- January 26, 2016
When Ocoee High junior Victoria Jefferson stood atop the podium at the FHSAA Girls Weightlifting State Championships Feb.6 in Kissimmee, it was significant in several ways.
The state champion in the 199-pound weight class for Class 2A, Jefferson topped the runner-up by 30 pounds with her combined lift of 435 pounds for her bench press and clean-and-jerk — a state record for her weight class.
Her 250-pound bench press was also a state record.
But, if you ask Jefferson, the best part of the experience was that the individual state championship she won this past Saturday was more than just a first for her — it was a first for Ocoee High School.
Jefferson will forever be in the Knights’ record books as the first state champion of any kind — individual or team.
“I feel very accomplished and very proud to be the first state champion here,” Jefferson said. “Doing it for my school, I know I’ve made history for my school, and whenever I come back here I know I’ll always be the first (state champion).”
Although Jefferson’s achievement was obviously an impressive physical accomplishment, besting the prior state record total by 30 pounds, it was also an impressive feat from a mentality aspect. After lifting a combined 425 pounds at the district meet (which does not count toward state records), Jefferson was the front-runner to earn the state title and set the record. She had to learn to temper those expectations and fight off the nerves.
“I listen to music, and I do lots of praying,” Jefferson said of her meet-day routine. “I’m a Christian athlete, and I have a really deep belief in God. So I was training hard, listening to music, getting my hype on and just praying at the same time.”
Jefferson trains regularly with her father, former NFL player Greg Jefferson, and with the Ocoee team, led by head coach Brittney Walker and assistant Jason Boltus. She was joined at the state meet by teammate Laniya White, who placed fourth in the 129-pound classification — marking a proud day for the program.
“(Jefferson is) one of the most dedicated athletes we have,” Walker said of the talented junior. “She’s the first one to practice, last one to leave.”
Jefferson originally played varsity basketball as a freshman — something her younger sister, freshman Samantha Jefferson, also did this past fall as the Knights won their first district title — but decided she wanted to focus on weightlifting as a sophomore.
“Even when I decided to transition to weightlifting, my parents supported me 100%,” Jefferson said.
Although she is excited to start her training for next year, Jefferson said her love for strength training goes beyond any medal she may or may not achieve.
“I tend to look at things far down the road, and weightlifting is not just something you can do just to win a state championship,” Jefferson said. “You add on more years to your life and you stay healthy.”
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected]