar in everything we do," said Davis. "The girls are ready to accept tired muscles and demanding hours but they are ready."
For Clay High, in region 4-1A, the chase for Class 1A supremacy was aided by the uprise of Ridgeview as a legitimate challenge, but also a different route this year with Clay and Baker County in new districts.
Nayeli Trejo at 154 and Nadyia Jones at 129 also won titles; Jones by 15 pounds, Trejo by just five pounds with a decisive 160-145 pound difference on the clean and jerk the difference maker. Janiyah Stevens (at 139) is Keller's first freshman to advance to the state meet.
"I have to recognize all of these girls," said Keller. "The only way that you can really understand the amount of work that they put in is to see it each day."
At 110, Migliore, a state qualifier last year with a second place region finish, equaled the lifts of Belleview's Hannah Collett; 130 bench, 140 clean and jerk, but weighed in heavier and finished second for the Lady Blues. Collett was third in 1A last year. Migliore did not score at the state meet last year
Class 1A area qualifiers (either region champions or at-large by weight advance)
110: Top lift total 290 (Region 2-1A champion Mattilyn Marsee, Suwannee High, fourth in 119 last year at 270); Clay Sam Migliore 270
119: Top lift total 350 (Region 2-1A champion Nikke Richards, Altha (119 runnerup last year at 300): Ridgeview Vishwa Patel (270, region 3-1A champion), Emma Bonifacio RHS 245
129: Top lift total 365 (Emily Bennett Arnold, Region 1-1A champion, 139 champion last year at 360); Aysia Hill RHS (Region 3-1A champion, 330), Nadyia Jones CHS (Region 4-1A champion, 290)
139: Top lift total 320 (Tyra Kalandyk, Suwannee, Region 2-1A champion, seventh in 139 last year at 290); Janiyah Stevens CHS 260
154: Top lift total 360 (Amerie Daniels, Arnold, Region 1-1A champion, second at 169 last year at 345); Nayeli Trejo CHS (Region 4-1A champion, 305)
199: Top lift total 375 (Lindsey Brooks CHS Region 4-1A champion, third at 199 last year at 350); Kylie Zitkus RHS (Region 3-1A champion 315)
Unlimited: Top lift total 545 (Mahailya Reeves, Union County, Region 3-1A champion, Unlimited champion last year at 545); Kailah McKean CHS (Region 4-1A champion 430, 14th last year at 355); Kayla Brown RHS 345; Sydney Porter RHS 345
Class 2A area qualifiers (either region champions or at-large by weight advance)
119: Top lift total 345 (Jillian Malphurs, New Smyrna Beach, Region 3-2A champion, second last year at 119 at 350); Tamira Briley OHS 290 (10th last year at 110 at 270); Atlantis Clinkscale MHS 275
199: Top lift total 400 (Melaina Bryant, Niceville, Region 1-2A champion, 199 state champion last year at 390); Gabby Willits OHS 360 (11th at 183 last year at 320); Kaitlyn Griffin MHS 345 (10th at 183 last year at 325)