Ruiz looking ahead to state weightlifting
NEW PORT RICHEY - Alex Ruiz looked like she had just lost. Actually, the Sunlake High senior lifter missed on a 180-pound bench press attempt. No matter, though, since she hit a 175-pound bench earlier and had a clean-and-jerk of 145 pounds to get a 320-pound total and easily won the 119-pound class Wednesday at the District Five Qualifying girls weightlifting meet at River Ridge. For Ruiz, the qualifier may be the last step to reach the state meet on Feb. 9 in Kissimmee. "I want to win the state title,'' Ruiz said. "I don't know what it is. Maybe my muscles need a break. I had (180 pounds at the conference meet). I got fifth place as a sophomore. I'm healthy."No female lifter from Pasco County has won a girls state weightlifting title, and Ruiz is hoping to become the first. River Ridge qualified eight girls and won the district title with 53 points. Inverness Citrus was second with 39 points. The top three qualifiers in each class will advance to the state meet. Hudson's Foster gets return trip Hudson senior Baily Foster is headed back for more bling. She won the 199-pound class with a 165-pound bench press and a 170-pound clean-and-jerk. That gave her a 335-pound total and a first place at the state qualifier. Foster was fourth at state last year and wants to add a gold medal to her collection. "I'm feeling confident and healthy," she said. "I have a few back problems, but that's OK. My benching is not as good as it used to be. I'm all adrenaline." LiCalsi twin sisters headed to Kissimmee The state meet will be a family affair for the LiCalsi twins of River Ridge. Both Alexis and Amber LiCalsi qualified at the District Five meet at their home gym. Alexis' qualification was no surprise. She has two national titles, lifted in Slovakia and took second in the state at 139 pounds in 2012. Amber was the surprise. She had a 95-pound bench press and a 105-pound clean and jerk for a 200-pound total. She was second in the 101-pound class to senior teammate Katie Molina. "I wanted to be with my sister,'' Amber said. "She helps me. It feels great." Alexis wants her crack at the state title. She was second last year and set a state record with a 195-pound bench press. She had a bench press of 170 pounds and a clean-and-jerk of 180 pounds Wednesday and lifted 205 pounds in the clean-and-jerk in a meet this year. "I'm happy,'' Alexis said. "I'm excited. It will be a family thing." River Ridge returns to the state meet The Royal Knights will send eight to Kissimmee, the same number they sent last season. River Ridge continues to dominate Pasco County girls weightlifting and won the District Five team title with 53 points. Citrus High was second with 39 points. Hudson was third with 24 points. "I'm very proud," said River Ridge coach Mike DeGennaro. "They did very well. I'm excited. "It's pretty neat (that the LiCalsi twins are going to state). They work hard. They're good. I'm happy for them."