To his credit: Oliver claimed the Class 2A state championship in the 119-pound weight division with a total lift of 445 pounds.
The senior turned in a personal-best bench press of 250 pounds at the state meet in Kissimmee, but needed his third and final try on the clean and jerk before lifting 195 pounds to clinch the crown. It was sweet vindication for Oliver, whose struggles in the clean and jerk dropped him from second place to fifth place at state in 2014.
Oliver gave up his first love, baseball, to concentrate on weightlifting, and said his hard work was worth it when he received the gold medal. "To me, my favorite moment of my season was the offseason because that's where being a champion is won, behind the scenes when nobody is watching," he said.
Fast facts: Oliver was a second baseman on the baseball team before giving up the sport after his sophomore year. He remained friends with baseball players and attended most of the Hurricanes' games, shouting encouragement to the Manatee players. Not surprisingly, Oliver said his favorite school subject was weightlifting class. If he had to pick a second favorite, it would be history, he said.
Up next: Although he entertained the idea of lifting for a college in Michigan, Oliver has decided to attend St. Leo University and leave the sport behind. But he also is considering staying home to play a year of post-grad baseball at Inspiration Academy.
BAYSHORE -- Jamar Johnson, sr.; David Lopez, sr.
CARDINAL MOONEY -- Dillon O'Neill, soph.
LAKEWOOD RANCH -- James Jeffcoat, sr.; Daron Lowery, jr.; Gabriel Overmyer.
MANATEE -- Luis Garcia, sr.; Paul Smith, sr.
PALMETTO -- Brad Wyatt, sr.
-- Timothy R. Wolfrum, Herald staff