CARO — The best weightlifters come in all shapes and sizes.
And the various faces of the sport will be on display Saturday in Caro when Mission 1 – CrossFit Caro, 1900 W. Caro Road in Caro, hosts the Mid-Michigan Open, which will feature dozens of competitive lifters.
“I don’t think there’s been a weightlifting meet in the Thumb, ever,” said Joe Stewart, Mission 1 owner and event organizer. “That’s cool in itself. Plus we’ll probably have about 200 people coming into our community, some of them for the first time and the only time.”
The meet will play host to male and female lifters in two different division — youth (16-and-under) and senior (17-and-over). The competitors will be placed in divisions based on their weight.
The Mission 1 Barbell Club, a new weightlifting team sponsored by Mission 1 – CrossFit Caro, has seven members competing at the meet. Stewart expects to host lifters of all ages an sizes at the meet.
“I want to introduce our community to a great sports for youths, and adults, and just get people in here,” Stewart said. “We have such a great community here at Mission 1 and I want people to see how great lifting is as a youth-development sport, or as an accessary for other sports in the offseason.”
The Mid-Michigan Open will feature Olympic-style competition, a style different from powerlifting — which is becoming a popular high school club sport in the area. There are two lifts involved — snatch and clean and jerk.
Stewart says Olympic-style lifting takes a little more athleticism than its counterpart. Of course, you still have to be strong.
“I’ve always loved to lift weights, I got into CrossFit and through CrossFit I was introduced to Olympic weightlifting,” Stewart said. “And there’s just so much athleticism and skill involved, it’s kind of like gymnastics with a barbell. You have to be really strong, but you have to be athletic too.
“It really is kind of like an art.”
Stewart began the Mission 1 Barbell Club in November. In June, he took two promising competitors to Austin, Texas for the National Youth Championships. At that time, there were about 12-15 members of the club, but just two — Miah Luth and Lillian Stewart — interested in competition. That number has since grown.
“It was really just a way to get kids in here to do some training during their offseason,” Stewart said. “Miah and Lillian were really good at it, so I started looking up qualifying totals, figuring they were good enough to go to nationals. So we did it. It was just an amazing experience and when we came back we just all had that fire.”
Luth, a Reese High School junior, and Stewart, a seventh-grader at Caro Middle School (and Joe’s daughter) will both be competing at the Mid-Michigan Open. In addition, five other members of the Mission 1 Barbell Club will be participating in their first weightlifting competition.
Caro High School senior Mason Campbell is the only boy competing for Mission 1 Saturday. The 17-year-old Caro baseball player will be lifting in the senior division. The remaining four Mission 1 CrossFit members scheduled to compete are: Emma Stewart, Lillian’s sister, Joe’s daughter and a sixth-grader at Caro Middle School; Hallie Maurer, a sophomore at Millington who also power lifts for the Cardinals’ club team and played on the school’s state-semifinal softball team in the spring; and Jade Hollingsworth and Taylor Thompson, who are both in eighth grade at Caro Middle School.
The first session of lifting is slated to begin with the girls’ youth competition at 10 a.m. Saturday, Stewart said. He expects the males to begin competing in the early afternoon, and the meet to be over around 5 or 6 p.m.
Stewart said there are about 30 weightlifting clubs in Michigan, of which 14 will be represented Saturday. And there will be some big names in attendance.
Among the competitors scheduled to appear are: Matt McCarty, who holds the 105 kilogram junior and senior Michigan records and will soon compete at University Nationals in hopes of earning a spot on the University World Team; Kelly Charniga, who represented Team USA as in alternate at the 2014 Senior World Championship in Kazakhstan; and Elijah Moussiaux, Irie Moussiaux, Bella Moussaiux, Molly Ratliff and Hannah Hopkins, who all hold Michigan youth lifting records. Luth, too, holds the Michigan record for her weight (53kg) and age.
The biggest name at the Mid-Michigan Open may be Fred Lowe, who will call cards (announce) at the event. Lowe, 69 of DeWitt, was a weightlifter for the U.S. Team in the 1964, 68 and 72 Olympic Games.
Mission 1 – CrossFit Caro will add about 60 seats for the meet, and will have a designated practice area and recovery area. There is no cost for spectators. The top three finishers in each division will receive a medal, and there will be an award for the best male and female lifter in both the youth and senior divisions.
Stewart is an avid lifter, but will not be competing in the event that he has worked to bring to fruition.
“I’m gonna just make sure that everything runs smoothly,” he said. “We have lifters coming in from all over the state, so I want to make sure when they get here they don’t have anything to worry about.”