two young men standing next to each other holding medals
Marathon’s Max Childress, left, and Tanner Ross show off their double district gold. APRIL ROSS/Contributed

Marathon and Coral Shores attended the FHSAA 1A District 16 Championships on March 28 at Doctors Charter School in Miami. At the end of the event, five athletes earned district championship medals and an automatic bid to regionals. Additionally, Marathon claimed the runner-up trophy for both the Olympic and traditional events. Coral Shores was third and fourth, respectively. 

Marathon’s Chase Leird won district gold in the 119-lb. weight class. Leird won both events by lifting more than 50 pounds over his closest competitor. Max Childress also outlifted his opponents by huge margins, winning both events in the 183-lb. class. Marathon’s final double winner was Tanner Ross in the 199-lb. category. Like Leird and Childress, Ross outlifted the number two athlete by well over 50 pounds in both categories. 

Marathon’s final automatic qualifier for regionals was Braulio Garcia, who won the traditional event in the 238-lb. class. Because only the district champion receives an automatic qualification for the next level of competition, other Fins will need to wait until the other three regions complete their competitions to determine whether they made the cut. 

Damian Staciewicz, competing in the 154-lb. class, will likely qualify in both events. Staciewicz won the runner-up spot for both styles of lifting against the top-ranked athlete in the region. Other probable qualifiers are Matthias Martinez-Velez, who took second in the traditional event at 139 pounds. Alex Cruz was second in traditional at 219 pounds and Eduardo Garcia was second in Olympic and third in traditional at 238 pounds.

Coral Shores’ AJ Johnson earned an automatic spot at regionals in the  219-lb. category.  Johnson outlifted the runners-up in his events by over 50 pounds, securing a trip to the next level of competition. Xavier Johnson stands a chance to make the cut after claiming a pair of third-place finishes in the 183-lb. class. Liam Bursa, Cody Roberts, Zane Rindom and Rijel Acosta all finished fourth in at least one style of lifting in their respective weight classes, giving them some hope for a regional trip as well. 

Once the dust settles and all four districts have posted their scores, the final list for regionals will be set. Those qualifying will make the trip to Frostproof Middle High School on April 4. Athletes who win regional gold are given the golden ticket to states later this month. The top 20 lifters, including the regional champions at each weight, will earn a bid, making it imperative that each athlete performs his best in hopes of making a coveted state championship trip.

Tracy McDonald
Tracy McDonald fled to the Keys from the frozen mountains of Pennsylvania hours after graduating from college and never looked back. She is a second generation coach and educator, and has taught in the public school system for over 25 years. She and her husband met at a beginning teacher meeting in 1997 and have three children born and raised in Monroe County. In her free time, McDonald loves flea markets, historical fiction and long runs in the heat.