By ASHLYN KOONCE
Fort Knox High School
After many hours of practice, the Fort Knox High School powerlifting team will make an 11 hour drive to Oklahoma City April 5 in order to participate in the Natural Athlete Strength Association National Championship.
Thirteen members of Fort Knox High School will be participating in Unequipped, power sports and power press events. In the unequipped event, each student must participate in the squat, bench and dead lift division. In power sports, they must participate in power clean, bench, curl and dead lift. Finally, each student has to power clean and bench in the power press event.
Jayci Gomes, Kariel Hernandez Fabiola Martinez, Gianna Darnell, Mollie Knight, Haley Fluharty, Queen-Ayanna Sullivan, Navi Valdez, Ashlee Kohler, Christina Rice, and De’My’Ja Holmes are among the hundreds of students attending NASA. Adam Kiphuth and Vano Valdez will attend NASA and represent the boys’ powerlifting team from Fort Knox High School.
After three years of powerlifting, senior De’My’Ja Holmes has bittersweet feelings about attending NASA. “This is my last year, and it is hard knowing that I won’t be here with my team, but I am confident that Haley Fluharty and Christina Rice will lead the team in the right direction when I graduate.” Holmes has ranked No. 1 in the nation in unequipped and power sports and has won her weight class division the past two years in a row. Along with these accomplishments she has won “Best Female Powerlifter” at every meet and has won state overall. At NASA, Holmes hopes to continue her success.
Holmes stated that she enjoys watching her teammates claim their trophies but most importantly “enjoys seeing the smiles on their faces. Every girl on our team has a chance to break an American record.”
Among the girls, Holmes has high hopes for freshman Fabiola Martinez. Even though this is Martinez’s first year as a powerlifter, Holmes knows that “with more training and time, she will be better than I could have ever been.” Martinez stated that she wants to reach the 225 dead lift in her weight class.
Along with Holmes, Haley Fluharty has multiple goals she hopes to achieve at NASA. She stated that she “hopes to set a world record for most total weight lifted in my weight class.”
This is Fluharty’s second year as a power lifter and she has already received the title as a national champion last year and a state champion this year.
“We couldn’t have done any of this without the help of coach Conrad Garcia. He brought us together as a team but, in the end, made us a family,” Fluharty said.
Garcia has been a powerlifting coach for 16 years and expects the girls to win five out of five events at the championship.
Helping Garcia push the girls to their fullest potential this year is coach Michael Newport and wife, Misty. Even though it is their first year coaching, the Newports are real assets to the team’s success.
“They push the girls more than I ever could,” proclaimed Garcia. The coach expects to have many national champions and world champions from the girls and stated that “these girls will do great things and will come back as champions.”