Raiders finish as runner-up at state weightlifting meet

Finishing as the runner-up in the 2A state girls weightlifting meet is a dream come true for most teams.

But at Navarre, a championship is the expectation.

And although the Raiders fell short of this year’s crown by a mere two points, they found a reason to smile after the tears dried.

In time, the sting of missing out on their sixth title in eight years will subside and the appreciation of being in a position most teams are never in will be worth so much more.

But even now, inside the gym at Panama City Arnold late Saturday afternoon, the 19 lifters who competed here took pride in having a trophy in their possession after an intense-filled day highlighted with swings of emotions and impressive feats of strength.

It beats not having one at all. Navarre finished seventh at state a year ago.

“Runner-up is awesome,” senior Veronica Hall said. “I consider it a comeback. I’m really proud of what we did.”

Sunlake emerged with its second consecutive title, edging Navarre 28-26 in a meet that went down to the wire.

“A great team won today,” Navarre head coach Garrett Bagley said. “Girls weightlifting gets more and more competitive every year. I’m a little disappointed, but the only reason I’m disappointed is because I want the ultimate reward for them. I know what they put into it. But I’m proud of our team. I’m super proud of them.”

Eight lifters finished in the top five, with Hall taking third in the 154-pound weight division. Makaila Hebner took third at 139 pounds and Alexis Prather placed third in the unlimited division.

Jelina Bly (110), Katie Johnson (119), Natalya Garza (129) and Kylie Kerr (139) all finished fourth in their respective weight classes while Jada Thomas earned a fifth-place finish at 154 pounds.

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