By DAVID GREEN
Morenci power-lifter Taylor Baugh had never missed a dead-lift attempt in all her years of competing, but that's exactly how the final event in her state champion quest began last weekend in Traverse City.
The squat and bench events left her—the defending state champ—in fourth place in the women's 105-pound division at the Michigan High School Powerlifting Association finals, but she knew her speciality, the dead-lift, was yet to come. That's why it hurt so bad to scratch on her first attempt—a lift of 225 pounds that would have pushed her into the lead. She had the bar halfway up when it slipped out of her hand.
“The bar was a larger diameter than what she’s used to, making it hard for her to get her hands around it,” explained coach Dan Hoffman.
Baugh said she was furious and stormed out of the gymnasium crying.
“I thought it was over,” she said. With a bar too big and slippery, she was lost.
Baugh’s aunt was engaged in a pep talk when Coach Hoffman found her.
“I’m yelling at him and he’s yelling at me,” she said. What he wanted was for her to pull together and think about how to overcome the problem.
Baugh had to alter her hand grip—in the middle of the final competition of her high school career—and she practiced the adjustment with a lighter weight.
“I went for 240 pounds on my second attempt and whipped it up because I was so mad,” Baugh said.
That put her on top of the field by five pounds until one of her chief rivals matched that lift to take a 15-pound lead.
There was only one way to repeat as state champion. She would have to lift 15 pounds more than her state dead-lift record—15 pounds more than she had ever achieved in the past.
Hoffman didn’t like the odds. The extra weight, the larger bar, the new hand grip. It certainly wouldn’t be a sure thing.
Two-hundred and sixty pounds were loaded on the bar and Baugh chalked her hands really well to help with the grip.
She moved into position and noticed the huge crowd of people circling her. Her platform was the only one still competing and everyone had gathered for the show.
“I got mad and yelled and pulled the bar up close to my legs,” she said. “I got louder as I pulled and the gym was filled with chanting.”
It was a good lift. The crowd erupted in cheers and Baugh kept her title, tying the state record at 510 total pounds.
She was soon in tears again, but this time with a big smile.
Baugh said it all hit home the next morning when she thought back on all the hard work that paid off with a pair of state titles.
She says Morenci’s small but powerful team comes from a small town with big hearts and a lot of determination.
GLECKLER—Sophomore Madi Gleckler gave a solid performance in the 105 weight class.
“She was good on eight of nine attempts, with a personal record on the squat and dead lift,” Coach Hoffman said.
She lifted 140 and 220 on those events, then added a 90-pound bench press for a 450 total and fourth-place finish.
LOCKWOOD—Makiha Lockwood got off to a great start, but her day soon turned sour.
The junior opened with a squat at 260 pounds to tie the state record, then set a new record of 270. However, the lift was ruled no good by two of the three judges. Coach Hoffman thought it looked good and he says he’s tough on meeting the guidelines. Her third attempt was a repeat of the second.
“From there on things went badly when she failed on three consecutive attempts in the bench press,” Hoffman said. “This disqualified her from the competition.”
It was a tough way to lose, he said, especially knowing that Lockwood is “hands down the best 181 in the state.”
“The girl who ended up winning had lost twice to Makiha this season,” he said.
HOFFMAN—Sophomore Malachi Hoffman competed in the 155 junior varsity class and earned fifth place. Hoffman was good on two squats and posted a 280. On the bench he went three for three and scored 220. He was also three for three on the dead lift to finish with a personal best 370 and a total of 870 pounds.
ELARTON—Freshman JJ Elarton competed in the junior varsity 181 class in his first state meet. He was good on two of three tries for each lift, squatting 245, benching 200, and dead lifting a personal best 380.
“His final dead lift attempt was 400 which would have put him in place for a medal,” Hoffman said, “but it was just a bit too much.”
FELTZ—Sophomore Shawn Feltz entered the state competition for the first time, lifting in the junior varsity 242 class.
“He was perfect in going nine for nine on the day,” Hoffman said. “He hit personal bests in both the squat and the dead-lift at 340 and 380. He benched 225 giving him a 945 total and a ninth place medal.”
Former Morenci student Chris Hinkley was a state champion in the 132 junior varsity class.