Seven in winner circle as state weightlifters compete

Gulf County placed seven weightlifters in the winner circle
Friday, as the Florida High School Athletic Association’s 2021 Boys
Weightlifting State Championships for Class 1A got pumped into action at Port
St. Joe High School’s R. Marion Craig Coliseum.

In addition, Wewahitchka finished fourth in the state, with
Keystone Heights winning the title, as expected.

As expected, Wewahitchka junior Treston Smith, after benching
320 pounds, the highest in the 154-pound class, then won the gold with his
first clean-and-jerk, for 240 pounds. He dominated the field with a 560 total,
well below his personal record.

Having secured the state title, Smith then took a shot at
260 pounds on his second try, a weight that he usually clears with ease.
“That’s an everyday thing,” he said.

“I got loose on the bottom of my clean,” he said. “I stood
up with it luckily, lightheaded, and when I went to jerk it I didn’t get the
drive that I normally do.”

On his third and final try, Smith took a shot at a 600 pound-total,
upping the ante with a 280-pound try, but couldn’t nail it.

“I feel good but I didn’t get the total I wanted,” he said.
“I still won by 40 pounds. It’s more of a personal thing, a fight against

“It’s a lot of pressure too with everybody around,” he said.

As he walked off the winners’ stand, Superintendent Jim  Norton offered his a handshake and praise on
behalf of the Gulf County Schools, which is hosting the tourney in a shared
arrangement between Port St. Joe and Wewa high schools. “You made this entire
community proud,” said Norton.

Wewa junior Alex Williams took the gold in the 199-pound
class, on the strength of a 300-pound clean-and-jerk that was that was 15
pounds better than the nearest competitor. With a 320-pound bench press, he
trailed by 10 pounds going into the second phase of the competition.

Wewa senior Keegan Calhoun, took the silver medal in the
129-pound weight class, six months after he began his recovery from a possible
season-ending broken bone sustained during football season.

“We got the total we were aiming for,” said Calhoun. “We probably
could have gone a little higher but we wanted to stay down there to secure
second place. First place was not an option.

Calhoun had benched 225, 45 pounds below the gold medalist,  and his goal in the clean-and-jerk was 205, but
he and coach Bobby Johns decided against chancing it on his third and final

“I just had to get 200 so we decided to just chill there and
get second place. I’m fine with second,” he said. “Everything happens in life
and you have to deal with it. We worked all this time and second place was what
we were aiming for, and I’m happy about it,” he said.

In the 219-pound class, Port St. Joe sophomore Saylor Tull
took the silver, nailing all six of his lifts, for a 610-pound total, 10 pounds
shy of the winner.  His 325-pound bench
was 10 pounds shy of the top mark, while his 285-pound clean-and-jerk was 20 pounds
below the other best performance.

In the 238-pound class, Wewa senior Christian Mann took
fourth, with a 610-pound combined total. After posting a 350-pound bench, he
nailed a 250-pound clean-and-jerk, but went for it all with two tries at 285,
but was unsuccessful at both.

Port St. Joe got on the leaderboard as sophomore Tad Russell
placed sixth in the 169-pound weight class.

To earn that, he set two personal records, benchpressing 280
pounds, and then hoisting 240 pounds above his head for a combined 520-pound
total, pounds better than he did at regionals where he was runner-up.

Russell plans to pursue his goal of a state title over the
next two years. “I’m going to continue,” he said. “I’m going to finish what I

Wewa junior Tremaine Booker also competed at 169, but missed
a chance to place among the finishers.

In the 183-pound class, Wewa sophomore Joey Salerno competed
in the 183-pound class, and put together a 265 bench, and 240-pound
clean-and-jerk, for a 505-pound total.

Port St. Joe junior Aidan Gainer took a sixth place in the
199-pound class, with a 560 total, similar to a slightly slimmer fifth place
finisher. Gainer had a 310-pound bench, but missed 320 on his third try. He
nailed his 250-pound clean-and-jerk on his third and final try.

Wewa junior Durden Braxton finished just out of the money in
the 199-pound class, with a combined 530-pound total.

The Class 2A competition ran all day Saturday at Port St.
Joe High School, finishing up a busy weekend for both schools and their scores
of volunteer parents, teachers and students.

was a homerun!” said Norton.
“Not only did it benefit both the Wewahitchka and
Port St. Joe students and athletic departments, but it also showcased our
community. I am especially touched by the tremendous support we received
from the businesses in our community. 

faculty staff that facilitated the event reported nothing but rave revues from
the participants and attendees,” he said. “Many thanks go out to a lot of
people that helped undertake this endeavor, including Wewa head coach Bobby Johns
and Port St. Joe head coach Tanner Jones.”

Adrian Glass, with the Tourist Development Council, said the
TDC is still collecting data on the economic effect of the state tournament.

“I was a great partnership with the schools and the TDC, we
all worked well in getting the event together,” she said.

The effort including giving out 400 backpacks, complete with
visitors guide to the student athletes.

Because of the demand, the overflow for accommodations extended
to Bay and Franklin County, including the entire Palatka team staying in
Carrabelle on the river.

Among those visitors were Tana Green and Troy Williams, here
to watch their son Wyatt Green compete in the 154-pound class for Bishop Verot.
They ended up staying in Bay County.

They sat in the stands behind the parents of Treston Smith,
the runaway state champ in that event, so it was quite a contrast.

“His freshman year he made a goal and he did his best to get
there,” said Tana Green

And so Wyatt Green was the lone state representative for the
fledging program, which was resuscitated by Verot alumnus coach Jim Mohring.
Green didn’t set the world on fire with his performance at state, but he proved
to himself and his family that he had the guts to get there.,

“We didn’t expect him to bring home a medal,” said mom. “We
just wanted him to do his best and have fun.”

Meet the Editor

David Adlerstein, The Apalachicola Times’ digital editor, started with the news outlet in January 2002 as a reporter.

Prior to then, David Adlerstein began as a newspaperman with a small Boston weekly, after graduating magna cum laude from Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts. He later edited the weekly Bellville Times, and as business reporter for the daily Marion Star, both not far from his hometown of Columbus, Ohio.

In 1995, he moved to South Florida, and worked as a business reporter and editor of Medical Business newspaper. In Jan. 2002, he began with the Apalachicola Times, first as reporter and later as editor, and in Oct. 2020, also began editing the Port St. Joe Star.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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