PANAMA CITY — If it didn’t benefit her so much in her primary athletic pursuit, weightlifting may not be the ideal sport for Arnold’s Jade Sankey.
Sankey is a softball standout who already has secured a college scholarship at Santa Fe Junior College in Gainesville. The long arms extending off her 6-foot-2 frame make her a home run threat every time she swings a bat, but it’s those same appendages that comprise her biggest impediment in weightlifting.
The reason is rather simple: The longer the arms, the more effort it takes for the lift to be completed.
“Most people put their ring finger or their pinkie where the line is on the bar,” Sankey said of lifters’ hand placements on the bar. “I have to put my index finger there, and it’s still awful.”
Sankey, a three-time state meet participant in weightlifting, powered through any perceived physical limitations and placed first in the unlimited weight class in the county girls weightlifting meet held Thursday at Bay High’s John L. Cobb Gymnasium. Sankey finished with a combined lift of 310 pounds, hoisting 150 pounds in the bench press and another 160 in the clean and jerk.
Mosley captured the team championship with 61 points, edging past Sankey and the Marlins in the final standings by four points. Bay was third with 29 points, followed by Bozeman (27) and Rutherford (26).
Sankey is trying to round out her high school career with a fourth appearance at state, and she certainly hopes for a better outcome than last year’s trip. She suffered a dislocated shoulder playing softball just one week before state in 2011, and the painful injury affected her greatly. She was able to put up a 150-pound bench press, but she ‘scratched’ in the clean and jerk and failed to finish on the podium.
“Basically I went down there to wing it,” Sankey said. “I wasn’t going to just give up. … I expect myself to medal (this year) because I’ve worked so hard for four years. I push myself for the best.”
Sankey’s teammate, Shelby Ramsey, won the 183-pound division with a combined lift of 275 pounds. Arnold coach Anji Dunlap joked that Ramsey, who is about a foot shorter than Sankey, is affectionately called “T. Rex” after the short-armed dinosaur. Conversely, Sankey joked that she’s referred to as “Sasquatch.” While Ramsey’s lifts are brief and concise because of the shorter length of her arms, Sankey is forced to adjust at almost every step in each lift. Sankey dips deeper than most lifters on the power clean to get under the bar, but her technique is so sound after four years in the sport that she is able to finish her lifts.
Ramsey, a junior, lauded Sankey as a supportive teammate who sets the tone for the rest of the team.
“She’s an inspiration,” Ramsey said. “She drives me to push myself harder than I could ever go. It motivates me so much, and I look up to her.”
Added Dunlap: “She’s the most amazing girl. She’s self-motivated. She’s committed. She has the most positive personality and attitude. She is the leader of this team right now.”
Sankey was one of five Marlins to win a weight class in the county meet, but Mosley’s superior depth was the difference in the final team standings. Mosley scored 12 points at 119 and 154 and another 10 points at 139 to position the Dolphins for first place. Mosley’s RheaLynn Smith and Shannon Hutto placed 1-2 in a competitive field at 119, Tiffanie Bass was first at 139, and Sabrina Anderson and Laura Schekenbach were first and second at 154.
“I hope the girls get a bit of a taste in their mouth and want to go further with this,” said Mosley coach Brianne Biddle, who celebrated a team championship in her first season as the Dolphins’ head coach.
Team scores: Mosley 61, Arnold 57, Bay 29, Bozeman 27, Rutherford 26.
101 pounds: Ashton Wilson (A) 120-105—225, Haylie Unger (Bo) 75-80—155.
110: Shannon Purple (Bo) 105-100—205, Katie Daniel (M) 100-100—200, Malory Walters (M) 95-100—195, Olivia Breeze (A) 100-85—185.
119: RheaLynn Smith (M) 110-115—225, Shannon Hutto (M) 105-115—220, Deneca Hamilton (Bay) 115-100—215, Kailyn Helms (A) 105-110—215, Mia Needham (R) 85-85—170.
129: Payton Ledman (A) 120-120—240, Lauren MacWilliam (M) 100-120—220, Haley Flynn (R) 95-105—200, Paxton Newell (Bay) 80-100—180, Tiara Lebron (R) 95-80—175, McKenzie Galbreath (Bo) 95-75—170.
139: Tiffanie Bass (M) 130-110—240, Ivy McDonald (A) 100-105—205, Lisha Estes (Bo) 95-95—190, Hayden McGee (M) 90-90—180, Kiera Butler (Bay) 80-95—175.
154: Sabrina Anderson (M) 125-135—260, Laura Schekenbach (M) 105-110—215, Mady Plyler (A) 115-100—215, Ciera Hodges (R) 105-100—205, Kathryn Harrell (R) 90-80—170.
169: Rachel Torres-Brown (A) 115-120—235, Michelle Watson (Bay) 105-120—225, Kellen Jones (M) 115-95—210, Lauren Leathers (R) 95-90—185.
183: Shelby Ramsey (A) 150-125—275, Jemaris Bryant (Bay) 105-100—205, Katelyn Kyser (Bo) 100-85—185.
199: Katie Waring (A) 125-125—250, Ashley Nunn (M) 115-110—225, Katilyn Richardson (Bo) 100-90—190, Ashlyn Trogdon (R) 85-100—185.
Unl: Jade Sankey (A) 150-160—310, Samara Roberts (Bay) 125-145—270, Zipporah Williams (R) 150-120—270, Alexa Moss (M) 135-115—250, Kadesha Williams (Bay) 120-110—230, Krystina Ward (R) 115-100—215.