ESJ team places 4th in lifting

Published 11:45 pm Friday, April 26, 2013



RESERVE – It took a little while for East St. John to get its competitive weightlifting program off the ground. But once the team came together, the Wildcats were determined to defy the odds.

East St. John captured fourth place overall in Saturday’s Louisiana state weightlifting championship meet in Baton Rouge, doing so in ESJ’s first season of competition.

The Wildcats team boasted just nine members: a complete team at the event consists of between 12 and 20 lifters. ESJ finished just three points out of third place.

“It was wonderful for us to be up there and to see our kids do what they did,” said Banko, who coaches the team with assistance from ESJ strength and conditioning coach Curtis Tsuruda. “We had a chance to finish third and to come so close and fall short, it’s a little like kissing your sister. But it shows how dedicated these young men are. Fourth ain’t too shabby.”

Sophomore Darren Moore took a first place finish in 51-kilos Class, 104-112 pounds to lead ESJ.

Darrelle Means captured a second place finish in 85-kilos, Class 169.422-187 pounds. David Alford nailed down a third place placement (62-kilos Class, 151.82-169.4 pounds).

Other ESJ team members that placed were: Derrick Semoneaux, fourth place, 69-kilos Class, 136.4 to 151.8 pounds; Torin Entteinne, fourth place, 77-kilos Class, 151.82 to 169.4 pounds; Mikel Stepler, fifth place, 77-kilos Class, 151.82 to 169.4 pounds; Edwin Florent, fourth place, 94-kilos Class, 187.002 to 206.8 pounds; Blaze Diaz, sixth place, 105-plus-kg Class, at least 231.001 pounds; and Darren Williams, seventh place, 105-plus-kg Class, at least 231.001 pounds.

Banko said that he hoped to put the team together in his first year as athletic director in the 2011-12 prep season, but the school wasn’t able to make it work logistically.

But the squad officially launched for this year and began preparation in December. The team’s beginning, like so much at East St. John over the past year, came under less than ideal circumstances, with the school’s fieldhouse and equipment flooded and rendered unusable during Hurricane Issac.

“If you saw where we work out every day, you’d shake your head and say, ‘No way did they place fourth in the state,’” said Banko. “Nobody uses it as an excuse to give less than their best effort. You just tip your cap to these guys.”

Of course, as the Wildcats head football coach, Banko likes some of the added benefits that the members of his weightlifting team enjoy.

“They’re all football players, and this just makes them better,” he said.

“We’re about to get back to work.”