Team Hinesville weightlifters and brothers Mack and Dominique Brunson placed first and second, respectively, at the 2010 USA Weightlifting National Junior Championships in Rochester, Minn., the last weekend in February.
Mack Brunson, a freshman at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo., qualified for the Junior World Championship, which will be in Bulgaria in June. The older Brunson brother said he placed first in the 62K weight class by lifting 220 pounds in the snatch category and 291 pounds in the clean and jerk.
Brunson, who is studying to become an athletic trainer, said he is preparing for the world meet by working out with a weightlifting team at Lindenwood under the guidance of coach Derrick Johnson.
"I’m busy weightlifting at the moment," he said. "But I’m also looking to train in gymnastics in my spare time."
Mack Brunson started making waves for Team Hinesville last year when he placed second at the School-Age Nationals and qualified for the 2009 Pan-American Games. Brunson later earned a bid and competed at the Quebec Junior Nationals.
His little brother Dominique has also placed at several meets.
After earning a silver medal at his first meet in the 2009 AAU Junior Olympics, the younger Brunson said his goal is to beat everyone in the sport, including his older brother.
"Basically, I’m not trying to follow in his footsteps. I’m trying to step over him," the high school student said with a smile.
With his second place showing at the Junior Nationals, Dominique Brunson is on his way to gold. He competed in the 56K weight class, but said he will compete at 62K at the next meet.
"Cutting weight to compete at 56K isn’t really good for my body right now," he said. "I’m going to try and get my numbers up and my totals up. I’m getting stronger, but I want to try and win the school-age this year in the 62K class. And it’s coming."
According to Team Hinesville coach Jenna Bussard, Dominique Brunson qualified for an international meet after placing at the Junior Nationals.
"Dominique qualified to go to the Sub 17 Pan-Am Games," Bussard said.
However, the coach said they had to turn down the opportunity due to lack of funds to cover travel expenses.
"It would cost around $2,000 and the meet was to be set in about a month from now and we didn’t think we could raise the funds that quickly, so we had to decline it," she said. "It would have been his first opportunity at an international meet."
The coach said the team is concentrating on raising funds so they can make the trip to the school-age meet in California. Dominique Brunson will compete in the Foster City, Calif., match in June.
"Last year, it cost us around $800 just to send two team members to compete at school-age," Bussard said.
She said Team Hinesville still has about 10 lifters in different stages of development, including Jaleel Menifee and David Purser, who both placed well at last year’s AAU Junior Olympics.
The coach said Purser’s younger brother Michael shows promise and newcomer Rebecca Carter likely will place well in upcoming meets.
Mack Brunson and David Purser will compete at the National Collegiate next month.Bussard, who was ranked 36th in the world among women weightlifters in the 75-plus kilogram weight class and fourth in the World Weightlifting Championships in Greece in 2008, said she plans to concentrate on coaching this year. She said she might have to sit out a season after she fractured her collarbone in a car accident in November.
"I took some time off to let it heal, but tried to compete in a meet in January in Beaufort, S.C.," Bussard said. "I was doing fine and was on my last clean and jerk maneuver when the bar crashed on my collarbone and re-injured it. I’m going to focus on letting my body heal and pushing these kids to reach their full potential. I can come back at it later on."
The coach said the year off will allow her to heal the collarbone injury and several years of competitive stress injuries that build up over a period of time.
"I’ll be able to come back in much better shape," she said.
In the meantime, helping her team through drills and routines and raising funds to give the kids opportunities to compete and see the world is her main focus.
"I’ve applied for grant money, but we just have to see what happens," Bussard said.
To become a sponsor or make a donation to Team Hinesville, call Bussard at 429-0931.