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Auburndale High senior Emily Hart winning a state weightlifting championship on the Valentine’s Day weekend certainly seems fitting, doesn’t it?

Hart’s performance at the Florida High School Athletic Association Class 2A State Finals in Live Oak last Saturday got to the heart of the matter for the Bloodhounds. During the event hosted at Suwannee High some three hours from Polk County, Hart was head and shoulders above the rest in the 119-pound class.

Another beneficial performance in the clean-and-jerk – Hart’s successful attempt at 180 pounds proved 30 pounds better than the next-best competitor – coupled with a 150-pound lift in the bench press gave Hart a 330 total. Nature Coast’s Kendal Haff and Milton High’s Raegan Wilks were the closest finishers to Hart with 295 totals.

Hart, who posted the same 330 total en route to an individual regional title, was one of two Auburndale lifters to finish top 10 in the state. Hailey Burns placed sixth at 199 pounds with a 160-pound effort in the bench press and a 155 in the clean-and-jerk for a 315 total.

Lake Wales (9 points) placed ninth in the overall Class 2A team standings and was within four points of a top-five finish. The Highlanders likely would have secured a higher standing had regional champion Lexi Thomas made weight in the 183-pound class.

Faith Garza helped pace the Highlanders’ effort with a runner-up finish in the 169-pound class, going an impressive 205 in the bench press and 160 in the clean-and-jerk (on her third and final attempt) for a 365 total. Madison Gosselin also had a strong finals by lifting 170 in the clean-and-jerk and 160 in the bench press, which tied for the third-highest total (330) in the 129-pound class.

Elsewhere, Lake Wales’ Kyra Battles shared honors for the fifth-highest lift total (270) at 110 pounds. Kiara Hobbs (235 total) and Kayden Arliss (330 total) finished eighth overall in the 101- and 169-pound classes, respectively, while Danielle Garrison came in 10th place at 154 pounds with a 315 total.

Suwannee High also marked the location for last Friday’s Class 1A state finals, where the Frostproof and Fort Meade programs were both represented.

Frostproof’s Alisa Mendes took third place in the 139-pound class with a 320 lift total, highlighted by a 185 mark in the bench press. Teammates Chloe Martinez (250 total, 119 class) and Casey Whittington (290 total, 154 class) were seventh overall in their respective divisions.

Emma Respress also had an impressive performance in the 110-pound class for Fort Meade. Respress successfully cleared 140 pounds in the clean-and-jerk and 120 in the bench press, good for a 260 total and a fourth-place finish.

In the Class 3A state finals held last Saturday at St. Cloud High, Bartow High’s Jada Green secured a top-10 finish in the Unlimited weight class. Green posted a 355 total – highlighted by 185 mark in the clean-and-jerk – that left her 10th overall.