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.
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.’”
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.”