Area weightlifters bound for nationals

star staff

  Three area weightlifters qualified for the national event in Texas after a good showing at the in USADL Power-Lifting of the Mid-Atlantic in Charlottesville, Va.
  The trip to the nationals will be expensive for these competitors, but with the help of the community they are hoping some fund-raising ideas will make the dream possible.
  "We're going to sell shirts and do whatever possible to raise money for these guys," said Happy Valley weightlifting coach Alex Campbell. "We've got a weightlifting competition coming up to raise money, which is called "Night of the Living Dead," and we'll raise money anyway to get them there. I think they are all going to be real competitive."
  Two brothers Brandon and Lance Whitehead have excelled in weightlifting competitions throughout the year.
  Brandon won the Bob Peoples Award at the Hampton High School competition earlier this year, as his lifting in retrospect to his body weight was more than any other competitor.
  "I had a bench of 210 pounds and dead-lift of 390 pounds, which was five pounds from tripling my body weight then," said Brandon Whitehead. "They give me the Bob Peoples Award and that was what I had been shooting for since I was a junior in high school."
  During the meet at Charlottesville, Brandon weighed in at 127 pounds, tripling his body weight in both the dead-lift and squat.
  "I squatted 385 pounds and dead-lifted 400 pounds, but my benching wasn't as good as I would have liked it to be," said Brandon Whitehead. "In February I had a 190-pound bench and this time I had 185 pounds."
  Brandon says he's not been focused on benching so far, but it is something he'd like to improve on.
  "I'd like to get eight times my body weight, and if I can get that going, then hopefully I'll have it for my total," Brandon Whitehead said.
  Brandon's total has increased 100 pounds since February, and he still has time to advance that effort.
  "My total skyrocketed this time -- it went from 870 pounds to a 970-pound total," said Brandon Whitehead. "I had done qualified so it really didn't matter, but I was shooting for 100 pounds total. I'm happy with what I got."
  The former Happy Valley high student believes in dedicating yourself and a good work ethic for any young person who doubts his or her abilities.
  "I recommend this for any young person whether you're an athlete or not, because it's something you can do and not be bad at it," said Brandon Whitehead. "If you have the determination and heart, then anybody can do this, which makes you feel better about yourself with others respecting you."
  Lance Whitehead is a guy who has overcome obstacles in his teenage years after having his back broke a couple of years ago.
  "I had a back brace on for about three months after my junior year from a football injury, and when the doctors cleared me I just took off and started lifting," said Lance Whitehead. "I probably have a stronger than most people do now."
  Lance had a squat of 370 pounds in the most recent competition, and a bench of 255 pounds.
  "The squat is a new max, and eventually helped me qualify for the nationals, so I was pretty happy with it," said Lance Whitehead.
  Even though Lance wasn't able to match his personal best in the dead-lift (400 pounds), he did accomplish a lift of 390, which was good enough to help qualify him.
  At the nationals I had to do 390 pounds just to qualify, and I was able to do that," said Lance Whitehead. "I'm not only satisfied with what I did, but also with my brother, Laura, and Coach Campbell and I can't wait to do it again."
  The two Whitehead brothers are a prime example that you don't have to be big to pack a strong punch.
  "You look at us and we're not as big as some of the freshmen on the football team," said Lance Whitehead. "Anybody can get in the weight room and be successful out on the football field and in life. You go out and do something successful that you love to do, and it's something good no matter how big you are."
  The other qualifier is a Happy Valley high school student Laura Letterman.
  A junior, Laura has gritted out the hard work and determination, as she has seen her fellow female competitors drop by the wayside.
  "A lot of the girls quit because they couldn't take it, and I'm the only one who stuck with it," said Letterman. "Everybody likes to call me Hercules now, but I don't know why because I'm not that big."
  Laura made a dead-lift of 210 pound, a squat of 185 pound, and a bench of 70 pounds.
  "My benching was off because I messed up the first time, but my total was 465 pounds, which qualified me by being over 60 pounds or more," said Letterman.
  This was Laura's first major event to qualify in, but she did take the first-place honors at Hampton High school earlier this year.
  What she has accomplished so far has come with less than a year's work of training.
  "I've been working out for nine months now and started when I was 15, and I love it," said Letterman.
  "It's been real hard preparing, but once you do it then you know something good is going to come from it," said Letterman. "I'm just going to try in continuing working hard and get better at it for the next competition."
  Coach Campbell is very happy with what all three of these of the competitors and what they've done as far as work ethic and dedication.
  "I'm very proud of them because they work hard and are here every day," Campbell said. "I'm real proud of Laura too, because this is something girls don't do, but is excellent for them.
  "She's the only girl, but she doesn't let that stop her. They're all a great group to work with."