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Lady lifters in top ten
One brings home silver, two qualify for junior nationals
From left to right, Samantha Wright, Cassie Standard, Kayla Rand, coach KeithMcGee, Karen Donaldson, assistant coach Amy McGee and Ashley Cobb pose for the camera at Disney World where they competed in the National School age Olympic Weightlifting Championships June 20-22. - photo by Photo provided by Keith McGee.
Liberty County High School had four of their competitive weightlifters travel with coach Keith McGee and his daughter assistant coach Amy McGee to Disney World as they competed in the National School Age Olympic Weightlifting Championships June 20-22.
The competition pitted the best 17U weightlifters against each other.
While the assistant coach had competed in the annual event several times before and lifter Cassie Standard was in her second championship, the rest of the squad were first timers.
“I thought they did well,” Keith McGee said. “It was a new experience for most, especially as far as getting stricter with their diet and stricter with Olympic lifting versus just athletic lifting. I’m pleased with their performance and I believe I have two competitors that will help and form the foundation for our future team.”
McGee moved here from Arizona three years ago. In Arizona he coached a weightlifting team that was on top at each meet.
“Back in Arizona they have state championships in weightlifting just like they have for football and basketball here,” he said. “The last three years in Arizona my ladies team took the state championships.”
He hopes to develop a boys and girls team here in Liberty County, capable of the same accomplishment.
“I think and hope we can do it.”
As for the championship meet, lifter Kayla Rand, 16, took a silver medal for the 75-kilogram and above weight class lifting a total of 315 pounds (143 kgs.). McGee said Rand qualified for the junior nationals because of the weight she hoisted.
Cassie Standard, 17, finished fourth in the 58-kilogram weight class lifting a total of 258 pounds (17kgs.) and qualified for junior nationals.
Samantha Wright, 17, finished sixth in the 69-kilogram weight class lifting 231 pounds (105kgs.).
Karen Donaldson, 16, finished eighth in the 63-kilogram weight class lifting 187 pounds (85kgs.).
And Ashley Cobb finished eighth in the 69-kilogram weight class lifting 190 pounds (86kgs.).
McGee said those lifts may not sound like a big number for lifters who performs squats and bench presses.
“The lifts they competed in were the clean and jerk and the snatch, which are very difficult and technical in nature,” he explained. “They are the most explosive movements on the planet when it come to lifts.”
The coach explained that each competitor gets three lifts. Part of the team’s strategy is to figure out what the maximum lift each athlete is capable of and go slightly below that in their first attempt.
“The worst thing that can happen is to bomb out,” he said. “Which means miss three lifts, in this case three snatch repetitions. We didn’t, but there were other competitors there who bombed out. It doesn’t matter what you clean and jerk after that because it won’t count. You won’t be able to win a medal or score points for your team at all.”
In order to prepare, the athletes determine what she believes is their maximum lift based on previous performance.
“The first lift you want a little less than your max,” McGee said. “The second, if all goes as planned, should be near your max and the third is your max or new max. Many of the girls were able to get new maximum lifts there at the meet.”
The type of lift they use at the championship is McGee’s core lift for all the student athletes at LCHS who use weightlifting to improve their performance in other sports or weightlifting meets.
McGee said the championship at Disney was likely Standard’s last meet as a weightlifter even though she qualified for the junior nationals.
“Cassie qualified as well but she primarily did weightlifting to help her excel in the other sports she does like softball, golf, hunting and fishing,” the coach said.
For Rand the weightlifting bug has apparently bitten.
“She was excited when I told her she qualified for juniors,” McGee said. “Karen Donaldson is new but wants to continue in the sport and I think there will be others who will become excited about the program when they see the success we had.”
McGee has joined with team Savannah and Mike Cohen to compete at larger venues this season.
“He’s been very helpful,” the coach said. “There are other large meets like the junior nationals, where the athletes are 20 years old and under. That meet is coming up in April and we plan to get Kayla ready.”

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