Make it 7 for Longhorns
News-Gazette Photo/Andrew Sullivan
Harmony’s Colton Keene makes a lift at 199 pounds at the district competition April 9. Keene, who qualified for the Class 2A state meet, won the OBC championship Wednesday and helped the Longhorns take their seventh consecutive conference title.
Harmony’s depth is the difference again
By Dan Pearson
For the News-Gazette
After a solid performance in last week’s district competition, St. Cloud came into Wednesday’s Orange Belt Conference weightlifting tournament with high hopes of ending the dominance of the host Harmony Longhorns.
Those hopes were dashed as the Longhorns used their superior depth to win their seventh straight OBC crown, 92-69.
Harmony Coach John Wallauer said his athletes have responded to challenges all season long.
“This is the best group I’ve have ever worked with,” Wallauer said. “We are constantly preaching the process and trusting each other in a team concept. We concentrate on hitting all six of our lifts and taking advantage when other teams make mistakes.”
Wallauer added that the title was about teamwork and unselfish attitudes.
“We made a decision to sit two of our regular varsity guys and go with two younger guys. Not only were the two guys who we sat gracious and unselfish about it, but the two guys who got a chance stepped up to grab a second and third place finish and score nine points,” Wallauer said. “It was a typical example of how unselfish and team-oriented these kids have been all year.”
St. Cloud Coach Cory Aun said his team did not perform to his expectations.
“We lost by 23 points, but it came down to the fact that we had two lifters flame out and a third who did not make weight,” Aun said. “Give Harmony’s lifters all the credit; they did what they had to do. But, had we scored in those three weight classes, I think we would have added 19 points to our team totals and we would have taken some of those points away from Harmony, and that certainly would have made a difference. It just seemed like we weren’t prepared today and that’s on me.”
St. Cloud and Harmony each won four weight classes, but it was Harmony’s ability to score multiple points in each weight class that made the difference. The Longhorns placed two lifters in the top four of every weight class (each school was limited to two lifters per class with the top six lifters scoring points) and scored nine or more points in seven of the 10 classes.
The Bulldogs jumped out early, claiming crowns at 119 (Milan Anderson), 129 (Sheldon McInnis) and 139 (Mike Fagan). In the process, Anderson set a new clean and jerk (200) school record in his weight class with a total lift of 370.
The Longhorns countered by winning four consecutive weight classes as Cory Olson was victorious at 154 (245-2150-460); Giovanni Blyden (265-250-515) at 169; Brandon Woodring (280-285-565) at 183 and Colton Keene (295-285-575) at 199.
Rafael Miranda took the 219 crown for St. Cloud with a 575 total (300-275).
Osceola, which finished third in the team competition with 28 points, had champions at 238 in Riley Nicholson (360-305-665) and at heavyweight with Derek Rivers (340-255-595).
McInnis and Nicholson were dominating in their victories, with McInnis winning his weight class by 50 pounds and Nicholson by 95 pounds.
Keene, who finished third in districts, a tied Gateway’s Owens Jaiquan at 199 class with 575 total pounds, but he won based on a lower body weight (195-198).
OBC champions Nicholson, McInnis and Fagan had won district championships a week earlier, while district champions Alexander Forsythe (Harmony 119), Tommy Whitley (St. Cloud 154) and Kaylin Alvarez (St. Cloud 169) failed to follow-up with an OBC crown.
Surprisingly, neither Whitley – who will be among the favorites at the Class 2A state tournament next week -– nor Alvarez placed in the OBC meet.
Gateway (18), Celebration (8), Poinciana (3) and Liberty (2) rounded out the team scoring.
Despite the loss, Aun said he was looking forward to the state tournament. “Both McInnis and Whitley will have a shot at winning a state title and we have never had two champions in a single year,” Aun said. “As a team, if everything goes well, who knows? We have a chance to score enough points to match our state runner-up finish
Harmony will advance six to the tournament. “Our goals are a little different than St. Cloud’s,” Wallauer said. “We don’t have the type of top end talent to contend for a state championship, but we’re happy to be sending six and our goal will be to try to be as consistent as possible and hit our lifts and score as many points as possible.”
Harmony’s Alexander Forsythe (119), Anthony Donato (119), Austin Richmond (129), Blyden (154), Woodring (183) and Colton Keene (199) will compete at state.
St. Cloud’s McInnis is the top seed at 129 pounds, and Whitley is among the top four seeds at 154 pounds.
Also qualifying for the Bulldogs are Moreno (129), Fagan (139) and
Osceola’s Nicholson (219) will try to improve on his fifth-place finish at last year’s state meet.