It is hard to tell who was happier at the regional weightlifting meet last Saturday in LaBelle.

Was it the Lady Bulldog lifters ... or coach Rayna Henry?

After tying for fifth place in the district meet the week before, the Bulldogs faced the best lifters from other districts in regional action. They didn’t disappoint coach Henry, however, as the Bulldogs brought home three medals and finished just two points out of eighth place in the 18-team field. The teams came all the way from the Keys to Delray Beach in a very large regional.

M’alee Sauvey finished sixth and was surprised when her name was called for a medal. “I really didn’t expect it because I didn’t do my best today. I tried to lift heavier but couldn’t get it,” said the second-year lifter. She finished with a total of 225 pounds.

Yasmeen Martinez is a junior in her first year of lifting. She had a very strong season capped off by her sixth-place finish at the regional meet. She reached a new PR (personal record) in the bench press at 115 pounds. Martinez totaled 230 pounds. Her big smile showed her pride in what she had achieved in her first year in the sport.

“I was really surprised because I scratched twice on my clean and jerk ... but in my last lift I got 115 pounds. My max is 120. But next year I’ll pass that, for sure,” said Martinez.

Iyona Wesley is also a junior in her first year as a lifter. Wesley had a 120 in the bench and tied her PR with 130 pounds in the clean and jerk. Her 250 total was the highest for any DeSoto lifter at the meet, good for fourth place and giving the Bulldogs four points in team standings. Wesley’s pride and sense of achievement were evident with her ear-to-ear smile.

“Oh, I made it.” That was her first reaction to hearing her named called as the fourth best lifter in the region. “I was surprised. This is my first year and I can’t wait to lift again next year,” said Wesley.

Perhaps the biggest smile and sense of achievement came from first-year coach Henry. You could tell that she didn’t want the season to end. The way she and the team had bonded, and the fun and excitement that the girls had brought to her, was evident.

“I am excited, ecstatic, overwhelmed and amazed. All of the above,” Henry said. “I didn’t watch the scoring that much, so I was surprised to see us get three medal winners. Happy isn’t even the word I can use to describe how I feel right now. It’s way beyond that. I could cry tears of joy right now. It’s been a great season, it really has.”

A full team consists of 20 lifters—the Bulldogs finished their season with just 13. More lifters will make the team better. To achieve what the team has done this season with just 13 lifters was a strong tribute to the girls and coach Henry.

Weightlifting is a sport that will help you in every other sport that you play, but also helps with overall fitness. It is a sport where you not only compete against other lifters, but against yourself to improve your own weights. The sport allows interaction with lifters from other schools as they wait their turn to lift.

It is a sport and also a social club with plenty of room for other girls for next season.

“I’ve been recruiting for next year and other coaches and teachers have been talking to girls too. It will only make us stronger as a team with more members. Did you see our motto?” said Henry.

She turned around and showed the back of her T-shirt. It read: “Stronger Everyday.”

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