If you need someone to do the heavy lifting, call on some very gifted girls from Gulf County.
With a pair of Wewahitchka seniors, Mariah Baker and Landin Johnson, taking home a gold and bronze medal, respectively, at the state championships Feb. 12 and 13, the Lady Gators finished sixth in the state, their best ever in the five years the school has had a team.
And with Port St. Joe senior Gabrielle Nicodemus earning a bronze at the same Class 1A state meet, at Suwanee High School in Live Oak, the weight room floors in Gulf County have been littered with broken records.
“This is the best finish by far we’ve ever had as a team,” said Lady Gator Coach David Peavy. “The previous high was 11th. And this is the first time I’ve had three state qualifiers.”
Baker’s first place finish in the 199-pound weight class, came after she benched a weight of 195 pounds, and clean-and-jerked 170, for a combined total of 365, five pounds more than the runner-up.
Johnson’s third-place finish came in the 169-pound weight class, when a 160-pound bench, and a 170-pound clean-and-jerk, gave her a 330-pound total, 10 pounds shy of the runner-up.
The third Wewa senior to qualify for state, Dominica Dennis, finished just out of the winners stand with a seventh-place finish in the 139-pound weight class. Her 140-pound bench, and 145-pound clean-and-jerk gave her a 285-pound total.
Nicodemus’ third place finish in the 154-pound weight class at state broke a Port St. Joe High School record for most weight, as she secured a 310-pound total, achieving 150 pounds on bench and 160 pounds on the clean-and-jerk.
The Gulf County girl weightlifters’ road to the state championships began with the Jan. 22 districts.
In the 101-pound division, Port St. Joe freshman Miracle Smiley finished in fifth place, as she finished with a weight of 160 pounds, divided equally between her 80-pound lifts in the bench and clean-and-jerk.
Right behind her, in sixth place, was Wewa seventh grader Riley Ferrell, who weighs just shy of 74 pounds, who managed a 60-pound bench and a 50-pound clean-and-jerk for a 110-pound total.
In the 110-pound weight class, Port St. Joe junior Lily Wockenfuss finished third, benching 85 pounds, and clean-and-jerking 95, for a 185-pound total.
Her teammate, seventh grader Lauren Brant finished sixth, benching 80 pounds, and clean-and-jerking 90, for a 170-pound total.
In the 119-pound weight class, Port St. Joe junior Sarah Metcalf finished second, with a 120-pound bench, and a 130-pound clean-and-jerk, for a 250-pound total.
Just behind her, in third place, was her teammate senior Savannah Burkett, who benched 110 pounds, and clean-and-jerked, for a total of 235 pounds.
Finishing in sixth place was Wewa senior Kelly Wolinski, who had a 95-pound bench, and a 110-pound clean-and-jerk, for a 200-pound total.
In the 129-pound weight class, Wewa eighth-grader Katlyn Kemp was fourth, with a 210-pound total, split equally between her bench and her clean-and-jerk.
In the 139-pound weight class, Wewa’s Dennis finished first, with a 125-pound bench and a 140-pound clean-and-jerk, for a 265-pound total.
Her teammate, sophomore Hailey McDaniel finished fifth, with a 95-pound bench and a 115-pound clean-and-jerk for a 210-pound total.
Port St. Joe sophomore Emily Barwick was sixth, with a 90-pound bench and a 115-pound clean-and-jerk, for a 205-pound total.
In the 154-pound weight class, Nicodemus was runner-up, with a 145-pound bench and a 155-pound clean-and-jerk, for a 300-pound total.
Her teammate, seventh grader Brooklyn Bishop, was sixth, with a bench press of 100 pounds, and a clean-and-jerk of 105 pounds, for a 205-pound total.
In the 169-pound weight class, Wewa’s Johnson finished second, with a 155-pound bench and a 165-pound clean-and-jerk, for a total of 320 pounds.
In the 183-pound weight class, Wewa eighth grader Mckenna Young was fifth, with a 90-pound bench, and a 70-pound jerk, for a 160-pound total.
In the unlimited pound class, Port. St. Joe sophomore Madison Burkett placed third, benching 140 pounds and clean-and-jerking 135 pounds, for a 275-pound total.
In the Class 1A Region 1 competition, Jan. 29 and 30, Port St. Joe’s Metcalf took a third place in the 119-pound class, to advance to the state. She benched 125 pounds, and clean-and-jerked 130, for a 255-pound total.
In the 139-pound class, Wewa’s Dennis took third, with a 130-pound bench, and a 145-pound clean-and-jerk, for a total of 275 pounds.
In the 154-pound class. Port St. Joe’s Nicodemus was runner-up, with a bench press of 150 pounds, and a 160-pound clean-and-jerk, for a total of 310 pounds.
In the 169-pound class, Wewa’s Johnson was runner-up, as she benched 160 pounds, and clean-and-jerked 165, for a total of 325 pounds.
In the 199-pound class, Wewa’s Baker took first, as she benched 205 pounds and clean-and-jerked 165, for a total of 370 pounds.
Rounding out the roster of John Simpson’s weightlifting squad at Port St. Joe were freshman Chelsea Bishop, and eighth graders Annalyn Hawkins, Eileen Madrid, Sarah Flowers and Kassidy Acree.
Rounding out the roster of Peavy’s Wewa squad were seventh graders Avery Forehand, Cloe Book, Riley Book, Ja’quina Cummings, Carmin O’Bryan and Summer Armstrong; eighth graders Zoey Ake and Harley Boyatt, and sophomore Sarah Bailey.
Bailey and McDaniel will captain next year’s team. “I expect big things from them,” said Peavy. “I’ve got quite a few young ladies coming back that are going to be really good.”
He said three of the four girls in the school’s wrestling team, a sport newly sanctioned in 2021-22 by the Flo4rida High School Athletic Association, will be weightlifting - Kaley Easter, Keely Roberts and Ashlyn Ake.
This article originally appeared on The Star: Gulf County girl weightlifters flex at state meet