A year after not advancing any lifters to the state competition, Lecanto High School locked in two guys for a trip to DeLand on April 7-8 after winning the Class 2A-Region 3 championship at Wesley Chapel on Monday.
The last time the Panthers competed was at the District 6 Championship on March 8 — also in Wesley Chapel — with two Lecanto lifters placing first and falling four points short of beating Sunlake for a district title.
Those same two Panthers, Zach Ulseth at the 219 class and Robert Yoakam at 183, can now add to their county and district crowns regional championships with first-place performances — and their team can too.
With 41 points over Sunlake’s 39, the Panthers earned their first postseason title of the year after a runner-up performance at districts and splitting the county championship with Citrus.
Since then, Yoakam has turned it up a notch. Moving up a weight class for the county meet on March 1 from the 169 spot, Yoakam owned 183 with a 580 total. He bumped that total to 610 at districts. On Monday the first-year competitor finished with a 635-pound finish. Meanwhile, Ulseth continued his impressive run with a 590 total to win at 219.
As the only two Panthers with a first-place finish, Ulseth and Yoakam are the only Lecanto lifters with a guaranteed spot in the state meet. As for the rest, they’re thrown into a "wildcard" pool. The next best 12 totals in each class across all regions will earn a spot in DeLand.
Lecanto had two lifters place second in heavyweight Jonah Mele and 219-pounder Dom Speach. Mele finished with a 595 total and Speech ended up with a 570. There were also three third-place Panthers in Shane Thornton at 129, Bradley Mursell at 139 and Josh Brundon at 169.
Results for who will advance won’t be made available until all regions have submitted scores.