INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Three Saint Edward’s School weightlifters qualified to compete in the state sectional meet at LaBelle High School, underscoring what head coach Les Rogers called the “fantastic job” done all season long by his squad’s 11 competitors.
“They came (to the weight room) to work hard,” Rogers said. “Most of these guys are football players. If they’re not training with me, they’re working out for coach (Bill) Motta and the football team. That has a big part to do with the work ethic they have developed and it’s spilling over into other facets of their athletic lives.” Despite failing to advance to the state tournament, juniors Lonnie Scott and Juan Santini and freshman Jad Shalhoub all set personal records at LaBelle.
Another success to cap off the season occurred March 23 in a dual meet at home with Florida Air Academy and Jensen Beach High.
“We did win a meet,” Rogers explained. “Normally, the number of kids we have when we compete against full teams makes it very difficult for us to win. Florida Air and Jensen Beach had a similar number of lifters and we matched up well across the board. We were able to score enough team points for us to win, and that was pretty neat for us to be able to do.”
St. Ed’s hosted one other meet this year, and the Feb. 23 contest with Florida Air Academy and American Heritage turned out to be anything but ordinary.
Due to a scheduling conflict, the gym was unavailable. The only option left was to reposition the equipment and hold the event on the outdoor basketball court.
One observer noted that lifting in the fresh air reminded him of being on Muscle Beach in California.
The season concluded with the American Heritage Invitational April 9 in Plantation.
Of the six Pirate lifters competing that day, four earned medals by finishing in the top three in their weight classes.
Scott achieved a new personal bench press record at 280 pounds and matched his previous personal best of 265 in the clean and jerk.
His total of 545 earned him the gold medal in the 238-pound weight class and topped the combined 530 he achieved a week earlier at LaBelle.
“I made a lot of gains throughout the season,” Scott said. “I was hoping to get stronger and have it transfer onto the football field, particularly with the explosive movements from the clean (and jerk).”
Scott works out year round in the weight room. He also focuses on other training aspects that enhance the footwork and agility he hopes to bring to both sides of the football when spring practice kicks-off next month.
Lifting in the 199-pound weight class, Santini placed third with a total of 465 in the LaBelle sectionals and won the bronze with 480 a week later at Plantation.
Santini described weightlifting as a “secondary sport to stay in shape for the football season.”
He found the competition “rewarding, especially reaching the sectionals to see what you’re up against.”
Shalhoub had a little different take on the weightlifting-football relationship.
“I look forward to the weightlifting meets (219 weight class) and I’m honestly not thinking about football during the lifting competition. I’m not only getting bigger and stronger, but I’m enjoying the competition a lot.”
He also recognizes the mutual benefits.
“Yes. I’m trying to get stronger for football,” Shalhoub said. “The intensity on the football field definitely gets me pumped up. The physical contact makes football much more emotional. Lifting is more recreational.”
Shalhoub’s totaled 505 at the sectionals, good for fourth place.
He closed out the season with 510 pounds, good for a silver medal at the American Heritage Invitational.
Rogers said he was pleased team members were making season-long gains and peaking at the end.
“At each meet we had four or five guys achieve PRs. And that was not just in the beginning, but also toward the end of the season as well…That’s a real good sign.”
There’s more to team members than just brawn.
Junior Colby Lufkin, who lifts in the heavyweight class – over 238 pounds – finished first in one meet and placed in the top three several times, setting three personal records.
He was recently honored as a “distinguished finalist” for outstanding community service for his advocacy of abused and neglected children with the Florida Guardian Ad Litem Foundation.
“I like giving back to the people of the community who go without the things my friends and I take for granted,” he said. “It’s a humbling experience.”