Six weightlifters for Team Hinesville competed at the second annual Howard Cohen Classic Sept. 22 in Savannah — and for three of the lifters, it was their first time on the big stage.
While all of the lifters placed well in their respective weight classes, including four first-place finishes, it was Team Hinesville veteran James Fox who scored a major accomplishment. Fox finished first overall in the 85-kilogram weight class and set new competition personal bests. He also qualified for the Junior Nationals set for February in Foster City, Calif. At the Howard Cohen Classic, Fox, 17, lifted a combined total of 218 kilograms — 106 kilograms in the snatch and a PR of 112 kilograms in the clean and jerk — which means he can either compete in the 85-kilogram weight class or move up to the 94-kilogram division.
“I’ve been trying to move up,” he said. “I’m in between the 85-94 kilo class and I like being there because even if I were to lift in the 94 class I would be the lightest 94 there and if I match a total lift with someone else in the 94 kilo class I would win by body weight.”
Fox, a Long County High School student, said he plans to work on his clean-and-jerk technique as he prepares for nationals, saying he thinks it’s his weakest lift.
“I can snatch all day, but if I can’t clean and jerk there is no point in lifting,” he said.
Fox is attempting to make the 2016 Olympic team while looking to apply to universities like Harvard, John Hopkins and Columbia.
“I’ve discussed it with my former coach Jenna (Bussard),” Fox said about his future plans. “The colleges I want to go to are all up north … and there are weightlifting centers up there, and Jenna can get me connected with some coaches. If Jenna stays in Maryland, then she will continue to train me up there.”
In other Team Hinesville results, Evan Oldham, 19, said it was his first time competing after trading in his bowling ball for Olympic-style lifting and started training in May. Oldham competed in the 62-kilogram weight class and finished first overall with a 35-kilogram snatch and a 49-kilogram lift in the clean and jerk.
“Your first time, of course, you are going to have a bunch of nerves,” Oldham said. “My heart was beating as fast as it probably has in a long time because you are not used to that kind of situation. But after a while, you just get used to it and you get a handle of it and you do the best you can. I finished very well; I got five of my six lifts.”
Oldham said he didn’t know if he was going to pursue weightlifting as his long-term athletic career, but added he could picture himself lifting weights for a while and working toward future goals and competitions.
“Right now, it’s a nice thing for me to do,” he said. “I’m trying to make it to some of the national competitions; those are some of my larger goals that will take some time to make. But it’s a nice goal to set for myself and try and get to that level. “
Other first-place finishers for Team Hinesville were first-timer Andrea Lopez in the 35-kilogram class and Tori Miller in the 31-kilogram class.
Lopez, 9, admitted she was nervous at first.
“(Head c)oach Chris (Wood) told me to shake it all off, and I did, and I felt fine after that,” Lopez, a Frank Long Elementary student, said. “The highest I lifted was 20 in the clean and jerk. I like it; you get to do different things, and it’s fun to lift the weights over your head.”
Bradwell Institute student Mia Hannah, 17, said she turned to Crossfit to achieve her fitness goals, but after talking to Fox she decided to give lifting a shot. In her rookie meet, she lifted 60-kilograms in the clean and jerk and placed fourth in the 75-kilogram weight class.
“I was shaking, but honestly I was happy because there were other girls competing,” Hannah said. “It was really fun. I just want to do as much as I can with it … and I feel like it’s something that is just for me … it came really easy to me, and I want to do whatever I can with it.”
Hannah said she would like to compete in a national meet one day, but added the competition is tough in the women’s division.
“But I just want to compete until I get there,” she said.
Team Hinesville results
Evan Oldham — first in the 62-kilogram class; 35-kilogram snatch, 49-kilogram clean and jerk, 84 kilograms total
James Fox — first in the 85-kilogram class; 106-kilogram snatch, 112-kilogram clean and jerk, 218 kilograms total
Logan Avant — third in the 94-kilogram class; 74-kilogram snatch, 85-kilogram clean and jerk, 159 kilograms total
Tori Miller — first in the 31-kilogram class; 16-kilogram snatch, 26-kilogram clean and jerk, 42 kilograms total
Andrea Lopez — first in the 35-kilogram class; 15-kilogram snatch, 20-kilogram clean and jerk, 35 kilograms total
Mia Hannah — fourth in the 75-kilograms class; 49-kilogram snatch, 60-kilogram clean and jerk, 109 kilograms total