A group of Greenbrier athletes may feel they have the weight of the world on their shoulders as they prepare for state competition.
Actually, the burden is closer to half a ton each.
The four weightlifters already have demonstrated their skill and strength by lifting a total of 3,835 pounds together and leading their fledgling team to a third-place victory in the Area Four Meet on Feb. 28. The next step will be state competition Saturday, where the lifters will take on about 200 competitors from across Georgia.
"They are really dedicated, and we always expect the best out of them," said Coach Rodney Holder, who runs the weightlifting program with xoach Charlie Fales.
Paul Maness, Wesley Merriweather, Eric Smith and Charles Middleton are up to the challenge, and have been getting ready through good work habits, committed training and mental preparedness, Holder said. The boys, who compete in different groups determined by their body weight, will get three attempts at three different lifts: bench press, squat, and power clean. The heaviest lift in each category will be added together for a total.
Erik Smith qualified to compete in the March 13 state weightlifting meet at Hawkinsville High School.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Merriweather, whose body weight falls in the 141-150-pound class, lifted a total of 960 pounds in the Area Four Meet and secured a first-place finish.
Maness, Smith and Middleton each secured second-place finishes with respective totals of 775, 955 and 1,145 pounds. Also placing were William Bishop fifth, Julian Quattlebaum, sixth, Nick Alexander, fourth, and Tyler Dent, fifth.
The program began last year with encouragement from athletic director Mickey Derrick, and has grown from four boys to 23 this year, Holder said. The lifters train during weightlifting class, but may also work out after school. They follow a regimented routine to get maximum impact from workouts, Maness said.
"We lift Monday though Friday, and we follow sets," the junior said.
The athletes alternate days working on the upper and lower body, "Then we combine them to get variations in the different muscle groups," Maness said.
A typical workout might consist of seven sets of lifts, with three repetitions each, at a weight of about 85 percent of their maximum ability. Proper diet is also an important part of the sport.
"We maintain our body weight through a healthy diet," said Merriweather, a junior who avoids junk food and consumes protein for muscles along with fish, fruits and vegetables.
Focusing on the task at hand and visualizing success is another key aspect of the sport, Middleton said.
"You have to see yourself getting a good lift," the junior said. Though the weightlifting season will end with the state meet, the athletes will have a chance to use their power skills as they prepare for the upcoming football season.
"All four will play a big role on our varsity football team next fall," Holder said.
Currently, all those who participated in the area meet are football players, although it is not a requirement in order to be part of the weightlifting team, Holder said.
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