FORT WALTON BEACH — With his pen tucked between the brim of his Raider baseball cap and his right ear, Garrett Bagley was the picture of pride as he held his camera aloft to capture yet another memory.
There have been so many since Bagley and the Navarre girls weightlifting team won their first of five state championships in 2013, but the Raider coach never gets tired of seeing his team huddle together around a new championship trophy as it did after the District 1-2A championships Friday in the Fort Walton Beach High School gymnasium.
"It feels good because it gives them a little recognition for their hard work," Bagley said. "Those girls really put in a lot of time. Some of ’em are dual sport athletes, so it’s good that they get the recognition that they deserve for the work they’re putting into it."
With 98 total points, the Raiders cleared second-place Niceville by 46 points, and of Navarre’s 20 entrants in Friday’s competition, 20 are advancing to the Region 1-2A meet this coming Saturday at Suwannee High School in Live Oak, including six who claimed district championships.
"Those first-places are really important," Bagley said. "They get more and more important as you go higher to regionals and then to state. That seven points is really big. It’s a good indicator that we’re on the right track and we’re in a good position."
Jelina Bly took the 110-pound class with a 295-pound total, easily clearing teammate Nia Quarker, who placed second with 255 pounds.
Katie Johnson won at 119 pounds with a 310-pound total, while Lily Williams placed third with 255 pounds.
At 139 pounds, Makaila Hebner barely edged past teammate Kylie Kerr for the title, her 320-pound total just five pounds better.
Likewise, Veronica Hall and Jada Thomas went back-to-back atop 154 pounds with totals of 345 pounds and 325 pounds, respectively.
Macy Payne took first at 183 pounds with a 340-pound total, just five pounds ahead of Milton’s Ahlexus Lackey, while teammate Sophia Bucinell placed third with 315 pounds.
Finally, Alexis Prather took the unlimited class with a 470-pound total, besting the second-place mark by 85 pounds. Amira Marshall, Prather’s teammate, placed third with 350 pounds.
Rounding out the Raiders’ regional contenders, Kayla Stockdale and Kari Brewton placed third and fourth at 101 pounds, respectively; Natalya Garza and Eliana Colon placed second and fifth at 129 pounds; Brynleigh Hudson and Mackenzie Prather placed second and third at 169 pounds; and Ashley Hixon and Abby Routh placed second fifth at 199 pounds.
"This is a weird meet in that it’s a nervous meet because the top six move on, so the big thing is you just don’t want to make any mistakes," Bagley said. "Everybody’s moving on, so now we just enjoy this today and the weekend, and then Monday we refocus and try to go attack regionals."
Attacking the postseason is Melaina Bryant’ specialty. After all, on Friday the Niceville junior carried the swagger of a state champ.
Her 405-pound total won the 199-pound division and helped lead the Eagles, who have 13 lifters advancing on to regionals, to a second-place tally of 52 points.
All but guaranteeing that a second straight state title and third state medal is in Bryant’s future, she eclipsed last year’s state total by 15 pounds and bested the nearest lifter by 65 pounds.
Joining her teammate with a district crown was Kelsey Garrison, who won the 129-pound division with a 325-pound total.
Finishing second for Niceville were Malei DeZalia (240 pounds in 101-pound division) and Darla Joyner (290 pounds in 119-pound division), while Megan Hague (320 pounds in 183-pound division), Hannah Jessiman (310 pounds in 139-pound class), Delaney Cookman (310 pounds in 129-pound class) and Chasity Freeman (310 pounds in 154-pound class) each finished third. Teammates Nelly West (330 pounds in unlimited class), Avery Brechtel (305 pounds in 199-pound class) and Trinity Treadway (280 pounds in 154-pound class) all finished fourth.
Meanwhile Niceville’s Rianna Rhone was fifth in the 139-pound class with a 295-pound total and teammate Olivia Lea was sixth in the 101-pound class with a 195-pound total.
For Fort Walton Beach, the Vikings finished third with 15 points behind eight qualifiers.
In fourth were Sydney Kale (305 pounds in 139-pound class) and Destiny Williams (280 pounds in 169-pound class), while teammates Katie Spradlin (310 pounds in 183-pound class), Jera Trovato (215 pounds in 110-pound class) and Shallon Lochtefeld (270 pounds in 154-pound class each finished fifth. In sixth were Makenzie Marez (250 pounds in 199-pound class), Emili Pendrid (295 pounds in unlimited division) and Madison Ballard (265 pounds in 169-pound division).
In a tie for fifth with 10 points, Crestview has five lifters advancing on to regionals.
Finishing fourth was Mya Thomas (225 pounds in 110-pound class), while Mary Wyrosdick (310 pounds in unlimited class) Ciera Ezell (280 pounds in 169-pound class), Abigail Woullard (205 pounds in 101-pound class) each finished fifth, and Tensie Berry placed sixth in the 139-pound class with a 185-pound total.