Traudt rises from fender bender to the top of the podium (again)

Samantha Traudt
Hernando County’s and NCT’s Samantha Traudt first-ever two-time female state champion: Samantha Traudt. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
GIRLS WEIGHTLIFTING

NCT’s Samantha Traudt

closes prep career with

record-tying 9 straight wins

BY TONY CASTRO

HernandoSport.com

Samantha Traudt at the 2017 FHSAA State Championship at Bellview High School. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Samantha Traudt at the 2017 FHSAA State Championship at Belleview High School. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Ironically, in a local rush to success, Nature Coast Technical’s Samantha Rose Traudt was better known for her “slow and steady” approach in the weight room en route to winning her last nine weight lifting meets, including two FHSAA State Finals gold medals in 2016 and 2017.

Her amazing run began innocently with her first regional and state crowns 2016 at Leesburg and Kissimmee, respectively.

But in August of last year, Traudt didn’t brake quick enough to stop her 2007 Mitsubishi Gallant.

As a consequence, her first-ever vehicle hit another.

Despite the collision, she was able to complete her journey.

Within a week, however, she began experiencing pain.

It turned out to be four bulging disks in her back.

For any athlete being advised by a physician “not to do anything” would set them back.

Now, imagine you’re the State of Florida’s defending Class 1A state champion and you’re attempting to do what no previous Hernando County female has ever done before – win back-to-back titles – and you’re confronted with a reality check.

Samantha Traudt concentrates on the bar prior to starting a bench press at the 2017 FHSAA State Championship at Bellview High School. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Samantha Traudt concentrates on the bar prior to starting a bench press at the 2017 FHSAA State Championship at Belleview High School. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

For the next two months, Traudt stayed out of the weight room.

“It was hard not lifting,” explained the current 18-year-old Traudt. “It was so emotional. I thought my season was iffy. I knew that if I didn’t rest and allowed my body to heal, it would affect my neck for the rest of my life.”

Traudt, who also works as a shift manager at Marco’s Pizza, admitted, “I’d do lunges, but whatever I thought was too heavy, I’d have someone else lift it for me.”

Her coach at NCT, Rudy Story, accepted the seriousness of the moment.

Rudy Story
Rudy Story

“After she had the car accident, I was worried about her not lifting. To me, her safety was more important,” recalled Story. “I told her that she didn’t have to prove anything to anybody and could just help out in weight room if need be. I remember the look she gave me like I was crazy, of course she’d be back.

“ … She wasn’t quite ready when the season started and we took things easy.”

“During the first few meets, I did what I could and just went slow. I wanted to be healthy for the four meets that really matter (county, district, region, state),” revealed Traudt on her timetable. “I was still hurting. On a scale of 1-10, the pain was a four. After the meet, is when I really felt it.”

What unfolded was the stuff of legends.

The 5-foot-3 brunette reeled off a county-best seven straight wins including versus Lecanto, another in the Hernando tri-meet and at Inverness-Citrus.

She rolled into the post-season capturing gold at the Hernando County Meet, 1A-10 at Weeki Wachee, 1A-V at Belleview before achieving history in Marion County.

Samantha Traudt waits for the judge signal a complete lift to assure her first place finish at the 2017 FHSAA State Championship at Bellview High School. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Samantha Traudt waits for the judge’s signal to complete final clean-and-jerk lift to assure her first place finish at the 2017 FHSAA State Championship at Belleview High School.                                       Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Samantha Traudt
Samantha Traudt

“Walking into states, I figured I could do very well. Winning it all was a little iffy,” recalled Traudt. “I just went in there wanting to do my absolute best.

“When I got a 170 in my bench that was a PR (personal record). That’s when I decided why not go for it (gold). I was leading the competition at that point. The other girls seemed nervous,” recalled Traudt. “I definitely felt I gave everything I had. I did things, I didn’t expect. It was truly an amazing experience.”

Returning to Belleview High, the second-seeded Traudt became the first Hernando County female lift to post back-to-back gold-medal winning seasons with a personal-best 170-180350-pound total.

In the process, Traudt became the first Hernando County lifter (male or female) to garner back-to-back gold medals for the first time since Hernando High’s Anthony Roberts, who achieved the feat under skipper Bill Browning in 2004-05.

Traudt also tied NCT’s stud Ashley Gentz with a county record nine straight wins.

Ashley Gentz. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Ashley Gentz Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Traudt, a recent NCT grad, departed with 16 individual wins in 21 career meets.

Gentz still retains holds the county record for most meet victories in a single season (9) and most career wins (22).

“Winning two state championships was great,” beamed Traudt. “It’s nice to have great coaches. It’s nice to do something that’s never been done here before.”

It was no surprise that the area coaches unanimously voted the Traudt to her third straight All-Hernando County all-star squad, but also feted her as the circuit’s repeat Hernando County Lifter of the Year.

Traudt: Coaches heap praise

Rudy Story
Rudy Story

“It’s really a heart-warming story to see her comeback,” stressed Coach Story. “What sets Sam apart? She’s slow and steady with the bar; whether its 135 or 195. She has such a beautiful routine.

In continuing to describe her, “Sam is probably the most humble lifter I’ve seen,” said Story. “You’d never know she’s a two-time state champion with how she goes about her business … Now, when the singlet goes on, she becomes Super Woman … You’d never know it if you bumped into her in school … To me, she’s the epitome of what we’re trying to teach all the other girls … You can not replace a two-time state champion, we only can hope to have more girls. Will I ever coach another state champion? I sure hope so.”

“No one can ever say Sam doesn’t put in the work,” shared Weeki Wachee assistant mentor Annelise Rentas, who was a teammate of Traudt at NCT. “She works so hard in the weight room and outside … I think her gymnastic ability from a young age really helped her … After the accident, she came back stronger than ever … Her biggest asset? She’s an all-around good lifter … She has great form with her clean and jerk … And there’s that blood line of competition with he sisters.”

Chris Sands
Chris Sands

“When you’re a two-time state champion; she’s done the job,” emphasized Hernando’s Mike Einspahr. “I think her work in her cleans really stand out … See did a phenomenal job of blocking out all the distractions to win again.”

“Obviously, when you have a second gold medal around your neck that’s the ticket to Lifter of the Year,” pointed out Central High’s Chris Sands. “Her consistency really showed … She eat well and trained her body to always be on weight; she was always on point.”

“Statistically-speaking, how could anyone else have done more?” offered Springstead’s veteran skipper Mike Garofano. “You can’t take away two gold medals. This is awesome for her.”

 

Samantha Traudt 139. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
2016 Class 1A State Champion Samantha Traudt at 139. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Traudt is stout

Samantha was born in Dunedin as the second oldest of four daughters to Mark and Michelle Traudt.

Unlike her parents, who were raised in Massachusetts, the 137-pounder has called Spring Hill home since she born in Pinellas County.

The brown-tressed and brown-eyed Traudt traced her athletic roots to gymnastics.

At 8, she competed for six years at the nearby Stars and Stripes Gymnastics Academy.

Her favorite event was the floor exercise and she loved to tumble.

When Traudt matriculated to Powell Middle School she opted to dance as a sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grader.

Because she spent so much time honing her dance skills, Traudt opted not to compete in any sports for the Panthers.

That approach was altered when she entered Nature Coast Technical.

She competed in weightlifting for four seasons and competed in track and field as a junior and senior.

Traudt revealed she initially joined weightlifting because she’d watched her oldest sister (Brittney) compete at NCT.

“I got into weightlifting because my sister did it,” recalled Traudt. “In gymnastics, I also did cross fit training and that’s when I was introduced to lifting. So it wasn’t something brand new to me when I got to high school.”

She says she realized she wasn’t an instant success under the bar, but enjoyed the sport enough to come back and get hooked.

“I was never lifting just to out-do my sister,” recalled Traudt. “I quickly fell in love with it and I wanted to see how far it could take me.”

Samantha Traudt. Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO
Samantha Traudt                                                                                            Photo by JOE DiCRISTOFALO

Looking ahead

Samantha Traudt
Samantha Traudt

When Traudt isn’t competing she’s an all-star in her studies carrying a 3.7 unweighted and 4.0 weight grade point average in the medical cluster.

She aspires to study sports science at USF in Tampa.

“I’d like to help people and help with the athletes,” she said.

As far as lifting in the future, “I‘m not gonna compete competitively. I couldn’t have asked for a better finish. I made lots of history,” smiled Traudt. “I have great memories. God gave me a great gift and my coaches never gave up on me. And my family has supported me since Day 1. They would not allow me to give up on myself.

“…What stands out? Everything we did as a team,” emphasized Traudt. “We shared a lot of good moments. Even though we graduate a lot, if this group remains determined enough they’ll accomplish more.”

In between her studies at USF, she’ll encourage her younger siblings: NCT’s Isabella and Courtney Traudt.

“Both have of them have to want it and both have to put in the time,” reminded Traudt.

Before heading off to the next chapter of her life, “I’d like to be known as someone who was strong and won twice,” smiled Traudt. “I’d like to be remembered as someone who connected with their teammates, someone who was confident, but was not cocky.”

By the Numbers:

NCT’s Samantha Traudt (2015-17)

– Compiled by TONY CASTRO

2016-17

Samantha Traudt
Samantha Traudt
 

WGT

 

OPPONENT

 

BEN-CLN-TOT

 

PL

 

139

Lecanto

100-95—195

1st

 

154

Hernando tri-meet

120-125—245

1st

 

139

Citrus

125-135—260

1st

 

139

HN CO Championship

140-150—290

1st

 

139

1A District 10 Meet

145-145—290

1st

 

139

1A Region V Meet

150-160—310

1st

 

139

1A State Finals

170-180—350

1st

2015-16

Samantha Traudt Ashley Gentz
Samantha Traudt         Ashley Gentz
 

WGT

 

OPPONENT

 

BEN-CLN-TOT

 

PL

 

154

Weeki Wachee

140-150—280

1st

 

139

Lecanto

150-160—310

1st

 

154

Hernando

155-170—325

1st

 

139

Disparti VI

160-170—330

2nd

 

154

Citrus

160-180—340

1st

 

139

1A District 10 Meet

165-185—350

2nd

 

139

1A Region V Meet

160-180—340

1st

 

139

1A State Finals

170-180—350

1st

 

 

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