Lake Weir’s Zach Honaker began his competitive prep weightlifting career as a learner.
As the self-proclaimed “weakest kid on the team” during his freshman year, Honaker knew that if he dedicated himself enough to his newfound craft, he would be able to fill out his frame and in the meantime, increase his chances of becoming one of the county’s top lifters.
The junior lifter's work and dedication has so far paid off.
After making his first trip to the FHSAA state weightlifting tournament, Honaker not only placed in the 119 weight class, but he set the county’s highest mark by finishing fifth.
“Zach is an extremely hard worker,” said former Lake Weir weightlifting and head football coach Will Dettor, who is now the defensive coordinator at Lanier County High School in Georgia.
“It’s hard to fill that 119 (weight class) slot with a quality lifter … its tough enough to just find a dedicated kid at that weight. Zach not only took to it, but he became one of the top leaders on that squad and is now a mentor to some of the younger kids. You know (2017 Star-Banner lifter of the year) Blake (Minton) was that guy for him, and he and Blake are really close friends, and now Zach is in the mentor role and you couldn’t ask for a better kid to do it.”
In addition to placing fifth at the state meet held at Arnold High School in Panama City Beach, Honaker, the 2018 Star-Banner lifter of the year, won the MCIAC county championship, the District 2A-5 title, he placed second at regionals, and was named to the MCIAC all-athletic team.
“I was weak during my freshman year, I weighed like 80 pounds,” Honaker said. “I knew basically I could just gain as much weight as I wanted. I worked out all the time, ate a lot of food, I go to a gym in Belleview called Phoenix Fitness, I have a trainer there that trains me as well as the training I get here.”
Honaker said that this season was a challenge because he began to teeter his weight a bit higher than the 119 mark. So he had to sort of reverse the cycle when it came close to weigh-ins.
“I didn’t want to exactly go up a class, so I had to start doing things to lose some of the weight like eating healthier, going into steam rooms ... so during the end of the season it was pretty hard because I wasn’t eating the carbs I needed and wasn’t getting the energy I felt I needed. I had to train extra hard during the time off before the state meet. I actually woke up the morning of the state meet weighing 123 pounds. I wore a jacket while running that morning and did all I could to lose the water weight. The first time I weighed in I was 119.4, but you get three attempts (to weigh in) and my second attempt I weighed 119 on the dot. If I didn't make the weight, I couldn’t lift at state, I would have been disqualified.”
At state, Honaker lifted 210 pounds on the bench press and 200 pounds on the clean & jerk for a 410 total — just 20 pounds off the 430-pound total lifted by 2A state champ Caleb Huff from Land O' Lakes Sunlake.
Honaker did mention that next season, there could be a chance he will lift in the 129 weight class. This year's 2A state champ at 129, Darren Crooms from Auburndale, took home the title with a 270-pound total.
"We'll see what happens," Honaker said. "If that's the case, I know what I need to do in order to succeed."
ALL-COUNTY BOYS WEIGHTLIFTING
119 — Zach Honaker, Lake Weir: District champ, county champ, second at regionals, county-best fifth-place finish at state. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
119 — Dylan Carrier, Forest: Third at regionals, state qualifier.
129 — Jovon Smith, West Port: Undefeated in county. County champion. District champion. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
139 — Nathaniel Pete, North Marion: Second at districts, County champ, 3rd at regionals, state qualifier. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
154 — Zian King, Belleview: Third at regionals, sixth at state.
154 — Robert Farnell, West Port: State qualifier. Undefeated in county. County champion. District champion, regional champion. State qualifier. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
169 — Washburn Wear, Belleview: Second at regionals. County champ. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
183 — Logan Wychoff, Lake Weir: District champ, county champ, regional champ, state qualifier. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
199 — Dylan Burtenshaw, Belleview: District champ, third at regionals, state qualifier.
199 — Adam Penuel, Lake Weir: Third at districts, second at regionals.
199 — Tyler Sims, Vanguard: District champ, county champ, third at regionals, state qualifier. MCIAC all-athletic selection. MCIAC all-academic selection.
219 — Steven Aldana, Belleview: District champ, third at regionals, state qualifier.
219 — Aidin Willner, Vanguard: District champ, county champ, regional champ, state qualifier. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
238 — Jason Scott, North Marion: 2nd at districts, 2nd regionals, state qualifier.
238 — Jalen Thompson, Dunnellon: Third at regionals, state qualifier.
238 — Byron Hadley, Vanguard: County champ.
HWT — Bradley Weatherington, Vanguard: District champ, county champ, second at regionals, state qualifier. MCIAC all-athletic selection.
Belleview — Ethan Ancrum, Brayden Steward. Forest — Grant Aderholt. Lake Weir — Israel Chisolm, Alex Quiles, Romel Williams, Garrett Tedder, Andrew Horne. North Marion — Dre Council, Daveon Eason, Elijah Wilkerson. Vanguard — Tanner Sims, Elijah Reynolds.
Compiled by Paul Kardasz, Staff writer