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East County Thursday, Apr. 30, 2009 11 years ago

Pirate Power

by: Jen Blanco Sports Editor

BRADEN RIVER — He already holds Braden River’s single-game rushing record.

Now, Tevin Bryant can scribble his name into the history books one more time.

The junior weightlifter captured the Pirates’ first state crown after winning the state title in the 219-pound weight class at the Class 1A Boys State Weightlifting Meet April 25 at River Ridge High School.

Bryant benched 365 pounds and lifted 315 pounds in the clean and jerk for a combined lift of 680 pounds, edging past second-place finisher Devon Palombo of Hudson High by 20 pounds.

Bryant advanced to the state meet last season, finishing fifth in the 238-pound weight class. After dropping 15 pounds and improving both his bench press and clean and jerk, Bryant was able to set an even higher benchmark for Braden River’s weightlifting program.

But Bryant wasn’t the only Pirates lifter to advance to the state meet. Competing alongside Bryant were Chris Wong (119), Carmello Scalone (169), Thomas Ely (183), Casey Hunt (199) and Nick Gaines (238).

“We’re competing in extremely competitive weight classes, but they’re all seeded in the top five,” coach Josh Hunter said prior to the meet. “They’re all experienced, and I expect us to go and be very competitive and challenge to be one of the top teams in the state.”

For Scalone, it was his first trip to the state meet after he fell just short of qualifying for last year’s meet.

“It means a lot,” the senior said. “I was disappointed last year because I worked so hard and missed going by five pounds. So I’m looking to win this year to make up for the past three years because this is the last big thing that I have to show for high school.”

Scalone finished in eighth place with a combined lift of 580 pounds. Gaines also closed the book on his high school weightlifting career. Gaines finished in fifth place with a combined lift of 650 pounds, improving on his eighth-place finish last season.

“This season meant a lot because I was able to come back and finish first in every meet, which was a very big accomplishment, and really help my team out a lot,” Gaines said.

Ely finished in fifth place with a combined lift of 615 pounds, followed by Wong in sixth place with 365 pounds and Hunt in ninth place with 600 pounds. Overall as a team, the Pirates finished in a tie for fifth place with Interlachen.

“They’ve all done a really good job this year,” Hunter said. “They’ve improved, maintained their weight and have all gotten stronger.”

Braden River wasn’t the only East County school making a name for itself at the state meet last week. Lakewood Ranch sent a pair of lifters to the Class 2A Boys State Weightlifting Meet April 24.

Junior Steve Birakis advanced to the state meet for the second consecutive season. After finishing 10th in the 183-pound weight class last year, Birakis was eager for another shot at the state title.

“I would’ve been disappointed not to have advanced,” Birakis said. “My goal this year is to place in the top three, and I definitely think it’s doable.

“We’re like the big little kids,” he added. “At other events we’ve been able to keep up with every weight class except the heavyweights, but our weight class is really competitive.”

Last week, Birakis finally met his goal, finishing second with a combined lift of 650 pounds — just 40 pounds shy of the state champion.

Joining Birakis at the state meet was first-year lifter Mike Myers. However, the 169-pound junior’s road to the state meet wasn’t quite as smooth as Birakis. After leading by 25 pounds at the sectional meet, Myers failed to make a lift and spent the next day wondering whether or not he would be able to compete.

“In the sectional I tried to lift more weight than I should have,’ Myers said. “I was winning by 25 pounds and I just wasn’t thinking, so then I just had to sit and wait on a decision.”

Myers finished 11th in his weight class with a bench press of 315 and a clean and jerk of 245 for a combined lift of 560 pounds.

Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].

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