Heavy lifting has helped the Harlem High School football team achieve success in recent years, but the school's weight facility could use some pumping up.
"We've been lifting weights in a matchbox for so long," says Jimmie Lewis, Harlem's football coach, baseball coach and athletic director.
Now Harlem athletes are about to get an extra spark, in the form of a new weight room.
A multi-purpose facility designed for males and females will be built behind the Harlem gym. Construction on the 100x50-foot building is set to begin in about two weeks.
"It's going to be fabulous," Lewis said.
The cost to erect the building is around $50,000. A state grant, and funds raised from alumni donations, including a $20,000 gift by one individual, have helped bring the project this far.
Lewis says the school will need additional community support for the finishing touches.
'We need furnishings for inside the weight room, and we hope to have heating and air conditioning," Lewis said. "The alumni have been good to us, but I can't find them all."
Lewis wants to get the word out about the project.
Donations can be send to:
Harlem High School Weight Room
1070 Appling-Harlem Road
Harlem, Ga. 30814
"We're going to put a big bronze plaque out there with the names of anyone who donates money for the weight room," Lewis said.
For more information, or if any Harlem alumni is interested in contributing, contact Lewis at 556-5980 (work) or 556-6659 (home).
Before hitting the books at Greenbrier High School, Wesley Merriweather hits the weights.
He arrives at 6:45 every morning before school to pump iron, and the dedication paid off in the Georgia High School Association weightlifting championships.
At last weekend's state meet in Hawkinsville, Merriweather totaled 970 pounds on three lifts (squat, bench and power clean).
With that show of strength, he easily won the 141-150 pound division
"Pound-for-pound, he tied for the strongest overall person at the meet," Greenbrier coach Rodney Holder said. "It's incredible to see someone who weighs 150 pounds lift that much weight."
Three other Greenbrier lifters flexed their muscles at the state meet.
Charles Middleton (226-245 division) totaled 1,085 pounds to place fourth, Erik Smith (205-225 division) totaled 935 pounds to place eighth, and Paul Maness (140-and-under) lifted 775 pounds to finish 10th.
In the team standings, Greenbrier and Fitzgerald tied for third, behind champion Newman and runner-up Washington County.
"It's a real big accomplishment for our program," Holder said. "These guys train hard, and they all play football, but they take weightlifting pretty seriously."
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