FLEMING ISLAND – Select area weightlifters will be focusing on the mental aspect of becoming a state weightlifting champion with Fleming Island’s Tyler Nguyen and Oakleaf’s Jakobie Baker at the top of their respective state seed lists.
“It’s now a matter of mental preparation more than physical,” said Oakleaf High coach Dana Arthur who will be sending four lifters in the top 20 as well as top seed Baker in the 199 pound division. “We try to keep practices as usual for the first of the two weeks, then concentrate on technique, nutrition and recovery in the week prior. This is a big arena for some of these guys, especially the younger ones.”
Lifters head to Panama City Beach’s Arnold High School April 6-7 for the state championships after competing for district and region titles, plus pushing enough weight to be considered as one of the top 20 lifters statewide.
For Arthur and for Fleming Island High coach Craig Nosse, both have lifters that will be returning to be top contenders, with Nosse’s Tyler Nguyen being the top lifter for the Golden Eagles, looking to better a second place finish from last year. Baker, who broke two leg bones last year and missed an entire football season, returns with a fourth place finish from last year.
In 2017, Nguyen was 65 pounds away from leader Justin Scott of Choctawhatchee’s winning 670 pound total while Baker was 70 pounds off winner Josh Piasecki of St. Cloud’s 710 total.
“The whole numbers thing is the hardest part to not think about,” said Nguyen after winning his region title two weeks ago with a sub-par clean and jerk. “Some guys have to lift their personal best to get to state, some guys can get there like me, even with some difficulty. It’s a whole new game at state because you don’t know much about the guys around you and their district and region totals. We have a pretty tough region and most of the lifts are near max.”
Region 2-2A, with Fleming Island, Oakleaf, Middleburg and powerhouses Columbia and Lincoln competes with region 1-2A from the panhandle with the likes of Navarre and Niceville always sending big numbers.
Qualifiers for Class 2A include, from Fleming Island; Ian Ali (10th by 75 lbs. at 119), Nguyen (top seed by 25 pounds at 154), D.J. Pimienta (6th seed by 85 lbs. at 154) and Jackson Bull (12th seed by 150 lbs. at 183).
For Oakleaf, 2A qualifiers include Mike Williams (12th by 85 lbs. at 119), Ethan Gustilo (13th seed by 115 lbs. at 139), Baker (top seed by 25 lbs. at 199), Demonte Richmond (9th seed by 105 lbs. at 199) and Tayari Otis (8th seed by 65 lbs. at 238).
For Middleburg 2A qualifiers include Tanner Nobles (8th seed by 100 lbs. at 154) and Andrew Thomas (12th seed by 100 lbs. at 169).
In Class 1A, Keystone Heights Brandon Spivey, second last year at 139 by 20 pounds, enters as a two seed in the 139 pound division with just five pounds separating the top two seeds; Marcus Dialo of Baker County’s 505 total on top of Spivey at 500.
“Brandon is the only returning lifter,” said Keystone Heights coach Lantz Lowery. “Last year he was second place in the 139lb class. The kids know that success depends on maximizing their six attempts and not worrying about anyone else.”
Keystone Heights, with six lifters heading to state; C.J. Parks (8th seed by 60 lbs. at 129), Spivey (2nd seed by 5 lbs. at 139), Alex Cruz (5th seed by 60 lbs. at 183), Carter Semione (4th seed by 25 lbs. at 219) and Cameron Musselman (8th seed by 50 lbs. at 219) and Dan Dodd (11th seed by 130 lbs. at Unlimited), has annually been within an arms length of the top five teams with Baker County and Madison being perennial powers. Keystone Heights has chased from behind in the past five state meets with top three finishes keying team points ahead of teams with individual champions.
Also in Class 1A, Marcaun Robinson, the region champion, comes in as a third seed at 183 with Orange Park’s lone qualifier, David Araujo, a fourth seed at 199 two top prospects to medal.
“Going into state, it’s time to polish and clean up some of the technical issues and bad habits we’ve developed,” said Clay coach Rodney Keller. “Seeing that fatigue masks fitness, it’s time to back off and allow their strength gains to be revealed.”
Ridgeview’s Narongsak Kunsuwan is fifth seed at 119 with 90 pounds off the top seed total. Robinson is 45 pounds away from top seed Robert Yoakham of Citrus High while Araujo is 85 pounds away from top seed Laetres Bell of Madison County.
In Class 1A, for Ridgeview, also qualifying are Rolando Grey (8th seed by 80 lbs. at 139), Kiaran Turner (20th seed by 145 lbs. at 169) and Trent Coleman (7th seed by 75 lbs. at 183). Grey finished 14th at 129 in 2017.
“We feel like all four guys are in good shape and peaking right now as all four had their best days of the year at regionals and have looked solid since,” said Ridgeview coach Cameron Porch. “Only Grey has lifted at state, but we put a lot of pressure on our guys in the weightroom and have lifted in a couple of big invitationals this year in addition to our district and regions being the toughest in the state in 1A, so I think our guys will be fine going in.”
In Class 1A, for Clay, also qualifying are Sencere Gilbert (12th seed by 100 lbs. at 139), Robinson at 183 and Wilguens Dorvilus (8th seed by 90 lbs. at 183).
“THE most important factors in athletes success is in trusting their training progression, dialing in eating, and getting as much sleep as possible going into the competition,” said Keller.