Matanzas' Katie Welker also placed at states.
When Lexi Buchanan walked into the gym at Arnold High School in Panama City Beach to compete in the FHSAA Class 2A girls weightlifting state championship on Friday, Feb. 8, she was nervous. Buchanan, who lifts in the unlimited weight class for Flagler Palm Coast High School, won the title during the 2017-18 season. The pressure of becoming a back-to-back state champion weighed on her.
She ended up missing three of her lifts between the bench press and the clean-and-jerk, and with a 485-pound total (280-pound bench, 205-pound clean-and-jerk), the junior was 30 pounds short of Oviedo’s Alexis Jones for the top spot. Buchanan took home a silver medal and earned 5 points for the Bulldogs’ team total.
The second-place finish is fuel for her upcoming senior year.
“It’s bittersweet,” she said. “I’m going to have to keep pushing and put all my training into my last year, and hopefully I’ll be able to get the gold.”
Buchanan was one of three Bulldogs to place at the event. Matanzas' Katie Welker, who was a mainstay for the Pirates in the 110-pound weight class this season, benched 135 and clean-and-jerked 115 to take sixth in the Class 1A meet on Saturday, Feb. 9.
The Bulldogs’ Anniel Buchanan (Lexi Buchanan’s younger sister) and Anisa Zwolinski placed third and fifth in their respective weight classes.
Anniel Buchanan, a freshman who didn’t lift weights prior to this past summer, set the goal of winning the title in her first appearance at the state level. She benched 190 and clean-and-jerked 170 in the 199-pound weight class. She missed two of her lifts — one on bench and one on clean-and-jerk — and ended up 30 pounds behind Niceville’s Melaina Bryant.
“The experience was amazing,” Anniel Buchanan said. “I was ecstatic even though it didn’t go how I planned it to go.”
Zwolinski finished second in the 169-pound weight class last season. However, stiffer competition made this year’s meet a tougher task. She benched 170 and clean-and-jerked 190. Land O’ Lakes’ Veronica Salazar took the top spot with a 385-pound total.
The Bulldogs also set the goal of winning the state title as a team. Instead, they finished fourth for the second year in a row.
“It wasn’t the goal we wanted,” Lexi Buchanan said. “The day didn’t play out as we wanted to as a team. It was the mentality that we had as a team — it wasn’t the greatest. We need to come in with a mentality that we have to do what we need to do to win.”