The Wewahitchka Jr./Sr. High School boys’ weightlifting team is shaping up as a legitimate contender for the Class 1A state title.

The Gators had three individual champions and hoped to advance four other lifters to the state meet after last weekend’s runner-up finish in the Region 2-1A meet at Panama City Beach Arnold High School.

The state meet will be held April 13 at Arnold.

Despite having several lifters battling illness, the Gators fell short of the region crown by just two points, finishing second 45-43 to Arnold.

In addition to producing three champions, every lifter earned points toward the team title.

“So close,” said Wewahitchka coach Bobby Johns. “That was an amazing accomplishment.

“We could have been a little better but overall it was a great day.”

Wewahitchka’s region champions, and automatic state qualifiers, were Jeremiah Rardin at 139 pounds, Reese Gainnie at 238 pounds and heavyweight Brett Miller.

Four other Wewahitchka lifters finished in the top three and are likely to advance to state based on overall weight lifted.

Tyler Hensley was second at 153 pounds and Keegan Calhoun (119 pounds), Treston Smith (139 pounds) and Tyreeq Thomas (219 pounds) each took third place.

Also adding to the Wewahitchka point total were Alex Williams, fifth at 169 pounds, Landin Lanier, sixth at 119 pounds, and Christian Mann, sixth at 199 pounds.