November 26, 2020

Iron Braves finish strong at State Meet

Individual medal winners at the 2017 GACA State Weightlifting meet for the State Runner-Up Heard County Braves included (L-R): Senior Luis Vasquez (1st), senior Trey Wiggins (4th), senior DayVin Troy (1st), senior Jonta Gray (4th), sophomore Jacob "Big Country" Stephens (6th), senior Austin Miller (1st), senior Ethan Brant (2nd), and senior Austin Panell (2nd)

Individual medal winners at the 2017 GACA State Weightlifting meet for the State Runner-Up Heard County Braves included (L-R): Senior Luis Vasquez (1st), senior Trey Wiggins (4th), senior DayVin Troy (1st), senior Jonta Gray (4th), sophomore Jacob “Big Country” Stephens (6th), senior Austin Miller (1st), senior Ethan Brant (2nd), and senior Austin Panell (2nd)

(Louisville, GA) — A large and enthusiastic faction of Heard County High School athletes and fans traveled to Jefferson High School in east central Georgia last to compete at the 2017 GACA Class AA State Weightlifting Championships.

The Braves captured the runner-up trophy at the meet to continue a long string of excellence at the event.

The Braves have won the title three of the last six years and finished as state runner-ups in the other three years thanks to the leadership and enthusiasm of HHS football coach Tim Barron and strength and conditioning guru coach Rich Fendley.

Leading the way for the Brave Nation last Saturday were three seniors who each captured individual state titles in their respective weight classes.

The event is broken down into 10 weight classes and scored based on the power clean and the bench press lifts. Individuals who place in the top six in each class score team points which determines the team state champion.

Leading the charge for the Braves and taking the first place medal in the 141-150 pound class was DayVin Troy. Troy not only captured his second straight individual state title, he also became only the second Brave to ever win the pound-for-pound strongest man award at the meet.

Troy was forced to work extra hard during this off-season after suffering a serious ankle injury during the football season.

“I’ve been working hard in this off-season after that ankle injury and I am very blessed to be able to win this pound-for-pound award today,” said Troy after the meet.

While weighing just 149 pounds Troy was able to bench press 295 and power clean 290 for a strength to weight ratio of 3.926, an unheard of number according to the award presenter a the competition.

Another senior to claim back-to-back titles was Austin Miller in the 151-160 pound class. Miller benched 290 and cleaned 300 to earn his way to the top of the podium. Miller has been a standout at the event for several years including an impressive second place medal as only a sophomore in 2015.

Senior Luis Vasquez scored a first place medal after a strong fourth place finish in 2016. Vasquez was a surprisingly strong finisher in the competitive 206-225 pound class with a bench of 365 and a power clean of 290.

Finishing the meet as runners-up were seniors Ethan Brant and Austin Pannell. Brant benched 315 and cleaned 300 in the 191-205 division finishing only behind the freakish J.D. King from Fitzgerald.

Pannell lifted 285 on the bench and 205 on the clean in the under 140 class. Both were considered strong finishes based on early projections by coaches.

Other medal winners included Jonta Gray (4th), Trey Wiggins (5th), and Jacob “Big Country” Stephens (6th). Stephens was considered by Fendley to be a strong finisher for a sophomore and could make some noise over the next couple of years at the event.

The Braves knew winning the crown again this season would be tough after losing senior Peyton Ehlers, one of their top heavyweight lifters to a broken wrist just prior to the meet.

One of the heavyweight title favorites and arguably the strongest bench presser in the state, senior Brave Jay Jones failed to score on any of his three bench press attempts. Jones no-lifted 400, 400, and 405 on three separate lifts. He did not compete in the power clean event.

2017 State Runner-Up Heard County Brave weightlifting team

2017 State Runner-Up Heard County Brave weightlifting team

The top bench press at the meet was 380 pounds by Jadiah Diggs from Thomasville. Anthony Ramsey of Fitzgerald brought the house down with an awesome best power clean of 405 pounds.

“The kids came down here and competed and hit the lifts they could hit and did a good job to not get caught up in what other kids were doing,” said Coach Tim Barron after the meet. “I was glad to see them stay within themselves because at an event like this you’re really competing with yourself. Coach Fendley did a great job as he always does this year — he’s such a great motivator in the weight room.”

Fendley was again pleased and surprised at the results after many of his kids put so much effort in over the past couple of months to get stronger.

“I thought that the guys lifted far above my expectations. These guys pulled their weight and then some to try and win it,” said Fendley. “I am naturally disappointed as we all are that we didn’t win it all but I’m not disappointed with our effort — this was one of best effort days we’ve had down here.”

Fendley was also pleased with the strong finish versus a bigger and better field of teams this year.

“The competition was very tough this year with more teams and stronger teams including the Class AAA winners from last year, so with us missing some lifters today and still to do as well as we did makes me very proud” added Fendley.

The Braves will continue to work hard in the weight room in preparation for their respective upcoming sports seasons.

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