It's the first time any Matanzas sports team won districts four years in a row.
When the Pirates’ Katie Welker crouched onto the mat and gripped the bar for the clean-and-jerk, the last event of the afternoon, she focused. The nerves disappeared.
She had one thing on her mind.
“All I wanted was the four-peat,” she said.
Matanzas’ girls weightlifting team competed in the the district meet on Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Pedro Menendez High School. The Pirates scored a team total of 78, blowing past second place Pedro Menendez by 22 points. It was the Pirates’ fourth consecutive district championship. It was also the first time in school history that any sports team has won districts four years in a row.
“It’s been a trend for us to come out and beat Pedro — always,” Welker said. “They want to beat us so badly. We put it all in and work hard every day.”
The Pirates had five individual champions: First-time lifter Jaden Marsala, competing in the 101-pound weight class, bench pressed 95 pounds and clean-and-jerked 80 pounds; Welker, a staple for the Pirates in the 110 class, benched 125 and clean-and-jerked 110; Tayler Phillips, who was 80 pounds ahead of second place in the 169 class, benched and clean-and-jerked 135; Juliana Smith, lifting in the 199 class, benched and clean-and-jerked 140; and unlimited lifter Chiara Longo benched 175 and clean-and-jerked 145.
And of the 20 girls who lifted, 17 of them scored in the top six in each weight class, qualifying them for regionals.
“It shows that the hard work and dedication that they’ve put in — what they want, they can get,” Pirates coach Sara Novak said. “Obviously, what we’re doing physically and mentally in the weight room is working. And the most important thing to me is that wherever they are they can be confident and own what they can do.”
However, Novak said she believes the main ingredient to the team’s success over the past four years is due to the relationships she has formed with each athlete.
“Everyone one of these girls knows that I love them and would do anything for them, and I really believe that feeling is mutual,” she said. “When girls feel good about themselves and have 100% support behind them, their limits are endless and that was proven tonight.”