Raiders second to no one at state meet

One point put the exclamation point on Navarre’s first boys state weightlifting championship in program history.

Behind two state champions (Josh Carter and Jordan Jefferson), as well as three other medal winners, the Raiders edged Spruce Creek by the slimmest of margins.

Noah Melendez placed fourth, and the three points he received for that effort in the second half of the day pushed Navarre past the reigning champ by a 25-24 score at the 2A state meet Friday at Arnold High School in Panama City Beach.

Carter repeated as the state champion in the 219-pound weight class. Jefferson, after scratching in the clean and jerk last year at state, won his first heavyweight title.

Jacobi Smith took second at 238 pounds, though he technically tied for first. He had to settle for runner-up honors because he weighed 1.2 more pounds than the winner.

Chris Williams finished fourth in the 199-pound division. All five state placers are seniors.

The Raiders racked up 22 points during the morning session that featured the heavier weight classes. Melendez added the final three points.

“It feels good, but I’m not going to act like I’m the one that got us there,” Melendez said. “Josh Carter and JJ getting (state titles) definitely helped. It definitely feels good knowing you contributed and sometimes it’s that one point that separates you. That I am extremely grateful for.”

The state runner-up a year ago, the Raiders are second to no one this time.

“It feels great. Hard work pays off,” weightlifting coach Garrett Bagley said. “We set a goal to win a state championship. We were so close last year. I’m so proud to see them finish this year.”

And to do it against Spruce Creek, a 27-time state champion, makes the accomplishment even sweeter.

“They are the epitome of weightlifting,” Bagley said. “It’s crazy what they do. For us to beat them today is huge.”

Jay Walls, the head football coach at Navarre, coaches the weightlifting team with Bagley and couldn’t have been prouder of the Raiders, who have been on a mission since football season ended to be ready for this moment.

“When football was over, we started working on some things in the weight room as far as technique goes for competitive weightlifting,” Walls said. “Since January 7, we’ve really gotten after it. It paid off. One point. I’m so proud for these kids. All the credit goes to these kids and coach Bagley.”

So what propelled the Raiders to the top of the weightlifting mountain?

“A lot of hard work, dedication, tears, blood, sweat, Jefferson said. “Coach (Bagley) works the heck out of us. He works us hard every day. Now we know it’s nothing but love. We are grateful.”

Carter savored the thrill of going out a winner.

“To be a champion with your best friends is always a dream come true,” Carter said.

Check out more coverage of the Navarre Raiders’ state weightlifting championship in the April 18 edition of the Navarre Press.

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