Boys weightlifting became a Florida High School Athletic Association sanctioned sport in 1975. Nearly 40 years later, just a handful of lifters have etched their way into the history books by winning three or more State Championships. Altha lifter Ronnie Tucker looks to join that elite club in his Senior Season.
"Nobody pays attention to weightlifting," he laughed. "It's kind of a hidden sport. When they look at me and they see as many titles as I have, they start to realize it's not that easy."
But people are beginning to pay attention. Ronnie's already rewritten the weightlifting record books at Altha, and now, looks to become just the second weightlifter from the Panhandle to ever win three State Titles.
"It makes me pretty happy to know that somebody from Altha is going to be in the record books," said fellow lifter Daniel Lowery.
"Ever since I started weightlifting I knew that I would win, it's just I never really knew I'd be this good at it," said Ronnie.
That success hasn't come easy, as Ronnie has three weightlifting periods a day, and more often then not, lifts after school to make sure he stays at the top. Also at the top? His grades, as Ronnie balances a 3.4 GPA.
"I went over to his house a few times to hang out and he stays up pretty late in his books," said Daniel.
"A lot of staying up at night and falling asleep doing homework," laughed Ronnie. "That's it."
Ronnie hopes that all around dedication carries over, as with State less then a month out, the pressure is on, and it's something that's always in the back of his mind.
"It's always stressful, because you never know if there's going to be someone better then you or if there's someone training harder then you," he said. "Honestly, it doesn't mean anything if I lose this year. Being this is my last year, I want to make sure I have the most titles. If I lose this year, it's all been for nothing."
Leaving Altha a three-time State Champ, and rewriting the record books, is a pretty sure way to turn a hidden sport, into something everyone is talking about.
Weightlifting Finals start April 25th in Kissimmee, and right now, Ronnie's at the top of the 139 weight class. For college, he says he wants to go into something in the medical field, and has hopes of attending Florida State.