• Crescent City High School senior Ashley Bennett wears the third-place medal around her neck after competing in the FHSAA 1A championship Saturday in Panama City. (Special To The Daily News)

Bennett first state medalist for Raiders

Ashley Bennett returned from Panama City as the first girls weightlifting state medalist in Crescent City history.

Only the second Raider to so much as make it to state, Bennett finished third in the 183-pound class of the class 1A meet at Arnold High School, benching 170 pounds and cleaning 160 for a 330-pound total. She was Putnam County’s only representative at state.

The total was not Bennett’s all-time best – she missed on a 175-pound clean that would have tied her personal record and gotten her second place – but the medal was no less rewarding for the senior who had narrowly missed previous attempts to qualify for the meet.

“She came up to me this summer and said, ‘Coach, I’m going to state.’ She worked at it when nobody else did,’ said Crescent City coach Stacy Cook. “We knew going in she had a chance at the top six (and a medal), but not third place.”

Leesburg’s Yasmine Heflin blew away the competition with her 405-pound total. Karissa Brosnan of Fivay turned in 345 for second place, 15 pounds in front of Bennett.

The atmosphere overwhelmed Bennett at first, but Cook said she was quick to adjust.

“It was a nerve-wracking experience for her. When she knew she made weight, she got a little more settled and stayed with her normal routine of warming up,” Cook said. “She was worried where she was going to finish, but I told her she had exceeded expectations just by making it there.”

The medal capped a season in which Bennett won county, district and regional championships. The only other Crescent City lifter to make it to state was Raven Bryant in 2010.

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