It takes a lot of mental fortitude and determination to lift weights on a daily basis. For Lake Placid’s Malachi McLean it was something he looked forward to doing.
McLean, who qualified for the state finals three times, capped a stellar high school career by finishing ninth in the 238-pound weight class at the state finals in April.
McLean lifted a school-record 345 pounds in the bench press at state and 245 pounds in the clean-and-jerk competition for a total of 590 pounds.
“Malachi did very well at state,” said Lake Placid boys weightlifting coach Willie Hills. “He has a great work ethic, is dedicated and was a quiet team leader for us.
“He led by example, was willing to help his teammates so they could improve and he gave his all every day.”
For his ability and accomplishments, McLean has been selected as the Highlands Today 2014 All-Highlands Boys Weightlifter of the Year.
“It’s really great to win this award,” McLean said. “I love the atmosphere in the weight room, getting stronger and working out with my teammates.”
McLean was also a standout on the Lake Placid football team and was selected to the Highlands Today 2013-14 All-Highlands Defensive Football Team.
“Lifting weights helped to make Malachi a much stronger football player,” Hills said.
“I want to thank coach Hills because he’s very knowledgeable about the sport and he spent a lot of time working with me to be my best. “This is a great way to end my high school career.”
Devon Durham, senior, Sebring: Durham was second at regionals in the heavyweight class and finished fifth at the Class 2A state finals with a bench press of 385 pounds and a clean-and-jerk of 315 for a total of 700 pounds. Durham is also an outstanding football player and has signed a scholarship to play in college.
“Devon has been lifting for three years and he increased his total by 115 pounds from the start of this season to the end,” said Sebring boys weightlifting coach Steve Berry. “He has a great work ethic and is very coachable.”
Ben Antonio, freshman, Avon Park: Antonio competed in the 119-pound weight class and improved his bench press by 60 pounds during the season.
“Ben really improved and has a lot of potential,” said Avon Park weightlifting coach Don Hickman
Jacque Peart, senior, Sebring: Peart competed at 219 pounds and had a 325 bench press and a 285 in the clean-and-jerk for the Blue Streaks. Peart is also an outstanding football player and has signed a scholarship to play in college.
“Jacque is very strong and has been lifting weights for a number of years,” Berry said.
Nathan Gibson, senior, Lake Placid: Gibson was a force in the 238-pound weight class with a personal-best lift of 275 pounds in the bench press and 225 in the clean-and-jerk for a total of 500 pounds.
“Nathan learned a lot from Malachi and was motivated to improve,” said Hills.
Josnel Soto, junior, Avon Park: Soto competed at 129 pounds and was second at districts and capped an outstanding season by finishing 10th at the Class 1A state finals with a bench press of 220 pounds and a clean-and-jerk of 185 for a total of 405 pounds. Soto was voted the team MVP.
“Josnel is a hard worker and his goal is to make it back to the state finals next year,” Hickman said.
Dalton Hammon, junior, Sebring: Hammon was at 129 and he finished third at regionals with a 220 bench press.
“Dalton has a good shot to qualify for state next year,” Berry said.
James Blake, freshman, Lake Placid: Blake competed at 183 pounds and had a bench press of 245 and a clean-and-jerk of 225 for a total of 470 pounds.
“James is a hard worker and is definitely a state contender next year,” Hills said.
Leo Fils Aimes, junior, Avon Park: Fils Aimes was in the 139 weight class and was third at districts and had a bench press of 210 and a 170 in the clean-and-jerk for a combined total of 380.
“Leo is a hard worker and is only going to get better,” said Hickman.
Isac McLean, sophomore, Lake Placid: McLean is in the 199 weight class and had a 240 bench and a 200 clean-and-jerk for a total of 440.
“Isac took third at districts and has a bright future in the sport,” Hills said.
Nestor Peralta, senior, Sebring: Competing at 119 pounds, Peralta finished fourth at regionals.
“Nestor was a wrestler and came in and did a real good job,” Berry said.
C.J. Wilson, junior, Lake Placid: Wilson was at 219 pounds and is motivated to improve.
“C.J. came on strong and has dedicated himself to the sport,” Hills said.
Tony Jenkins, sophomore, Sebring: Jenkins was at 169 and had a 250 bench and a 250 clean-and-jerk for a 500 total.
“Tony has a lot of potential and I’m looking for him to go to state next year,” the Blue Streak coach said.
Ty Johnson, senior, Sebring: Johnson was at 183 and finished 10th at the Class 2A state finals with a 320 bench and a 265 clean-and-jerk for a total of 585 pounds.
“Ty had a solid season and overcame a bad back to make it to the state finals,” Berry said.
Mason Million, freshman, Lake Placid: Million is at 119 pounds and worked hard to improve in his first season on the varsity team.
Jackson Michelin, senior, Sebring: Michelin was at 238 pounds and had a 290 bench press for the Blue Streaks.
Bryan Robbins, freshman, Avon Park: Robbins competed in the 119-pound weight class and showed great improvement during the season.
Travis Baxter, senior, Lake Placid: Baxter is at 183 pounds and worked hard to improve his technique.
Luis Sanchez, senior, Sebring: Sanchez was a hard worker and always gave a solid effort for the Blue Streaks.
Jean Echevarria, freshman, Avon Park: Echeverria was at 129 pounds and made quite an impact as a freshman for the Red Devils.
Garrett West, senior, Lake Placid: West was at 183 pounds and was a tenacious competitor for the Green Dragons.
Gary Demarest, senior, Sebring: Demarest was at 238 pounds and his work ethic helped him improve as the season progressed.
“Gary was one of our hardest workers and was solid all season,” said Berry.
Harley Hudson, senior, Avon Park: Hudson competed at 169 pounds and worked hard to improve with each meet.
Zach Varady, freshman,Lake Placid: Varady competed at 199 and displayed a lot of ability in his first year of varsity action.
Connor Tibedo, senior, Lake Placid: Tibedo was in the 129 weight class and was a hard worker for the Green Dragons.
Desmond Edwards, senior, Sebring: Edwards was at 139 and had a solid season for the Blue Streaks.
Coach of the Year
For guiding two athletes to the Class 2A state finals, Sebring’s Steve Berry has been selected as the Highlands Today 2014 All-Highlands Boys Weightlifting Coach of the Year.