Weightlifting students from OCU competed in the Sooner State Open Olympic-style weightlifting competition and some brought home awards.
Nick Shironaka, English junior, was awarded Best Overall Male Lifter.
“I had meniscus surgery in July, so I haven’t been able to attend any competitions, but now that my knee has been healing up and everything, it was a fun little meet to go and get back out on the platform and throw some weights around and see what happens,” Shironaka said. “It was a real confidence booster to go back out there and do that at the competition.”
Shironaka is the first scholarship athlete for the weightlifting team.
“They were just able to get funding for the scholarship not too long ago, and I was the first to be offered. Right now, OCU doesn’t have enough lifters to go to nationals as a team, so it’s individual, but I’d like to be able to spread awareness and hopefully grow the team and get more athletes to come here to do weightlifting,” he said.
Before attending OCU, Shironaka lifted and self-coached for about a year and a half. He didn’t turn to Olympic style weightlifting until the fall of his freshman year of college, he said.
As for his weightlifting goals, Shironaka said he has big plans.
“Personally, I’d like to be a national champion someday,” he said.
Emily Gray, nursing senior, started weightlifting through the weightlifting class that began in August and eventually began to weightlift every day.
“I really enjoy the challenge that it is, because it’s not just a physical challenge, it’s a mental challenge. I hate cardio so much. A lot of weight lifting is in your head, it’s believing you can lift it. If you tell yourself there’s no way you can do it, there’s no way you can do it,” Gray said.
Gray said the mental challenge was overcoming the insecurity of whether or not she could actually do it.
“It’s definitely a confidence booster. It brings up your confidence and you think, yeah I can do this, yeah I am strong,” Gray said.
Gray said she credits Weightlifting Instructor Dr. Miller for helping her fall in love with the sport.
“Dr. Miller is such a good coach. CrossFit is so hard on your body. Weightlifting isn’t about doing everything so fast and throwing weights around with bad form. He teaches you the correct form and how to lift safely,” she said.
Gray said she thinks every nursing student should take weightlifting.
“You’re lifting patients all the time, and a lot of nurses get injuries in their back or knees because of the way they lift. It’s helpful to learn how to use your hips and leverage yourself to pick up patients,” she said.
The Sooner State Open Olympic-style weightlifting competition was the first competition Gray has attended, but she said she is excited for more.
“Two weeks ago was my first meet, and now I’m addicted,” she said.
Kylie Burris, exercise science freshman, said she also had a positive experience at the meet. Burris transitioned from being a runner to a weightlifter in January and just recently began Olympic-style weightlifting.
“It was a really good first time experience,” Burris said.
Burris placed second in the junior division at the meet.
“It’s honestly really fun, and the people I lift with are an amazing group of people,” she said. “Nobody has anything negative to say about lifting. You could lift no weight at all, and someone would have something nice to say about it.”