Three members of the Team Hinesville weight lifting team got the opportunity to step on stage at the 2011 National School Age Weightlifting Championships on June 25 in Flowery Branch. All three finished ninth or better and helped their sister organization — Team Savannah — win the male 16- to 17-year-old division overall.
Dominique Brunson, Michael Purser and James Fox represented Liberty and Long counties for Team Hinesville. Brunson finished second in the 69-kilogram weight class by snatching 90 kilos and lifting 110 kilos in the clean and jerk. Purser competed in the 89-kilogram weight class and cleared 89 kilos in the snatch and 112 kilos in the clean and jerk to finish sixth. Fox took ninth place in the 77-kilogram weight class, lifting 83 kilos in the snatch and clearing 90 kilos in the clean and jerk.
“I was very happy with what I did,” Purser said. “I got a 9-kilo personal best in the snatch and a 5-kilo personal best in the clean and jerk, so I broke a 200-kilo total, which is really good for me.
“I appreciate the United Way and the Liberty County Health Department for helping us fund the meet. We probably would not have been able to go if it wasn’t for them. I hope we keep preparing ourselves and show them that we are not a waste of their time.”
Team Hinesville coach Jenna Bussard confirmed that Fox and Purser hit new personal bests with their lifts at the meet. She added that Brunson did extremely well despite the fact that he hasn’t been able to train as much as usual due to personal reasons and school.
“We already knew that we had second place locked up with Dominique, and we let him try whatever he wanted,” she said. “He tried 100 kilos in the snatch; he’s made that in the gym before but he missed it in the competition.”
But the coach said they devised a strategy around Brunson and kept adding weight to each successive lift, forcing his opponent to do the same in order to try to move ahead.
“(Brunson) cleaned 130k, but on the drive up to the jerk, he hit himself in the chin,” Bussard explained. “The other guy tried for 135 and he pulled it; he couldn’t even clean it. We had a strategy behind why we did what we did with Dominique. By us doing what we did, it helped out another lifter on Team Savannah to get best overall lifter.”
Fox said he did better at this meet compared to others.
“In the clean and jerk I hit 90k, which lately I had not been able to do, because I pulled my deltoid muscle,” he said. “Personally, I think I do better in competition because my adrenaline is going and I feel more confident in competitions than I do in workouts. I’m working on my confidence, but the more I train, the better and the better I get, the more my confidence will boost.”
The top six competitors in each weight class earned points for their team.
“So, Dominique and Michael got us points and James beat out a guy that would have given our competitor points, and that allowed Team Savannah to earn their fourth consecutive win for this meet,” Bussard said.
She said some of her lifters are spending a few days each week training at the Anderson/Cohen Weightlifting Center in Savannah to improve their techniques.
“They have jerk blocks and we don’t,” Bussard said. “And all my guys are weak in the shoulder when it comes to jerk lifts. And you have two of the best coaches in the world at Savannah in Michael Cohen and Henry Meyers. They have both produced numerous national champions and school national, junior national, world team members, Olympic members. You name it, they’ve produced it.”
Bussard said Meyers and Cohen are good technical coaches and can spot flaws in a lift technique, especially in the jerk.
“I’m still a new coach in the game and I’ll admit there are certain things that I don’t know and I can’t see, and they can, especially in the jerk,” she said. “I’ve tried to fix these little technical flaws with everything in here (at the LCRD’s Shuman Center), but with these guys (at the Anderson/Cohen Center), everything is clicking. And to these guys, going to that gym is like going to the Olympic Training Center, because you are training with some of the best athletes in the world at the Savannah gym.”
Bussard said she has several lifters that already have qualified for the AAU Junior Olympics next month in New Orleans. This will be her fourth year coaching a team at the Junior Olympics.
“I want to go there and blow everyone out of the water,” she said. “I have confidence in all the guys that I take, and once we get closer, I’ll know exactly what they need to lift to place.
“We had a great turnout last year with the team that went, and Team Savannah’s track record at these nationals is phenomenal. I don’t think we won it last year, but before that we won the AAU championships for the past 10 years. I’m going to focus on my lifters and what my lifters do and that is all that matters.”