As is the case with many athletic endeavors at Venice High, football is a year-round sport for most of the Indians, and the winning has carried over into the spring.
With a team made up of nearly all football players, the Venice boys weightlifting team made history this week as it tied Charlotte High for the district championship — marking the first-ever boys weightlifting district title in school history.
“I think we’re lucky because we have a lot of carry-over from football,” Venice coach Clay Burton said. “We have kids who work hard, they’re unselfish, they’re coachable and they really care about competing. So, it was really easy to have the kids buy in, even some seniors who are done with football but they still lift and they still want to compete for the school.
“We had an easy job of putting a team together.”
With such an emphasis on strength in football, it only made sense that the Venice boys weightlifting team is comprised of all football players with the exception of Ryan Anderson.
Though the co-championship was the first-ever for Venice, it was spearheaded by some longtime Indians.
Seniors Scott Schenke (heavyweights), Marlem Louis (238 pounds) and Michael Trapani (154 pounds) each won individual district titles with some impressive lifts, and the Indians got some unexpected performances to put them in contention.
“We had an idea it was going to be close, but we got some points we didn’t know we were going to get,” Burton said. “Like Carson Peters. He got third place in the heavyweights. Anderson did a great job. I think we had Trapani predicted to come in second and he ended up winning. And everyone else did what they were supposed to do to give us some points.”
The workouts Burton runs his team through are essentially extensions of the lifting and conditioning that the football team already goes through, which includes about an hour or so of exercise each day with some extra emphasis on technique worked in.
And the work doesn’t stop in the spring, either.
Burton — the football strength and conditioning coach — is also in charge of running summer workouts and making sure the Indians are in good shape when August rolls around each year.
Just in his second season of coaching, it’s clear that his efforts in shaping the growth of several Indians athletes are already paying off.
With a district title under its belt, Venice will take 10 weightlifters to the regional tournament at Charlotte High on Thursday, March 28 for a 10 a.m. meet.
To advance to the state meet as a team, Venice will either have to win its region or finish as one of the top eight “strongest” teams to not win its region.
Individually, any Indians who win their region — which could include Schenke, Louis and Trapani — will advance to the state meet at Arnold High School in Panama City Beach on April 12.
“I think this year is the strongest team we’ve ever had,” Trapani said. “There were three of us in first, but we had so many guys in third, fourth and fifth place. Just a bunch of points.
“I think we only missed one or two weight classes. We scored points in every single other weight class.”