Leesburg breaks through, sweeps FHSAA girls weightlifting state championships

Leesburg High’s four strongest girls weightlifters competed against teammates and had to divide individual honors at Saturday’s Class 2A girls weightlifting state championship meet in Lakeland.

But their shared successes propelled the Yellow Jackets to two historic team state titles. Individual state champions Kaitlynn Brady, Mileysa Lebron Escudero, E’mia Jones and Nevaeh Wells led the way for the Yellow Jackets at the RP Funding Center.

Leesburg outscored second-place New Smyrna Beach 30 points to 24 in the Olympic style competition, which includes the snatch plus the clean & jerk techniques; and topped the Barracudas 29-26 in the Traditional lifts (bench press and clean & jerk).

The titles make Leesburg the second Orlando-area school to come out on top in FHSAA girls weightlifting, which dates to 2004. Winter Springs was the first with an Olympic team title last season.

The Yellow Jackets have consistently been strong, including 2019 and 2020 state runner-up showings, under the direction of 16-year coach Josh Boyer. But this year’s team was loaded.

Winter Springs is FHSAA weightlifting runner-up; 6 area girls are state champs

Brady, a senior, earned her third state championship in two years with a 101-pound weight-class victory. She lifted 250 total pounds to edge Escudero, who lifted 245.

The tables were turned in the Traditional table. Escudero, a junior, prevailed with a 260 total. Brady was third at 250.

Jones, a senior, and Wells, a junior, each added victories worth 7 points as champions for the unlimited weight class.

Wells hoisted 480 pounds total to win the Traditional title. She dominated on the bench, hitting all three of her lifts (240, 250 and 260 pounds). She placed third in the Olympic competition with a 375 mark.

Jones won the unlimited Olympic title with a 405 total that included the best snatch (175) and best clean (235) in the weight class. She was third in Traditional with a 420 total.

Leesburg’s Kayla Nord placed second in Traditional and fourth in Olympic for the 129 weight class. And the Yellow Jackets also got points from Jordan Simpson and Justis Davis.

Jensen Luke of Eustis had second- and third-place finishes. Teammate Zeta Zachman also was a state runner-up.

Luke and Horizon’s Jordan Schwenneker each had 295 Olympic totals in the 129 weight class. Jensen weighed in lighter prior to lifting, so she placed second and Schwenneker third.

Other 2A area medalists were: Brooke-Lynn Cater, Eustis (fifth) and Payton Woermer, Deltona (sixth).

Area class 1A medalists were: Grace Grant of The First Academy (third); Mount Dora teammates Sophia Vo (third) and Ayla Sevilleno (fourth); and Windermere Prep teammates Grace Lopez (fourth) and Bella Akabane (fifth).

World and national champion leads Orlando All-Area girls weightlifting team

Varsity Content Editor Buddy Collings can be reached by email at