Training with the strongest
by Courtney Price
DENVER – More than 60 men and women from as far as Kentucky will compete this weekend to be known as one of the state’s strongest.
USA Powerlifting North Carolina will hold the state championships Saturday, June 2, at the Lincoln Charter High School gym. The free event begins with a weigh-in at 8 a.m., and lifting begins at 10 a.m.
Denver resident Jennifer Thompson is helping to organize the event. Thompson, who teaches algebra at the charter school, is a four-time world champion lifter. She started lifting 14 years ago.
“I enjoyed lifting weights with my husband, and I just decided to try a competition,” she said. “I set all sorts of records my first time around.”
She now serves as chairwoman for the state powerlifting organization, and her husband, Donovan, is a coach on the World Team.
The two have been training students from East Lincoln, North Lincoln and Lincoln Charter high schools. About 15 will compete this weekend.
“I’ve been in it long enough that it’s something I enjoy giving back to,” Thompson said. “You have this sense of pride for them.”
Devan Cox, a ninth-grader at North Lincoln High, said he’s been training in powerlifting for about a year and a half.
“We have a blast doing it,” Cox said. “Just the competition between you and yourself and other people, and the excitement of being able to beat yourself.”
Several of the students are in Thompson’s algebra class, and most of them are girls.
“My main goal is to get more female powerlifters,” Thompson said. “Statewide, we don’t have a very large female participation (in the sport.) I think it’s important for female athletics in general. We need to support each other and encourage each other.”
When Hailey Johnston, a ninth-grader at Lincoln Charter, started lifting, she set a bunch of records because there weren’t any to beat.
“I’ve made it possible for more girls to get interested in it,” Hailey said. “It’s mainly a guy’s sport.”
East Lincoln junior James Daniel has only been lifting for about three months, but he’s excited to enter his second competition.
“I think I’ll do pretty well if I just listen to the commands,” he said. “They give you commands for when you’re supposed to lift and when you’re supposed to rack the weight. I hope to get a little more weight than I’m used to.”
James, Devan and four other high school boys traveled to Georgia in April to compete in the Southeastern High School State Wars. The team finished third overall and several first-place awards individually.
Devan said the Thompsons have been teaching them from the ground up, starting with just the bar and eventually adding more and more weight.
“For me it’s important that they have really good form,” Thompson said. “You can really get hurt. Good form makes you work all the right muscles in all the right places.”
Devan said it’s worked.
“They mentally prepare us, they physically prepare us, they keep our minds right,” he said. “You feel bigger, you feel stronger and you feel better about yourself.”
Want to watch?
NC Powerlifting Championship
When: Saturday, June 2, 10 a.m.
Where: Lincoln Charter School, 7834 Galway Lane