On Friday, April 23, members of the Seminole Ridge High School weightlifting team competed at the Florida High School Athletic Association’s Class 3A state weightlifting meet at St. Cloud High School in Kissimmee. Five Hawk weightlifters qualified for the meet, but only four competed. One emerged as a state champion — senior Yosbany Gonzalez, who competed in the heavyweight/unlimited weight division.
Each weightlifter from Seminole Ridge was competing at the state meet for the first time in their weightlifting careers.
Gonzalez was the top-ranked heavyweight going into the state meet, based on his Class 3A, Region 4 championship lift earlier in April. There were a total of 20 competitors in the heavyweight/unlimited division. That seeding proved correct, as Gonzalez performed as expected.
Seminole Ridge head weightlifting coach Alexander Locker was not surprised that Gonzalez emerged as a state champion, even though it was his first trip to the state meet.
“Yosbany is a living, breathing embodiment of our motto, ‘Hard Work Pays Off,’” Locker said.
Gonzalez’s winning 700-pound weightlifting total was the result of a 430-pound lift in the bench press and a 270-pound effort in the clean. Going into the state meet, his personal record in the bench press had been 425 pounds.
Gonzalez’s work ethic is the foundation for his success.
“Two years ago, when I first started lifting, I would’ve never thought I’d be a state champ,” he said. “I’m just glad I was able to show others that hard work truly does pay off.”
Gonzalez’s nearest pursuers were 35 pounds behind him. They were David Raney of Venice High School and Joseph Rickey of Fleming Island High School, both of whom registered 665-pound combined lifts.
Gonzalez will be attending Keiser University in West Palm Beach to play football and compete in weightlifting.
The only other Palm Beach County contestant in the heavyweight division was Nick Mazur of West Boca Raton High School.
Senior Deion McMinns competed in the 169-pound weight class. There were 20 contestants in that class. McMinns’ combined effort was 480 pounds. The winning total in the 169-pound division was 595 pounds by Sean Acevedo of Lake Nona High School.
Locker was proud of the season-long commitment to excellence by McMinns.
“Deion is quiet, hardworking and determined to be successful,” Locker said. “He does things the right way. He played running back for the Ridge and applies the same intensity he does on the football field to the weight room.”
McMinns enjoyed his experience at the state meet.
“I’ve been blessed with the opportunity as a result of hard work, and I can sleep at night knowing I did the best I could,” he said.
Right now, McMinns is unsure of where he will attend college this coming fall.
Senior Jackson Harding competed in the 129-pound weight class. His best lift in the bench press was his opening lift of 200 pounds, while his third and final effort in the clean was 175 pounds. That 375-pound combined total was good enough for an 11th-place finish. The winning total was 490 pounds by Justin Irizarry of University High School.
“Jackson is an overachiever in everything he does,” Locker said. “Jackson is one of the top students in his class. His hunger for success drives him in the weight room as well.”
Getting the chance to compete in the state weightlifting meet has been a goal of Harding’s since he was a freshman.
“I’ve been working four years for this moment, and every second was worth it,” he said. “If I could go back in time, I wouldn’t change anything.”
Harding plans to attend Florida State University this fall.
Senior Wilfredo Feliu competed in the 219-pound weight class. Among the 20 competitors in his weight classification, he finished in a 16th place tie, based on a combined effort of 535 pounds — 310 pounds in the bench press and 125 pounds in the clean. The winning total in the class was 655 pounds by Amer Amer from Windemere High School.
Feliu’s success is the result of perseverance.
“Wilfredo is never afraid to put in the extra time needed to get better,” Locker said. “He also played football as an offensive tackle. He worked hard to move down a weight class this year, while still managing to improve his lifting total.”
Qualifying for the state weightlifting meet was a dream come true for Feliu.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment since last year, and I finally got [the chance] to prove myself,” he said.
Feliu is currently undecided on his college choice.
Junior Jordan Reyes qualified in the 238-pound weight class.
After only his second year as a weightlifter, Reyes qualified for the state meet this year but was unable to participate in the competition.
“Unfortunately, he could not attend the state meet, but he plans to qualify again next year, along with his twin brother, Jayden Reyes,” Locker said.
As a team, Seminole Ridge finished in a ninth-place tie with Windemere High School at this year’s Class 3A state weightlifting meet. The championship school was Fleming Island High School.