NAVARRE – Savannah Diel’s most impressive lift didn't come at state.
Sure, the Navarre senior rewrote the Florida record books with a 365-pound total for 2A gold, a medal earned on the shoulders of a 180-pound bench and 185-pound clean and jerk in the 119-pound class.
But the most prolific 119-pound female lifter in Florida prep history hadn't put on her Wonder Woman cuffs just yet.
Her 180-pound bench at state came so easily that when she got home, she thought, 'Let’s shatter that record."
So the two-time state champion did, benching 190 in front of teammates. Four months later, that remains her last lift.
“I just really wanted to get back in there and prove to myself I could do it,” said the two-time Daily News Female Weightlifter of the Year.
This inner drive has been Diel’s life for the last two years: She need only a mirror to view her competition.
“She’s just phenomenal,” said Navarre weightlifting coach Garrett Bagley, the architect behind Navarre’s four state titles in five years. “The way she’s able to stay motivated, I never had to worry about her slacking off.”
Last year she cleared 340 pounds to win state by a comfortable 15 pounds. This year she added 25 pounds to win state by a dominant 50 pounds.
“That’s the sign of being elite,” Bagley said. “If you want to be elite, it’s not just about winning. It’s about beating your opponents bad. That’s what you should do if you’re elite.”
So how does one become elite, Savannah?
“What really motivated me was beating my own record and winning another state title as a team. That was our No. 1 goal,” she said. “But I totally set the new record by accident. I didn’t even know I had until afterward. But that was my motivation, which you can’t do unless you fall in love with the process.”
Ah, the process, something Bagley knows well.
“She’s just so coachable,” he said. "Anything you say to her, she absorbs. And she’s fun. No matter how good you are, you have to remain humble. She’s one of those lifters that makes you love being a coach.”
Diel graduates with five state titles — two individual and three team. That’s one ring for each finger on one hand, and she’s not afraid to sport the handful of bling from time to time.
She’s also not afraid to load up the Golden Corral buffet plate, as per ritual following every state title.
“It’s all things pasta for me when I start to load up,” Diel said. “First of all it’s mac and cheese, which is the first thing I put on my plate. Then I’ll build around that before doing two or three plates of dessert.”
“After all the work that goes into making weight, it’s a good way to celebrate.”
Her prep celebrations behind her, where does Diel go from here?
She’s taken some time off from lifting, although she’s currently looking for a CrossFit gym to join.
A busy cheerleading schedule — she’s a part of two lauded all-star teams that run year round — keeps her in shape, and soon she’ll be off to the University of West Florida, where she’ll go the pre-med route by majoring in medical sciences.
But her weightlifting career isn’t done just yet. She follows the sport at the Olympics level and hopes to one day have the opportunity to pursue those dreams.
Don’t put it past the most prolific 119-pound lifter in Florida history.
101 - Payton Watson, Navarre: State champion in 2A
101 - Chelsea Owens, Crestview: Fifth in 2A
110 - Rabiya Emruli, Navarre: State runner-up in 2A
110 - Jessica Weekley, Choctaw: Third in 1A
119 - Courtney Murphy, Choctaw: Fifth in 1A
129 - Taylor Muse, Choctaw: Sixth in 1A
154 - Leah Carter, Crestview: Fourth in 2A
154 - Kathryn Warner, Rocky Bayou: Fourth in 1A
183 - Hannah Stapleton, Navarre: State runner-up in 2A
183 - Amaya Craig, Navarre: Fourth in 2A
199 - Shailyn Jackson, Navarre: Sixth in 2A
Unlimited - Kristin Dyer, Navarre: Sixth in 2A