The path to Manatee High’s third straight Manatee County girls weightlifting championship was clear before the Hurricanes entered Tuesday’s meet. The Canes were missing four middleweight lifters because of girls basketball and have always been thin in the heaviest weight classes. Like usual, Manatee would have to lean on its lightweights.
It left the Hurricanes with a thinner margin for error than usual. They needed to not only rack up seven-point wins in the smallest classes — they needed to grab more with second- and third-place finishes.
“Nothing really makes us any better, we just have athletes there,” said Brooke Schamber, who won the 154-pound weight class for the Canes. “We don’t have very many heavyweights. We just don’t have any girls that tried out. We have so many lower weights.”
Manatee’s four individual county championships came in the six lightest weight classes, and the Hurricanes’ depth lifted them to a narrow win against Bayshore in Bradenton. The Canes, who hosted the county championship in Manatee High School’s south gymnasium, finished with 51 points, followed by the Bruins with 48 and Braden River at 42. Palmetto and Lakewood Ranch shared fourth place with 31 points apiece, and Southeast rounded out the field with 23. Bradenton Christian and Saint Stephen’s did not compete in the county meet.
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Manatee County champions 101 — Jenna Sypula, Manatee 110 — Nicole Caruso, Manatee 119 — Maryah Collins, Palmetto 129 — Tessa Marquette, Manatee 139 — Susan Blue, Bayshore 154 — Brooke Schamber, Manatee 169 — Aleah Robinson, Lakewood Ranch 183 — Lourde Blanc, Southeast 199 — Sierra Rawley, Braden River UNL — Sha’la McMillan, Palmetto
Schamber was joined by Jenna Sypula in the 101 weight class, Nicole Caruso in 110 and Tessa Marquette in 129 to give the Hurricanes four champions —double any other school. The Tigers were the only team with multiple winners as Maryah Collins took one of the smaller weight classes as a 119 and Sha’la McMillan, who competed in the youth World Weightlifting Championships in October, won the unlimited division. Bayshore’s Susan Blue took the other bottom-six division at 139.
Aleah Robinson grabbed the Mustangs’ lone title at 169, Lourde Blanc won the Seminoles’ only crown at 183 and Sierra Rawley claimed one for Braden River at 199.
“We’re pretty strong in the lighter classes, Bayshore’s got the heavy classes,” Canes head coach Rich Lansky said. “They were really tough there, so we really needed to load up our lighter classes. So I’ve got some good girls with some good experience, I’ve got some newcomers that are going to make a mark.”
Manatee used its depth to win the county title a year ago and brought back most of the pieces which made a successful season possible. Two state qualifiers graduated, but Schamber, Sypula and Caruso gave the Hurricanes a strong core. Marquette’s emergence as a freshman helped plug some of the holes left behind.
Tuesday, though, was the first time the Canes had their postseason lineup set. Schamber, who was a Class 2A-Region 8 champion at 154 pounds and finished 17th in Class 2A last season, spent the early part of this season lifting in the 169 division to open up some roster flexibility for the Hurricanes.
The Canes don’t boast a single overwhelming contender for a state champion, but rather a stable of potential medalists. The county championship was a showcase of this depth before the state postseason begins next month.
“It really sets us up well going into district,” Lansky said. “It’ll be good. We’ll have a good shot.”
101: Jenna Sypula, Manatee
110: Nicole Caruso, Manatee
119: Maryah Collins, Palmetto
129: Tessa Marquette, Manatee
139: Susan Blue, Bayshore
154: Brooke Schamber, Manatee
169: Aleah Robinson, Lakewood Ranch
183: Lourde Blanc, Southeast
199: Sierra Rawley, Braden River
UNL: Sha’la McMillan, Palmetto