Woodland’s heavy lifters win title

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Woodland captured its first-ever Naugatuck Valley League weightlifting title March 2 in Seymour as, from left, Levi Fancher, Kevin Brennan, Jeremy Clark and Dave LaChance won their individual weight classes. –KYLE BRENNAN
Woodland captured its first-ever Naugatuck Valley League weightlifting title March 2 in Seymour as, from left, Levi Fancher, Kevin Brennan, Jeremy Clark and Dave LaChance won their individual weight classes. –KYLE BRENNAN

SEYMOUR — Woodland senior Jeremy Clark approached the squat rack for the final competitive lift of his high school career Saturday at the Naugatuck Valley League weightlifting championships.

Five hundred fifty pounds bent the bar, waiting for Clark to duck under and take it onto his shoulders. With a good lift, he’d hold off Ansonia’s Antone Mack to win the overall championship.

Clark came up. Clark went down. Clark went up. Easy.

“Coming into it, Mack was much stronger than me,” said Clark, who earned the Most Outstanding Senior award. “I was like, I have to get this kid because I want to get first place my senior year. I wanted to go out like I did last year and win the overall, and he’s great competition.”

Clark finished with 1,135 pounds to Mack’s 1,100, helping the Hawks run away with their first-ever league weightlifting title.

Woodland lifted 12,395 pounds, more than 1,000 pounds more than any other team. Ansonia was second with 11,325 pounds, followed by Wolcott (11,160) and Holy Cross (11,125).

“Our goal on paper was 12,300 and we got over that so we were pretty happy,” Woodland football coach Tim Shea said. “The kids came ready to go. This is a pretty tight group and I’m really happy for them.”

Clark’s 550-pound squat was the heaviest single lift of the day. He also placed second in the power clean (265 pounds) and third in the bench press (320). The totals were enough to help him win the over-220 weight class.

Woodland won four of five individual classes on the day. Dave LaChance was the only individual to sweep all three lifts in any class, taking the squat (415), bench (265) and power clean (260) in the 161-180 class.

Kevin Brennan won the 181-200 class by taking the squat (420) and power clean (275) and placing third in bench (260). Levi Fancher earned the 201-220 class by winning the squat (460) and bench (300) and taking second in power clean (275).

“We’re pretty well-rounded lifters,” said Shea, who acknowledged the work of assistants Chris Moffo and Adam Schultz. “We’re able to do all three lifts. There’s a science behind it. A lot of it is pure want and strength.”

Jason Rodrigues was second in the under-160 squat (340) while Joe Masulli took second in the 161-180 squat (390). Josh Collet had two third-place performances in the 181-200 class, finishing third in squat (375) and power clean (255).

Naugatuck High was one of four schools that did not compete at the competition.

Woodland competed in brand-new black shirts with the white initials of George Pinho, a former football coach who died suddenly in January, who gave special inspiration to a group who took the loss especially hard.

“I said, ‘You may not believe in certain things, but I do,’” Shea said. “They came ready.”