REGION – Cheers filled the Las Vegas Convention Center as five girls from Westborough and two from Northborough competed at this year’s USA Weightlifting Youth Nationals competition in Las Vegas from June 25 through July 3.
Westborough’s Mayeesha Ghani, Nora Paoloni, Emily Paoloni, Penelope Desjardins and Rylie Rohloff and Northborough’s Ella Gamache and Adrienne Li competed there as part of Prototype Barbell Club. They practice at Westborough’s Prototype Training Systems and are coached by Joe Black and Olivia Sassetti.
In Las Vegas, the group made an impression. Nora earned a silver medal in her competition and Gamache finished sixth overall.
“There was a guy in front of us with earplugs because we were really loud,” Li said.
Weightlifting focuses on contests of two types of lifts.
The first is the snatch, where weightlifters lift the barbell from the ground to an overhead position in a single motion. The second is the clean and jerk, where they lift the barbell from the ground first to a position across the shoulders, and then in a second motion to an overhead position. The group was scored based on a combination of both lifts.
The girls first had to qualify for youth nationals. Some qualified in person, while others filmed their lifts and submitted them online.
The girls found the weightlifting community at the event very supportive.
Black said Gamache’s performance represented a huge improvement over the previous year.
Nora just barely missed out on a gold medal due to a dispute over whether she had completed a lift in one motion.
“She made the lift, but the judges said she didn’t make the lift,” Black said.
Black said the other girls all performed very well. He said Desjardins added six kilograms to her total from her previous meet, and Ghani added five.
He said that Li’s performance was probably the gutsiest of the group, finishing with a 92 kilogram total.
“She missed her first two snatches, and nobody wants to be in that situation,” Black said. “Then she came out and made her third, so that helped her stay in the competition.”
The girls decided to get involved with weightlifting for different reasons. Some of their parents use the same gym and heard about the club through it, while Li was inspired to join because Gamache was in it.
Gamache said that joining the club has helped her gain confidence in competing and trust in herself. Li said that it has helped her with anxiety, and Desjardins said it helped her become more comfortable with working out in front of other people.
Ghani said weightlifting has been rewarding in developing strength, which she has always wanted.
“There’s no other way of putting it than just simply wanting to be strong and powerful,” she said.