Anthony DeSantoli’s 730-pound total earned him the Class 1A title.
It was supposed to be a major disadvantage. In the end, it made all the difference.
At the state meet Saturday, April 16, at the Kissimmee Civic Center, Matanzas senior Anthony DeSantoli benched 375 pounds and clean-and-jerked 355 pounds totaling 730 pounds. All three are school records.
In a three-way tie for first at a 730-pound total, DeSantoli was declared the state champion because he was the lightest contender — usually a great disadvantage in the heavyweight division. He weighed in at 246 pounds.
Depite his relatively low weight, he increased his totals over last year by 95 pounds: At the 2010 state meet, he benched 335 pounds and clean-and-jerked 300 pounds for a 635-pound total.
Those 635 pounds earned DeSantoli a fourth-place finish at the state meet last year in the 238-pound weight class, and he knew it was going to be a long year of hard work to contend for a state championship in his final year.
Then, shortly after DeSantoli finished lifting in high school last season, he injured his back at an Olympic-style tournament for his club team — Team Accel — which has won back-to-back national titles.
He was out for four months with the back injury, but he wasn’t prepared to quit on his goal.
“I gained weight (because of the injury), and I couldn’t lose the weight, so I chose to lift in heavyweight,” DeSantoli said Tuesday, April 19, in an empty Matanzas field house, where he has spent countless hours in the the past four years.
But the switch wasn’t as simple as changing his weight and classification on paper. DeSantoli knew if he was going to compete against lifters who weigh at least 30 pounds more than he does, he would have to find a new competitive edge.
The edge DeSantoli discovered was to vastly improve how much he could clean-and-jerk, a maneuver that would hopefully offset the amount of weight the bigger lifters hoist in the bench press.
“I knew that they all bench the world pretty much,” DeSantoli said.
“Anthony is really focused and has spent a year working for this,” said coach Keith Lagocki. “His clean-and-jerk is what it came down to. You get a lot of lifters who can bench a lot of weight, but not many lifters put as much work into the clean-and-jerk, and, this past year, that was one of Anthony’s biggest focuses.”
DeSantoli became the third Matanzas Iron Pirate to win a state championship — Foster Carasia and Tim Scott were the others.
“I think it shows that the kids have bought into the stuff that we’re preaching,” Lagocki said. “Those three guys focused and dedicated their time to just weightlifting.
“It shows that if they can work hard and stay dedicated, that work will pay off for them.”
Matanzas finished in fourth place as a team, with Matt Whalen (139 pounds) finishing in third place and Casey Kronemeyer (139) finishing sixth.
As for DeSantoli, though his high school lifting career is over, he still intends on using his strength.
He plans to enroll in firefighter school, in Daytona Beach, and eventually become a firefighter.