a group of people standing next to each other on a sidewalk
Marathon coaches and athletes make a trip to the mainland to compete at the AAU SOFLA Open. From left: coach Sean Roussin, medalists Ella Evans, Damian Stasiewicz and Justice Lee, coach Jessie Schubert. CONTRIBUTED

Marathon’s highly successful weightlifting teams did not get that way by accident. The Fins did it the old fashioned way: through hard work and with a nonexistent off-season. On June 1, three local lifters headed to a familiar venue, Doctors Charter School, to compete in the USA AAU SOFLA Open. Doctors Charter was the location of Marathon’s district meets this past year, and all three competitors medaled in their respective weight classes at districts and did the same last week. The athletes competed against lifters from larger schools who they would not typically go against in regular or even postseason meets.

Rising senior Damian Stasiewicz competed in the 169-lb. category despite weighing in 11 pounds lighter, striking gold in Olympic lifts and silver in traditional. Joining him were a pair of Lady Fins, both rising juniors. Ella Evans competed at 129 pounds and won bronze in the Olympic event and silver in traditional. Justice Lee, the defending state champ in both categories, competed at 183 pounds and took silver in Olympic, then decimated her competition in traditional, winning first place by 35 pounds. 

Marathon’s boys and girls weightlifting coach, Jessie Schubert, also works year-round as the Dolphins’ strength coach, managing the weight room after school and during the summer.  Schubert’s programs are open to all of Marathon High School’s athletes hoping to make gains in the offseason. 

Schubert was very pleased with his athletes at the SOFLA Open. “Justice and Ella and Damian all performed so well,” he said, adding that it was “very exciting to watch them compete in AAU, and they’re all starting right back where they left off in-season.” 

Next up for Lee is the Lake Gibson Open on Saturday, June 8. Placing there qualifies athletes to compete at the Florida AAU State Championships early this fall.

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.