They’re first-year lifters who are surprising themselves.

Three seasons after then-junior Madison Smith became Franklin County High School’s first girl weightlifter to qualify for the state tournament, this year’s squad is looking to once again be competitive.


In 2016-17, Smith had muscled up in Scott Collins’ weightlifting physical education class, and trained under coach Kassi Malcolm.


This year, Collins is coaching the Lady Seahawks, and for a bunch of first-year weightlifters, their performance is surprising the coach, as well as themselves.


On Nov. 21, they finished a strong second to Port St. Joe on the Tiger Sharks home racks, and topped Sneads in the three-way meet.


“We got a full team, and everybody that lifted it was their first weightlifting competition,” said Collins. I was surprised, and the girls were surprised. They’re stronger than a lot of first-year weightlifters.


“They showed good form, they’ve worked hard,” he said. “They had a great time, had a ball.”


The lifters earn points in two categories, the bench press and the clean-and-jerk. In each category, the competitor gets three lifts, and their top lift counts. The winner earns five points, second place three points, third place two, and fourth place gets one.


In last week’s meet, Port St. Joe tallied 40 points to Franklin County’s 32, and Sneads’ 21.


In the bench press, a spotter lifts the weights off the mount, and the lifter, who is laying across a bench, allows it to come down on their chest. When the judge says press, the lifter has to press the bar above their head, without lifting their butt, head or shoulders, or allowing their feet to come off floor.


With the clean-and-jerk, the lifter stands over the weight and from a squatting position, “cleans” it to their chest and shoulders, and then “jerks” it above their heads.


In the 101-pound weight class, sixth grader Alison Stephens came in first, with a total lift of 100 pounds, and in the 110-pound weight class, ABC School eighth grader Taylor Mallon came in first with a total lift of 130 pounds.


In the 119-pound weight class, junior Abby Johnson came in third with a total lift of 145 pounds, and sixth grader Brianna Stephens, Alison’s twin sister, was fourth, with a total lift of 115 pounds.


In the 129-pound weight class, seventh grader Ryan Brown came in third with a 165-pound total, and seventh grader Sarah Ham lifted a 140-pound total.


Sophomore Sage Brannan took third in the 139 pound weight class, and junior Kinley Stephens took third in the 154 pound class.


In the 169-pound weight class, freshman Kylah Ross came in first with 180 pounds total, and sophomore Grace Patterson tallied a total of 160 pounds.


In the 183-pound weight class, sophomore Brianna Holton came in third with a 125-pound total.


Senior Jaylin Charles took first in the 199-pound weight class, and eighth grader Marissa Branch took fourth in the unlimited weight class.


Also on the team are junior Gracie Smith, sophomore Brooklyn O'Neal, eighth grader Charity Larkin and seventh grader Michalyn O’Neal.