PALM COAST — Sitting on a couch in an athletics office at Flagler Palm Coast on Tuesday, seniors Marcus Polite and Carl Lilavois glanced up at all the newspaper stories framed on the wall.
There were stories and pictures of teams and individuals all with something in common: They have enjoyed success. That’s why their stories are remembered.
And on that wall is exactly where Polite and Lilavois want their pictures and stories to be one day.
Defeat is a bitter taste
Polite has been on the weightlifting team since he was a freshman. For the first three years, he competed in the 139-pound class. This year, he is competing in the 154-pound class.
Lilavois is in just his second year on the weightlifting team, and he has lifted in the 139-pound class both years.
Last year, Polite won the conference and district meets, advancing to regionals. Then things didn’t go as planned: Polite bombed out at the regional meet, meaning he only successfully completed one of his six lifts (a bench press). He didn’t place or advance to states. In fact, he has never advanced to states.
Depressed at how quickly another successful season came to an end, Polite was down on his luck. He was depressed and wasn’t even sure he was going to lift his senior season.
“I was thinking that I wasn’t good, that I wasn’t clutch,” Polite said Tuesday. “But I talked to (FPC coach Duane Hagstrom), and he said don’t worry about it and told me to keep lifting. He worked with me, and that’s just been paramount.”
Lilavois’ path to defeat was a bit different. Polite and Lilavois have actually been friends since playing football together in middle school. All of last season, they lifted in the same weight class. Polite outlifted Lilavois in most of the meets, including conference and districts, where Lilavois finished second and third, respectively.
But after advancing out of regionals after finishing fourth, Lilavois set personal-records in both the bench press and the clean-and-jerk at the state meet, hitting all six lifts.
“I had a great day,” Lilavois said, recalling last year’s state meet in his mind. “I broke three records that year, and it was a great year.”
But he missed medaling (the top six at states receive medals) by 5 pounds. That’s something he still thinks about today. He can relate to his friend’s frustration.
“I’ve been there before, and I’ll tell you that it sucks,” Lilavois said. “Having that feeling knowing that it was right there, knowing I was 5 pounds away from getting a medal. All of that for nothing.”
History books, with more to come?
After getting back up from last season’s defeats, both Polite and Lilavois have enjoyed successful, record-setting seasons.
Last week, Polite finished first in the conference. He owns the 154-pound weight class record in the bench press, at 305 pounds. He has also tied the 260-pound clean-and-jerk record.
Lilavois finished third at the conference meet in the 139-pound class. He owns both the bench press record (270 pounds) and the clean-and-jerk record (245 pounds).
The two have set those records because they’re strong. But also because they are very driven individuals, FPC coach Duane Hagstrom said.
“They don’t like to be beaten and are always working to improve,” Hagstrom said. “They are both extremely coachable and are usually the last ones to leave the weight room each day.”
Put a ring on it?
The district weightlifting competition is set for Monday, March 24. Both Polite and Lilavois know that’s the beginning to a month-long journey toward state titles.
Hagstrom said the two seniors have what it takes to contend for a ring.
“They have both learned that this sport isn’t just about being physically strong, it’s about being technically sound and mentally confident,” he said.
Polite and Lilavois both said they need to continue lifting with chips on their shoulder. They can’t get complacent either, they said.
“It’s really easy to get complacent when you’re winning and breaking records,” Polite said. “You walk into a meet and you think it’s easy and you lose and your season is over. You have to go into each meet thinking it’s the Olympics and treat it like (the other lifters) are the best you’ve ever seen.”
RECORDS ON RECORDS
Marcus Polite and Carl Lilavois, both seniors on the Flagler Palm Coast weightlifting team, have already etched their names into the Bulldogs’ record books for their respect weight classes, and there’s still plenty of season left.
Polite, who lifts in the 154-pound weight class, owns the bench press record (305 pounds) and has tied the clean-and-jerk record (260).
Lilavois, who lifts in the 139-pound weight class, owns both the bench press record (270 pounds) and the clean-and-jerk record (245 pounds).