By JOSH FRYE
News Sports Writer
For the second year in a row, Escambia Academy’s 38-member weightlifting team — with several members battling flu, colds and other ailments — captured seven individual state championships. One EA lifter tied a state record, and 10 others earned either runner-up or third-place finishes in the AISA Region 3 Weightlifting Championships.
The Cougars won the Class 2A State Championship and overall State Championship. The competition was held February 18 at Pickens Academy.
During last year’s AISA Powerlifting State Championships, three EA lifters broke state records, seven earned individual state titles and seven other students were runners-up or secured third place finishes.
Chase Bell, who tied a state record in the 140-pound division, was named overall champion this year in the AISA lightweight class.
EA did not have any females compete this year, despite efforts to change that.
Joining Bell as one of EA’s state title winners, and their respective weight classes, were:
Shawnton Riley (81 pounds), Orlando Medina (114), Brandon Gulsby (132), Shannon Wheat (165 pounds) and Jason Davis (232 pounds).
Six Cougars were state runners-up: Samorion Clark (98 pounds), Matthew Brittingham (132 pounds), Ty Williams (148 pounds), Tyrese Smith (175 pounds), Patrick McGhee (205 pounds) and Tyler Newton (MSHW).
Four other EA boys won third-place trophies: Jaiden Santiago (tied for third in the 98-pound division), Joshua Spruill (114 pounds), Hunter Smith (181 pounds) and Troy Fountain (258 pounds).
“We are very proud of what we have been able to accomplish over the years. We have been able to win 5 out of 6 overall championships and have been very competitive,” Escambia Academy Headmaster Hugh Fountain said. “It all comes down to one day. It is the same in any sport that you play, and I am very proud of the kids.
“We had to fight for this one because we had a lot of kids who were fighting illness, but we were able to capture the victory. I am very proud of our kids and school.”