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West Orange Times & Observer Tuesday, Feb. 6, 2018 2 years ago

Ocoee High's Samantha Jefferson wins weightlifting state title | Observer Preps

Knights junior Samantha Jefferson lifted a combined 430 pounds Feb. 3 at the FHSAA 2018 Girls Weightlifting State Championships to place first in her weight class.
by: Steven Ryzewski Senior Sports Editor

It was Monday morning on campus at Ocoee High — two days after junior Samantha Jefferson had won an individual state championship in her weight class (183 pounds) at the FHSAA 2018 Girls Weightlifting State Championships — and the reality of her accomplishment was finally settling in.

“It literally hit me this morning,” Jefferson said, sporting a hooded sweatshirt from the event. “It’s like, ‘OK — you’re a state champion. You’re the second state champion at Ocoee High.’”

Courtesy photo

Jefferson bested her closest competitor by a whopping 40 pounds Feb. 3 at the championships in Panama City, lifting a combined 430 pounds. She is the second state champion — individual or team — in Ocoee High’s history. The first was her sister, Victoria, who won back-to-back girls weightlifting state titles in 2016 and 2017.

Jefferson’s total in Panama City broke down to 230 pounds on the benchpress and another 200 on the clean-and-jerk.

In her first season as a weightlifter, Jefferson saw impressive improvement in the benchpress — she started the season benching 185 pounds — and remarkable growth in the clean-and-jerk, adding more than 65 pounds from not being able to do 135 pounds at the beginning of the season.

Along the way, Jefferson leaned on the support of her family — especially her sister and her father, Greg, who trains her — as well has her coach at Ocoee, Brittney Walker.

“It was crucially important,” Jefferson said of her family’s support. “(Victoria) started the domino effect. … Her influence, my dad’s influence, my mom’s influence — everyone together. … It was really good for my first year doing weightlifting.”

Classmates and faculty likely will continue to congratulate Jefferson for a few days, but there’s no rest for the determined. 

Now that she has had a taste of the mountaintop, the junior standout said she is even more motivated to keep improving.

“I’ve already started setting goals for next year,” Jefferson said. “I’m super motivated.”

Steven Ryzewski is the Senior Sports Editor for, as well as all three of Observer Media Group's print publications in Orange County. He is a graduate of the University of Central Florida....

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