Elizabethton unit sending seven lifters to Nationals

8:14 am | March 22, 2012

The Elizabethton Cyclones power lifting team has seven qualifiers for the National power lifting tournament being held in Wisconsin-Dales, Wisconsin today through Saturday.

The seven – all from the girls’ side of the team – include six underclassmen whose cumulative points will go to team totals and one senior who will compete in what is called the varsity tournament.

The underclassmen compete in the JV section of the tournament.

Elisa Bird (97 lb class) is a returnee to the national after winning All-America honors last season and is regarded by head coach Alex Campbell as having a good chance for a top five finish.

“Bird has a good shot to be in the top one or two,” said Campbell. “She has great technique and is very strong. I expect her to do well.”

Hannah Oliver (105 lbs.) is a freshman competing for the first time at this level and Campbell was quick to point out, “Going there for the first time is overwhelming for some kids. We will try to calm them down and point out that it’s just another competition, but sometimes it is overwhelming for them.”

Cerri Bradley (123 lbs.) is a sophomore who coach Campbell also thinks could be a top five and therefore earn All-America status.

Chelsea Williams is another sophomore returning for another shot at All-America status said of her first time, “I lost by 30 pounds total in my second match, but I won my first match. That really just motivated me to come back and try to win it this year.

“This is something I have been doing for a long time. The first time I came in here was in seventh grade and I really liked challenging myself.”

Chelsea Taylor is a senior competing in the 132 lb class like Williams, and is returning after making her first trip as a sophomore.

Sophomores Shayler Keefer (148 lbs) and Whitney Guinn are both first time qualifiers.

“Our goal is a team top five finish,” said assistant coach Chad Salyer. “We are giving away points at three spots, but I think overall our team is strong and will produce a good showing.”

Coach Campbell pointed out what the types of lifts are and how they are judged saying, “Power lifting is much different than people think and the rules are strict. There are three basic lifts you have to do and these are squats, dead lift and bench press. When doing a squat, your hips must go below your knees, on the bench press you have to pause at the chest before lifting, and the dead lift, which to me is the truest indication of human strength.”

This is the first season EHS has entered as a team and both Campbell and Salyer expect the most competition to come from Louisiana schools.

“Power lifting is huge in Louisiana for some reason,” Campbell said. “They usually have at least one school in the top five every year. I expect the kids will just compete to make the highest possible score they can individually, which will accumulate points team-wise, like wrestling.”

The only player that won’t count in the team points is Taylor who is a senior and therefore will compete at a different level.

“It really jumps from sophomore to junior and senior in terms of difficulty and competition,” Salyer said. “I think Chelsea will show real well for us, but her points won’t count for our team total. The team will compete in the JV section.”

Both Campbell and Salyer credit Paul Anderson of Hampton, himself a champion lifter as being the person most responsible for developing the training techniques that they coach into their players.

“Paul Anderson set Olympic records as a power lifter,” said Campbell. “He was trained by Bob Peoples who pound for pound may have been the best power lifter ever. I learned a lot from him and it is his techniques that I try and teach the kids here.”

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