Sebring senior Emily Bible combined strength with fortitude that helped her reach the Class 1A State Weightlifting Finals this season. Bible is a two-time state qualifier who finished sixth in the 119-pound weight class at state with a bench press of 135 pounds and a clean-and-jerk of 140 for a combined total of 275 pounds. The versatile Bible also excels at volleyball, softball and basketball.

“Emily is one of the best athletes in the county,” said Sebring girls weightlifting coach Steve Berry. “She competes on the varsity level in volleyball, basketball, softball, and weightlifting. She is the most appreciative young lady I have ever met. She thanks everybody for everything. She is an extremely hard worker. She studies the sport on her own. She is a champion in character and athletics.”

For her accomplishments and ability, Bible, has been selected as the Highlands News-Sun 2019 All-Highlands Girls Weightlifter of the Year.

“It is exciting to be selected,” said Bible. “I feel humbled because I worked hard and this shows that hard work pays off. This is my third year lifting. I decided to do weightlifting because it helps out with other sports and I really got into it. Once I liked it, I couldn’t stop doing it. It is all self-driven so if you do good or bad it’s on you. I plan on attending Florida State University to pursue a career in health. I just want to be a college kid and try some other sports that I have never done before. I want to experience all the other things in life. Coach Berry has really helped me out. He has shown me the proper technique and coaching I need. Deputy Purvis is our assistant coach and she would work out with me all the time. She pushed me and we are about the same size and strength so we were always competitive at practice and it helped a lot.”

The Team

Nicole Beard, freshman, Lake Placid – Beard competed in the 110-weight class and lifted a total of 160 pounds. She placed second in districts and advanced to regionals. “Nicole is a solid competitor that really excelled this year,” said Lake Placid head weightlifting coach Donald Ridgeway. “As a freshman, the future looks extremely bright.”

Leawna Egan, junior, Avon Park – Egan lifted in the 101-weight class where she benched a personal-best 80 pounds and had a clean-and-jerk of 75 for a total of 155 pounds. “Leawna works very hard all season,” said Avon Park head coach Pakitta Wells-Felix. “She was injured this season but she will come back stronger next season.”

Makenzi Durbano, sophomore, Lake Placid – Durbano placed first in the 129-weight class at the Class 1A district meet lifting a total of 205. “Makenzi really came along this season and made great strides,” Ridgeway stated. “She was a strong competitor and always had a will and desire to win.”

Hannah Edwards, junior, Sebring – Edwards was a remarkable asset to the team and won the district title in the 154-weight class. She placed 11th at regionals. “Hannah is naturally gifted and started the season well,” Berry said.

Melina Oxer, senior, Lake Placid – Oxer is a tremendously versatile athlete who excelled in weightlifting, volleyball and soccer. Oxer lifted a total of 225 pounds and was district champion in the 199 weight class. “Melina has been with us all four years and has always been a tremendous lifter,” said Ridgeway. “She fought off a significant shoulder injury but refused to quit. We will miss her leadership and dedication next season.”

Sarrenna Wright, junior, Avon Park – Wright is a leader for Avon Park with a bench press of 110 and a clean-and-jerk of 100 for a total of 210 in the 101-weight class. Wright placed first in districts, fourth at regionals and advanced to the state competition. “This was Sarrenna’s first time ever doing weightlifting,” said Wells-Felix. “She has shown so much strength, devotion and determination that it takes to be a weightlifter. I feel next year, if she puts in the effort, she can have another successful season.”

Olivia Kelly, junior, Lake Placid – Kelly claimed third place at districts and advanced to regionals. She lifted a total of 155 pounds. “Olivia is an extremely hard worker and has continued to improve from her freshman season,” stated Ridgeway.

Kaylee Graham, senior, Sebring – Graham lifted in the 199-weight class benching 110, with a clean-and-jerk of 130 for a total of 235. “Kaylee had a nice four-year career,” said Berry.

Chiara Chillemi, junior, Lake Placid – Chillemi was the district champion in the 119-weight class and lifted a total of 190 pounds. “Chiara has always been an extremely hard worker and has shown great potential throughout the year,” Ridgeway said. “If she trains this offseason she has a solid shot at the State Finals next year.”

Yoshia Chipman, junior, Avon Park – Chipman competed in the 129-weight class where her best bench was 80 and her best clean-and-jerk was 75 for a total of 155. “Yoshia is another one who had to get a feel of things but once she did, she did what she had to do to get to regionals,” Wells-Felix said.

Adrianna Dubois, junior, Sebring – Dubois placed second in the 183-weight class at districts and regionals. She benched 125, had a clean-and-jerk of 140 for a total of 265. “Adrianna is our MVP,” Berry stated. “She will be our team captain next season.”

Kyleigh Jackson, junior, Avon Park – Jackson benched 85 and had a clean-and-jerk of 115 for a total of 200. “Kyleigh is strong and worked really hard throughout the season,” said Wells-Felix. “She will prove to be an excellent lifter next season.”

Tracie Capalbo, junior, Lake Placid – Capalbo was the district runner-up in the unlimited weight class where she lifted a total of 255 pounds. “Tracie really improved throughout the course of the season and came on strong late in the year,” said Ridgeway. “Her dedication and hard work took her to being one of the best lifters on our squad.”

Crystal Mendoza, freshman, Sebring – In the 101-weight class, Mendoza placed second at districts and at regionals. She benched 75 and had a clean-and-jerk of 85 for a total of 160. “Crystal had a great year as just a freshman,” stated Berry.

Connie Chandler, senior, Lake Placid – Chandler lifted a total of 210 pounds in the 139-weight class. “Connie is another one of our seniors that we are going to miss,” said Ridgeway. “She was a strong lifter who always had a desire to excel.”

Angelica Bautista, freshman, Avon Park – Bautista competed in the 110-weight class where she benched 105 and had a clean-and-jerk of 85 for a total of 190. “Angelica came this year with such powerful lifts throughout the season and placed in every meet,” said Wells-Felix.

Jordan Diez, senior, Lake Placid – Diez was the runner up in the 199-weight class with a 155 pound lift total. “Jordan is one of my seniors that we are really going to miss this next season,” Ridgeway said. “She has a strong work ethic and has always pushed herself to be the best.”

Kani Binns, freshman, Sebring – Binns placed third at district and regionals in the 169-weight class having benched 135 and had a clean-and-jerk of 115 for a lift total of 245-pounds. “Kani is an awesome freshman lifter,” stated Berry.

Tynesha Owens-Burse, senior, Avon Park – Owens-Burse lifted in the 183-weight class where she had a total of 210. “Tynesha had to get the hang of things but once she did there was no stopping her,” Wells-Felix said. “She kept pressing until she qualified for regionals.”

Aniyah Hills, junior, Lake Placid – Hills had a lift total of 255 in the 154-weight class. “Aniyah had an impressive junior season and really developed near the end of the year as a powerhouse for our team,” said Ridgeway. “I am excited that we have another year to push ourselves to get to the finals.”

Honorable Mention

Jada Chavez, junior, Sebring – Competed at Unlimited. “Jada has all the tools to be a great lifter, if she dedicates herself to it,” said Berry.

Eden Francois, junior, Lake Placid – Competed at Unlimited. “Eden really improved from last year,” Ridgeway said. “She is going to be a force to be reckoned with next year.”

Emily White, junior, Sebring – Competed at 105. “Great year as a new lifter,” Berry said.

Hannah Reed, senior, Lake Placid – Competed at 199. “Hannah will be missed when she graduates,” stated Ridgeway. “It will be hard to fill her spot.”

Nikki Soto, senior, Sebring – Competed at 169. “Hannah was a four-year dedicated lifter,” Berry stated.

Kasi Lorenzo, junior, Lake Placid – Competed at 169. “Kasi has shown great improvement and has really fallen in love with the sport,” said Ridgeway. “She is going to be one of our top lifters for next season.”

Kiara Delgado, junior, Sebring – Competed at 139 where Delgado placed fourth at districts. “Delgado not only lifts weights, she also plays volleyball and softball,” said Berry.

Briyana Wyche, junior, Lake Placid – Competed at 154. “Briyana has really shown improvement and made it to regionals where she did really well,” stated Ridgeway. “I am really proud of her.”

Jaycee Turner, junior, Sebring – Competed at 154 where Turner placed third in districts. “Jaycee had a great year as a new lifter,” Berry stated.

Anna Sapp, junior, Lake Placid – Competed at 139. “This was Anna’s first year lifting, she is a swimmer by nature, but she really excelled this year,” Ridgeway said. “She had a lot of good meets and just fell short of regionals this season.”

Hannah Berry, junior, Sebring – Competed at 169 where Berry placed sixth at districts. “Hannah was most improved on our team,” said Berry.

Coach Of The Year

For guiding his team to a successful season and helping Bible finish sixth at state, Sebring’s Steve Berry has been selected as the Highlands News-Sun 2019 All-Highlands Girls Weightlifting Coach of the Year.

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