First came the yell, a guttural “Doh!” that escaped the mouth of Jonathan Muniz as he drove his heels into the platform and stood up with 270 pounds above his head.
Next came the slam of the weights, a loud thud followed by the reverberation of the metal bar through FPC’s gym.
Then, there was silence.
“I was wondering if I made it or not, because I really wanted to go to states,” said Muniz, one of six Bulldogs weightlifters who participated in Friday’s District 2 weightlifting meet. After cleaning and jerking “270 (pounds), I know I could’ve done more than that.”
It was enough. Moments later, Muniz pulled on a blue Captain America Under Armour top, satisfied that his lifts were good for a top-four finish in the 199-pound weight class and a potential spot in the state tournament on April 25 in Kissimmee.
Marcus Polite and Carl Lilavois continued their assault on FPC’s weightlifting record books, taking first in their respective weight classes. Polite’s 560-pound combined score outpaced his runner-up by 55 pounds.
Polite, who initially got into weightlifting as a way to bolster his strength for football, has fallen in love with the sport’s personal-record based incentive system. He also cited the tight-knit team dynamic, exemplified when graduated state champion Devin McIntyre returns to support his former teammates during big lifts.
“It’s amazing,” Polite said. “We all support each other. I’ve been on this team for four years, and we all support each other. It’s like we’re a group of brothers.”
FPC coach Duane Hagstrom shuttled between platforms all meet long, offering a spot or at least some encouragement to each of his lifters. By the end of the day, his black shirt was covered with a pair of chalky handprints, the detritus of celebratory hugs following a good rep or personal record.
All six FPC lifters placed in the top four of their weight classes. As champions, Polite and Lilavois automatically qualify for states, while other lifters’ points will be compared against competitors from the other districts to determine the remaining berths.
Logan Smith put up 325 on his third rep on the bench. His left bicep is tattooed with Psalm 27:1, which in part reads, “The Lord is the Stronghold of my life — of whom shall I be afraid?” The 219-pounder carries that same fearlessness into every lift.
“You have to know that you can get it,” Smith said. “You can’t second-guess.”
Muniz considers it an honor to have a shot at states with returners like Lilavois and Polite.
Paired with his outfit — the T-shirt his mother Josie bought him, his stars and stripes socks, and those red, white, and blue Adidas shoes — the day’s outcome left Muniz feeling a little larger than life.
“I just wear this because my mom bought it for me, and I had to get the shoes that matched,” he said. “He’s one of my favorite superheroes, and it just signifies me.”