ZEPHYRHILLS — Senior Damari Sanchez found herself disappointed.
During a poor performance Jan. 13 at the Sunshine Athletic Conference at the Zephyrhills High gym, the senior weightlifter scratched three times in the clean and jerk, and despite three completed bench presses, the scratches kept her from claiming a conference title.
But on Jan. 21 at the district qualifier at River Ridge High, Sanchez learned from her mistake and won her 169-pound weight class and earned a trip to the Girls Weightlifting State Meet on Saturday in Kissimmee.
Zephyrhills coach Joe Rinaldo said he made a mistake at the conference meet, allowing her to open high on the lift. Sanchez began with a 155-pound lift on the clean and jerk, and lost her grip on the first two attempts. On the third, Sanchez was mentally exhausted.
Sanchez, a first-year lifter, then broke down in tears and ran out.
“When it happened, my reaction was I was upset,’’ she said. “I can do 155 pounds. I set the school record at 160. That made me mad. … Next day, coach told me he was happy this didn’t happen at districts or states. That experience was an eye-opener.”
At districts, Sanchez took first with a 300-pound total, which bodes well for her state title hopes.
”It was a story of pure redemption,’’ Rinaldo said. “I want her to medal and do her best at state.”
Sanchez, who is also a cheerleader, throws the shot put and runs 100- and 200-meter in track and field, regrouped after conference and earned a state berth as a first-year lifter. A good state performance would be a bonus.
“About state, I am kind of scared and nervous,’’ she said. “I don’t know how it is going to go, but I plan to do everything I can to do well there.”
Correspondent Larry Bugg can be reached at [email protected]