Team Hinesville weightlifters, Kayla Rand and Mack Brunson, are the first members of the local weightlifting squad to earn bids to international meets. Rand is headed to Chile for the 2009 Pan-Am 17U Championships in September and Brunson will go to Canada in November for the Quebec Junior Championship.
Rand earned a bid with a third-place finish in the 69K plus weight class in the recent school age meet held June 19-21. USA Weightlifting
selected the top two performers with Rand as the alternate. When one of the other two competitors opted out, Rand was tapped to make the trip. It’s an opportunity she said she will not take for granted.
"This is a big step," the 17-year old said about her shot to compete in Chile. "I think if I do well at this meet it will give me more confidence to continue to compete on a larger scale."
Given the new opportunity Rand said she wants to hit personal records in the snatch and clean and jerk which may lead to a personal best in her overall total score.
"I’ll be happy if I hit 100K in the clean and jerk and 75K in the snatch," she said.
Brunson, 17, earned a bid placing well in the 2009 National Junior Championships held in Foster City, Calif., in March. Since then Brunson said he was nursing a wrist injury but competed in the 2009 Georgia District Games held in Savannah on July 11.
"In that meet I was back to my normal lifting," he said. "I placed first in my weight class and I beat my previous total.
Brunson competes in the 62K weight class and said going international doesn’t place any pressure on him.
"I’m more excited," he said.
"This is the first time Team Hinesville has ever had anybody go anywhere outside of America to compete," Team Hinesville coach Jenna Bussard said.
She said she thinks they will do well but placement, at this point, is not as important as making the team was.
"It’s just the fact that they made the team," she said. "They had to compete and beat out everybody else in the United States. It’s a big deal; they beat out other people trying to make the team. At school age Kayla probably competed against 300 other girls. Mack made his spot at the junior Nationals in California competing against every other guy."
Bussard is currently training for her own opportunity to make the World Weightlifting team and compete at the 2009 Goyang World Weightlifting Championships in Korea. She earned a bid to the World secondary qualifier in Colorado the last weekend in August.
"That is the trip I’ve been training for," Bussard said about her chance to make the World squad. "Just to be able to say I made the squad would make me happy. Most people would say their goal was to make the Olympic squad but you need to set smaller goals first. Not everyone will make the Olympic team; the next greatest honor is to make the World team. If you make the World team then the next step is to make the Olympic team so my personal goal for now is to make the World team. That would make me happy and satisfied with what I’ve done in weightlifting."
Bussard is also focused on helping her younger athletes find sponsors to cover the cost of their international trips.
Rand’s voyage to Chile will cost around $2,000 and Brunson’s trip is anywhere from $700-$1,000.
The coach said she is still waiting to see if the city is willing to sponsor a portion of the cost but has yet to hear back from them after approaching the commissioners.
If you would like to become a sponsor or make a donation to help Team Hinesville, call Bussard at 429-0931.