Sunlake's Tejada: Lifting brings joy
WESLEY CHAPEL - Sherling Tejada was flashing the high-wattage smile Tuesday as people gave her high-fives, hugs and congratulations. The Sunlake senior was in her element. One would have thought she had scored a touchdown. For her, it was like that.She had a best clean-and-jerk of 140 pounds at the Wiregrass Ranch-Sunlake dual girls weightlifting meet. Combined with her 170-pound bench press, Tejada had a 310-pound total. She won the 183-pound girls weightlifting class. If Tejada could lift as much at the upcoming qualifier Jan. 25 at Mitchell, she might be heading for a state meet in February at Kissimmee. Now, that would thrill her no end. A native of the Dominican Republic, she has been lifting ever since her freshman year at Sunlake. She lived in New York and New Jersey before moving to Land O' Lakes. She had problems last year at the qualifier, but really wants to reach state this year. She could be doing this to make her stronger for the shot put and discus in track. Actually, though, she loves lifting. Her face lights up as she discusses a sport she loves passionately. "This year, I plan to go to state,'' she said. "I have to work a little bit harder." Lifting means more to her than most weightlifters. "It (lifting) is a thrill,'' she said. "It excites me to get that bar up and get my max. "I like showing off that I am stronger. I enjoy it." She said that her goal in the bench press is to lift 200 pounds. Her goal weight in the clean-and-jerk is 150 pounds. She wants a crowd making noise as she lifts. "It spurs me on,'' she said. She said she wants to try out for the Dominican Republic girls weightlifting team. She said she loves her native country and has a lot of family back there. She also wants to attend Hillsborough Community College for two years and then transfer to the University of South Florida in Tampa. She said she loves helping people out and would like to get into police work. Tejada appreciates the support and coaching of Sunlake coach Denise Garcia. "Coach Garcia has been there since the start,'' Tejada said. "She's like a second mother. She is always there supporting me." The coach admires the fire Tejada brings to her lifting. "There's a passion there,'' Garcia said of Tejada. "She loves what she is doing. She is very dedicated. She works hard. She gives it her all. I'm so proud of her and so are her teammates. She had 170 solid. That's for her hard working. She had a 140 in the clean-and-jerk, but I know she has a 150 in her.''