Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Pirates' Atherley Sets Sights High

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Pirates' Atherley Sets Sights High

Article excerpt

STATE CHAMP?: She finished fifth at state tournament last year


Michelle Atherley has set her sights high.

After a fifth-place finish at the FHSAA Girls State Weightlifting Meet a year ago, the Port Charlotte High junior is looking for the ultimate prize.

"My crazy, ultimate goal is to get first at states and just beat what I did last year," she said.

It is not that crazy or far-fetched.

The four placers ahead of Atherley in the 139-pound weight class graduated, including former teammate Elise Clark, who took third.

"I wanted to start where I was last year and get as much as I can," Atherley said of her weight. "I'm just keeping my eyes on that goal."

Atherley "surprised" herself Wednesday at the District 8 sub- regional at Port Charlotte High. She benched 155 and lifted 180 in the clean and jerk for a 335 total, 45 pounds better than her closest competitor in the weight class and tied for second best overall at the meet.

"We're just trying to qualify and get to the next round," she said. "My coach told me you are PRing today, so I went for it."

She was one of six Pirates to win their weight class and among the 14 Port Charlotte lifters who qualified for the District 8 State Qualifier on Jan. 22 at Charlotte High. There the top three finishers from the sub-qualifiers at the Port Charlotte meet, today's meets at Sarasota High and Palmetto High and Saturday's meet at Sebring will compete for a berth at the state meet.

The top three finishers at Charlotte advance to FHSAA Finals on Feb. 8 at the Kissimmee Civic Center.

Charlotte had three class champions and 12 qualifiers. Lemon Bay grabbed one first place and advanced three. The other spot went to DeSoto County.

Atherley made all three presses advancing from 145 to 150 to 155 and increased her clean in increments of 10 from 160 to 170 to 180.

"Up," she said on how much she expects to lift as the state qualifier. "I'm not sure yet. I want to give myself a realistic goal, something I can accomplish. …

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