Guided by new coach Chris Wood, Team Hinesville weight lifters James Fox and Dustin Miller fared well at the 2011 Georgia-Alabama LWC Weightlifting Championships Dec. 17 at the Anderson/Cohen Weightlifting Center in Savannah.
Fox, a seasoned competitor, placed first in the 77-kilogram junior weight class.
Miller, 9, who stepped on the stage for the first time in Savannah, competed in the 46-kilogram school-age class and placed third.
And leading by example, the coach competed in the men’s 85-kilogram class and earned first place.
“It was not necessarily my best meet,” Wood said. “I had to be there the whole day and actually helped to run the event. I lifted just enough to win and move on without trying anything crazy. I snatched like 97 (kilos) and clean and jerked 120 (kilos), which is like my light openers. “As far as Dustin and James … James did his best numbers that he has ever done with me. It was Dustin’s first meet ever, so for him it wasn’t necessarily about hitting the numbers. It was more about being able to get in front of people and compete, because that first time can be really scary.”
Miller seemed to enjoy competing at his first event.
“It felt good. I’m probably going to become a professional weight lifter when I grow up. I like having the energy and being strong,” Miller said.
“You get six attempts, and (Miller) made four of six, even when nervous,” Wood added. “He made his first lifts, which is probably the hardest thing to do your first time in an event.”
The coach said Fox has a bright future in the sport provided he maintains his training and works on a few minor details.
“James is strong — he’s a bull,” Wood said. “The big thing for him right now is to work on his technique. The more efficient he is, the higher his numbers will go. He is much stronger than what his numbers indicate.”
Wood took over as Team Hinesville’s new coach about five weeks ago, replacing former coach and world weight lifting competitor Jenna Bussard, who moved away.
Wood, a Savannah native, said his athletic career began as a wrestler. He continued his wrestling career at Windsor Forest High School, where he later became the Knights’ team leader and eventual coach.
“I graduated from Windsor Forest and later coached there,” he said. “I ended up being the head of the team for five to six years, but while I was doing that … I started lifting for Team Savannah on the side. After lifting for four to five years, they gave me the opportunity to coach. Before I was a wrestling coach that was certified to teach weight lifting; now I’m a weight lifting coach and that is all I do.”
Wood said he is in the process of rebuilding Team Hinesville. Some former competitors have moved away, headed to college or decided to train in Savannah.
He said he had two or three kids to train when he first arrived at the Shuman Center’s weight lifting facility “and I think this month I’ve worked with as many as 10. It’s just a matter of getting the word out there.”
And while coaching kids for competitive meets is still part of his job function, Wood said he would like to see more kids come out to train for personal reasons as well.
“My biggest thing is I want to get as many kids into the building as possible. I would like to have as many kids competing as possible, but realistically what I want to offer is just an outlet for kids in the community,” the coach said. “Anything that gives kids something to do other than sitting in their house. It doesn’t have to be about competing. It’s nice that it’s offered here and you have the option, but mostly I want kids to have something to do.”
The weight lifting facility located adjacent to the Shuman Center in James Brown Park is free and open to the public.
The facility will be closed Monday and Jan. 2 for the holidays. Normally it is open from 4-9 p.m. Monday through Friday.