By Randy Lefko
LIVE OAK – Clay High girl’s weightlifting coach Rodney Keller took his lumps from a dual meet loss to Oakleaf a week ago by exacting some Iron Blue Devils’ raw power with a second-place team finish at the Power of Christmas Weightlifting Invitational held Saturday at Suwannee High School.
“The quality of the programs in Clay County is incredible,” said Keller. “For us, it’s about getting back in the room and keeping our heads down in preparation for this meet and our big picture goals in January.”
With the likes of six-time state (2A and 3A) champion Navarre High School on hand and Clay, last year’s 2A champions, plus host Suwannee, the 1A champions; Sunlake High, the 2A champions in 2019 and 2020; plus Leesburg, 2A runner-ups 2019 and 2020; plus River Ridge, the 1A champions 2016 thru 2018, Keller and his champion girls showed up to show out and, led by super sophomore Emma Heck, voted the best lifter of the day in both Traditional and Olympic disciplines, Clay answered the call with a second-place finish to Navarre, 42-32 with Suwannee third at 27 in the Traditional disciplines. The top 10 included, in order, Niceville, Leesburg, Sunlake, River Ridge, Ridgeview, Oakleaf and Flagler Palm Coast.
The same trio finished 1-2-3 in the Olympic discipline with a 37-32-27 score roster with Niceville, Leesburg, Sunlake, River Ridge, Ridgeview, Oakleaf and Flagler Palm Coast finishing out the top 10.
For Clay, Janiyah Stevens was in top three for best lifter of the day along with Heck; third in traditional, fifth in Olympic.
In Olympic, Ridgeview 119 Adriana Dimeo was fourth best lifter of the day with Oakleaf’s Ivy Gunn number six. Clay unlimited 2A champion Kyleigh LaFary was 10th best lifter of the day.
In traditional, behind Heck was Stevens in third, Fleming Island’s Autumn Leviston in fourth, Dimeo in eighth and LaFary in 10th.
In Tradition finishes, Dimeo won at 119 with Fleming Island’s Bradi Johnson seventh.
At 154, Stevens won with Gunn second at 169.
At 110, Leviston won with Ridgeview’s Ania Haber fourth.
At 139, Clay’s Anna Shepard was fourth with Fleming Island lacrosse ace Jillian Labelle ninth.
At 183, Anna Lee Harbison, who was returning to full strength, was second by just five pounds.
Heck won at 129 decisively in both disciplines with totals of 365 and 380 with runner-ups at 310 and 335, respectively. Heck was successful at all three of her lifts in each discipline with 160 in Olympic Snatch, 205 in Clean and 175 in Bench Press.
In the Unlimited, LaFary was dominant with lift bests of 165, 205 and 220 to push past two Suwannee challengers; Autumn Latrielle and Savannah White.
Also at Unlimited, Clay got fourth place points from Kinya Tinajero with Fleming Island’s Taylor Thompson ninth.
In Olympics, at 110, Haber was second by just 10 pounds with Leviston fifth.
Dimeo won at 119 with Fleming Island’s Bradi Johnson sixth.
Heck won 129 by 55 pounds while Shepard took second at 139.
Stevens won at 154 with Gunn winning at 169. Harbison was fourth at 183.
At Unlimited, Lafary and Tinajero went first and fourth again.