LAKEWOOD RANCH — Braden River junior Taylor Nardone was a little nervous as she readjusted her grip on the bar in preparation for her first bench press.
She had every right to be. It was her first meet of the weightlifting season — against her school’s biggest rival.
And it was the Lady Pirates’ first weightlifting competition since they lost their coach, Doug Garrity, in a fatal car accident last March.
Those factors coupled with the fact that she was about to bench 100 pounds — the highest starting weight total of anyone in her weight class — was enough to make anyone uneasy.
“I was really nervous, but the nervousness went away after my first bench press,” Nardone said.
Nardone benched 120 pounds and cleared 115 pounds in the clean and jerk for a combined total of 235 pounds.
Nardone finished third in the 154-pound weight class —15 points behind first-place finisher Corey Hanewich — at the girls weightlifting meet Dec. 10 at Lakewood Ranch High School.
“I think I did really good,” Nardone said. “This was our first meet without our coach, so it was a big meet for us because we wanted to make him proud. I think he’s definitely looking down and smiling right now.”
The first girls weightlifting meet of the season featured teams from Braden River, Lakewood and Bayshore. Lakewood won the meet, crowning champions in four of the seven weight classes.
“This was a very informal meet for them to learn the rules, protocol and to see what happens during a meet,” Lakewood coach Mick Koczersut said. “I think the biggest thing for the younger girls was getting that exposure. A lot of people are scared when they hear about weightlifting until they come out and actually see it for themselves.”
Lakewood’s Nikki Green won the 110-pound weight class with a combined total of 185 pounds. Kimberlyn Betts won the 129-pound weight class for the Lady Mustangs with a combined total of 185 pounds.
In the 139-pound weight class, Lakewood’s Alexa Kinder finished in first place with a 95-pound bench press and a 105-pound clean and jerk. Finally, Lakewood’s Corey Hanewich earned top honors in the 154-pound weight class with a 115-pound bench press and a 135-pound clean and jerk.
Senior Glenn Funk led the way for Braden River, finishing second in the 129-pound weight class with a combined total of 175 pounds, followed by Nardone.
Braden River and Lakewood will return to action Dec. 16 when the Lady Pirates host the Lady Mustangs.
Contact Jen Blanco at email@example.com.
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