Matanzas' girls weightlifting team is still seeing success despite a move to the competitive Class 2A.
After four-straight district titles and four-straight regional titles, Matanzas’ girls weightlifting team shifted from Class 1A to Class 2A prior to the 2019-20 season. With the move came tougher competition. Class 2A is home to powerhouse Spruce Creek and the Pirates’ crosstown rival, Flagler Palm Coast, with whom they’ll now have to compete at the district meet.
“This team is working as hard as it can in practice. I think we’ve worked hard enough to where we can win this year, too.”
ANDIE TICE, Matanzas lifter
The quality of the competition led to a learning curve for the Pirates, who have a new head coach.
“They were used to always winning,” Matanzas head coach Jeremy Ossler said after the Pirates’ win at a quad meet the night of Thursday, Jan. 16, at Matanzas High School. “I told them at the beginning of the season that they were going to face some adversities. We’ve got tougher challenges now. It’s good for them. They’re humbled a little bit, and they now know what they have to do to get through it.”
Ossler took over the program after longtime head coach Sara Novak stepped down at the conclusion of the 2018-19 season. Ossler, who was previously the head coach at Atlantic High School in Port Orange for eight years, was an assistant under Novak last season.
“She built this program,” Ossler said of Novak. “I learned a ton being around her. We’re carrying on the same tradition she had. You never want to walk into a program that’s built something and go in the other direction. I want to carry it on and allow these girls to have the best experience they can.”
Despite the stiffer competition — and the fact that Matanzas only returned 13 lifters and seven seniors from last year’s team — the Pirates have continued to experience success.
That success is due, in part, to lifters like sophomore Andie Tice (110-pound weight class) and senior Juliana Smith (unlimited weight class).
“It’s new, it’s tough, but we’re getting used to it,” Smith said. “It was hard, but we worked through it. We’re earning it.”
The Pirates remain fixed on earning a five-peat.
“You have to put yourself in a new mindset,” Tice said. “This team is working as hard as it can in practice. I think we’ve worked hard enough to where we can win this year, too.”