MARQUETTE, Mich.—Michigan residents make up almost half of the weightlifting roster for the United States Olympic Education Center this season. Ten of the 21-member squad hail from Michigan. Three call Marquette home and one is a Munising native.
“I look everywhere for strong athletes,” head coach Vance Newgard said. “I was happy to find so many from Michigan.”
One Marquette native who qualified to be on the resident team is Holly O’Dovero. She is new to the sport, only starting a year ago, but has shown great potential by making significant strides in her lifting.
“Her lifts have made fast improvements,” Newgard noted. “Her totals have gone up 25 kilograms in the snatch and 20 kg in the clean and jerk.”
O’Dovero said, “I found I really enjoyed the sport. I am happy with my progression and I’m looking forward to continuing improvement.” She now has her sights set on the American Open in November in Palm Springs, Calif. “If I can lift high enough numbers in the next competition, that will allow me to enter more events, such as the Senior National Championships.”
Marquette residents Ann Bengry and Kyle LaJoye, as well as Munising native Andrew Wener, also earned positions on the resident team.
Bengry began lifting with Newgard at the age of 16 as strength training for swimming at Marquette Senior High School. She went on to swim for Northern Michigan University last season.
“I realized that weightlifting was what I really wanted to do,” Bengry said. “It is great that I could stay in Marquette to lift and not have to leave the area.”
LaJoye first began Olympic-style lifting with coach Newgard to stay in shape for running club track.
He agreed with Bengry: “Having the opportunity to lift at a place like this in my hometown and at my university is really special. I love the progression I see in this sport and it’s great I don’t have to leave the area to pursue competitive Olympic-style lifting.”
Wener’s interest in the sport began when he visited the Superior Dome as a high school football player. He had the opportunity to watch part of a USOEC weightlifting practice while he was there. Wener went on to attend Eastern Michigan University and lift with a club coach, but he was drawn back to Northern and the Upper Peninsula.
“I remembered the USOEC had a team. I really wanted a more structured program and a fulltime coach, so I contacted NMU,” said Wener. This desire led him to train at the USOEC during the summer to prove he deserved a spot on the resident team.
All members of the USOEC Weightlifting Team will be demonstrating their skills in an inter-squad competition from 4 p.m.-6:30 p.m., Oct. 28, in the Superior Dome, to gain qualifying totals for upcoming competitions. The event is free and open to the public. For more information on the weightlifting team and the USOEC, please visit www.nmu.edu/usoec.