Lady Sharks Finish Second in State
By Danny Aiello Jr
Nature Coast ended the search for their first female state weightlifting champion Friday in the Kissimmee Civic Center, as the Lady Sharks returned with two state champions and a state runner-up trophy.
Sending their “Super 7” lifters to the state meet, the Sharks felt a high placing finish was in the cards.
Senior Ashley Gentz capped off her final meet with a 170 bench, 180 clean for a 350 total and 1st place finish in the 129-pound category.
“It is an amazing feeling.” Gentz said. “It’s nice to see the hard work pay off, but also sad it is my last meet.”
Gentz went into the day with an open mind knowing a high finish was possible.
“I knew I had to get my lifts and the rest would play out. ” Gentz said. ” I couldn’t have asked for a better senior weightlifting season ands it makes me excited to see what track season holds.”
Nature Coast was just getting started however, as junior Samantha Traudt also had her eyes set on gold.
Traudt, competing at 139, struck gold in her first state meet with a 160-180-340 total.
“It feels amazing to win gold, especially my first time at states.” Traudt said. “I’ve worked all year for this and reached my goal.”
Traudt echoed Gentz’s preparation by focusing on the lifts and letting the placement end up wherever it would.
“I prepared myself as much as I could to do my best and put all out there.” Traudt said. “Knowing I have another year too makes it better. It will motivate me to work harder to hopefully make it here again.”
The Lady Sharks would also place two other lifters in the state meet. Annelise Rentas finished third in 139 with a 155-165-320 total, while Kaitlyn Pierce finished fifth in 129 with a 140-160-300 total.
“This is the icing on the cake to my senior season.” Rentas said. “Not only getting third in the state individually, but being state runner up as a team just topped it off and I’m so happy.”
River Ridge took home the top team title, as freshman Kaylee Green scored three critical points for the Knights when she placed fourth in 169.
The second place finish marked the first ever state runner-up for Nature Coast, and while none of the Lady Sharks wanted to take credit, they all wouldn’t want to have done it with any other group.
“Coming second is an unbelievable feeling, all of us work so hard and to be state runner-up in an amazing accomplishment.” Rentas said. “I wouldn’t have gotten through this season and the past four years without these ladies and to know how hard we worked giving 110 percent at practice, the results showed.”
“Our team this year has been so helpful to one another and we all push each other so it was going to be fun going into the meet with six other girls.” Gentz added.
Not lost in the shuffle was another Hernando County lifter grabbing a state medal.
Paisley Easton of Hernando placed fifth in the tough 101 division recording a 115-110-225 total.
A year after finishing second-to-last in the district meet, Easton rebounded in her senior season in spectacular fashion, earning her first state appearance and capping it with a state medal.
Despite the nerves and feeling overwhelmed, Easton who was seeded seventh coming in, gutted out a two spot jump to the podium.
Easton joined the four Lady Sharks making it five county lifters returning with medals.
State Meet Team Scores:
1 – River Ridge 27
2 – Nature Coast 20
26 – Hernando 2
Weeki Wachee – NTS
101 – 5. Easton Paisley (HER) 115-110-225
110 – 9. Jessica Osborne (NCT) 115-125-240, 17. Calleigh Brannan 110-105-215
119 – 13. Victoria Davila (NCT) 125-125-250
129 – 1. Ashley Gentz (NCT) 170-180-340, 5. Kaitlyn Pierce (NCT) 140-160-300, 18. Jada Langley (WW) 125-0-0
139 – 1. Samantha Traudt (NCT) 160-180-340, 3. Annelise Rentas (NCT) 155-165-320
169 – 11. Imani Powell (HER) 145-140-285
183 – 13. Janea Mobley (HER) 140-135-275
199 – 12. Kelsey Manns (WW) 140-125-265
UNL – 7. Jouie Miller (NCT) 175-180-355