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Monday, Jun 18, 2018
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Pasco’s Byrd easily wins title

ZEPHYRHILLS — Eunique Byrd had a very unique meet Monday.

The Pasco High senior bench pressed 215 pounds and added 180 pounds in the clean and jerk to easily win the unlimited class in the 2014 Sunshine Athletic Conference Girls Weightlifting Meet at the Zephyrhills High gym.

Byrd had a 395-pound total that might allow her to win a state title if she can match those numbers at the state meet Feb. 8 in Kissimmee.

River Ridge won its fourth straight conference title and sixth in the seven years. They had 67 points to Mitchell High’s 32.

But Byrd said she had some extra help.

“I’m a strong believer in God,’’ said Byrd, a state lifter last year. “Before I lift, every time I quote Phillipians 4:13: ‘I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.’ I really believe that. I got 10th out of 30 last year. I struggled with 200 last year.”

Monday’s SAC meet serves as a warm-up for the district qualifier Tuesday at River Ridge, which won five of the 10 weight classes.

River Ridge junior Kiara Wood hit 300 pounds to win the 119-pound class. Wood competed at states last year and pushed up 150 pounds in both the bench press and clean and jerk.

“I’m so excited,’’ Wood said. “It’s the first time I have hit 300. I have been working on it for months. I won the conference last year. I had 125 and 125 last year at state, so that’s 25 pounds on each lift. I feel like you work just as hard for conference as for the qualifier and the state because it is just as competitive.”

The Royal Knights won Monday despite losing six of eight state qualifiers from last season to put them, essentially, in a rebuilding year.

“We lost a lot of girls from last year,’’ River Ridge coach Mike DeGennaro said. “Jessica Dunphy, one of our conference champions (129 pounds), has now four team conference titles in a row. They did well. Kiara is always lifting well. A lot of other girls. Amanda Bianchi (110 pounds) hit a personal best to get second. Callista Durrett (110) hit a personal best. Kenzei Goluba (199) hit a personal best. A lot of girls really stepped it up. They take pride in this. They wanted to put on a good showing.”

Sunlake’s Catalina Valdes had a 200-pound bench press and a 130-pound clean and jerk for a 330-pound total. Valdes has lifted 220 pounds in smaller meets.

Correspondent Larry Bugg can be reached at [email protected]

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