Pumping iron isn’t just a man’s sport, as four Liberty County High School Lady Panthers are proving.
The quartet of Panther iron maidens has qualified to compete in this weekend’s 2014 USA Weightlifting Youth National Championship in Daytona Beach, Florida. Alexus Cisco and Jhanee O’Neil will compete in the 58-kilogram weight classification, Destiny Hall classified within the 63-kilogram class, and Alyisha Anderson will lift in the 69-kilogram class.
All four girls and their weightlifting coach, Keith McGee, were recognized during Tuesday night’s Liberty County Board of Education meeting for their recent accomplishments.
Anderson, a relative newcomer to the sport, started weight lifting during the second semester of the recently completed school year after several conversations with some of her football-playing friends.
“And I wanted to try it out and see how it was … I got started and I fell in love with it,” Anderson said. “My thighs are bigger now, and I am getting more toned and it helps your abs, too, and I feel like it is making me a better person overall, too.”
Anderson said she participates on the school’s step team, plays volleyball and is a triple jumper and runner on the Lady Panthers’ track team. She said last year was the first time she competed in the triple jump and credited weight lifting for improving her skills to qualify for the state track meet.
“Weight training has increased my speed and my vertical (jump) … I went from a 24 (-inch) vertical to a 30 and my 40 (-yard dash) time went from a 5.5 to 5 seconds flat,” she said.
Anderson said her personal best in the clean and jerk is 72 kilograms, but she has cleaned 75 kilograms before. She has cleared 54 kilograms in the snatch lift.
She said she prefers the snatch lift, which, according to bodybuilding.about.com, involves lifting a barbell from the floor to above the head in one motion.
“It takes more strength and technique. It is more challenging, and I like challenges,” Anderson said.
Whereas Anderson is a bit new to the sport, 16-year-old Destiny Hall has trained with McGee for the past three years.
She said she also prefers the snatch lift and has hit 55 kilograms as her personal best. Her best clean and jerk is 72 kilograms.
Also a standout track athlete, Hall said she started weight training when she was told it might help increase her speed. She said at first, she doubted it would, but soon loved weightlifting.
“It did make me faster in track,” she said, citing it for helping her win races by improving her ability to have a stronger push-off in her race starts.
“My personal goal is to medal and set a (personal record),” Hall said about this weekend’s competition, adding she would like to lift 75 or 77 kilograms in the clean and jerk.
McGee said if the Lady Panthers place well, they would qualify for the 2014 Junior National Meet later this year.