BRADENTON -- Less means more for the Manatee High girls weightlifting team.
Take the Hurricanes diminutive duo of Heather Bell and Jenna Sypula, who weighed in at 98.6 pounds each for the Class 2A-District 16 girls weightlifting meet Wednesday at Manatee.
The girls finished first and second respectively in the 101-pound weight class to help Manatee qualify a program record 12 girls for next Wednesday's region meet at Punta Gorda Charlotte.
"Together the two of them weighed what I weighed in college," Manatee weightlifting coach Rich Lansky said. "They both have a shot to go to states. It was important for Heather to go down to 101. Last year at districts, she weighed 101.8 pounds and was in the 110-pound class and she was giving up all that body weight. That's tough."
Manatee placed second in the team standings to Charlotte. The Canes' other first-place winner was Brooke Chamber who remained undefeated for the season in winning the 154-pound class with a bench of 135 pounds and clean jerk of 145
pounds for 280 total.
The top six individuals qualify for the region meet. The region winner automatically qualifies for states. The 12 remaining at-large qualifiers will be determined by their respective scores regardless of their region.
Besides Sypula, Manatee had three other girls place second in their weight classes: Callie Nichols at 129 pounds, Jasmine Walsh (139) and Natasha Walsh in the unlimited class.
It was the third district title for Bell but her first at 101 pounds. She won at 110 her sophomore and junior years, but she failed to qualify for state competition.
"I definitely think I have a better shot at 101 in making it to states," Bell said. "The competition is just as tough in 101, but my totals are more competitive in 101 than in 110. I am better at the clean and jerk because it involves the whole body. I found weightlifting through volleyball, and I really fell in love with it."
Bell's best was a 110-pound lift in the bench and 125 in the clean and jerk for 225 points. Sypula had 110 in the bench and 120 in the clean and jerk.
The other qualifiers for Manatee are: Nicole Caruso (third at 110 pounds), Alex Hadlock (fourth, 119), Gabby Valdez (sixth, 139), Madison Johnson (fourth, 154) Jaque Armer (fourth, 183) and Monica Lowe (sixth, 199).
"Nicole had never lifted a weight before this year, and she is going to regionals. And Carrie Nichols used to be a level 10 gymnast and is doing great," Lansky said. "I am really happy with our girls. We like gymnasts and cheerleaders and other athletes who do weightlifting because they are very explosive."
Palmetto's top performer was Elizabeth Atkins who placed second in the 199- pound class. Madison Koczersut led Lakewood Ranch with a second place medal at 169 pounds. Braden River was led by Sierra Rawley, who placed third at 183 pounds.
Other qualifiers were:
BRADEN RIVER: Miya Yawn (fifth, 101-pound class), Asia Nguyen (fifth, 110), Alyssa Gagnon (sixth, 119) and Fayth Walker (fifth, unlimited),
PALMETTO: Morgan Payne (sixth, 110), Jahonna Silva (fifth, 139), Malory Johnson (third, 169) and Terry Chism (fourth, 199).
LAKEWOOD RANCH: Morgan Cummins (fourth, 169), Zoe Soler (fifh, 183) and Bianca Tortolano (5th-154).
Charlotte won the team competition with 68 points. Manatee was second with 49 points followed by Venice (23), Sarasota (22), Braden River (16), Palmetto (15), Lakewood Ranch (12), North Port (8) and Sarasota Riverview (6).