FRANKLIN FURNACE, Ohio — Hailey Hammond's story is uplifting — literally.

It's also astonishing to anyone who knows power lifting. The recent graduate of Green High School obliterated every record in her weight class, despite being a rookie with less than one year of lifting experience.

Hammond dominated the female 135-pound weight class. She set a record in the deadlift, hoisting 335 pounds to break by 20 pounds the mark set in 2002. Her bench press of 155 pounds topped the record of 145 set in 2009. Hammond's 855 pounds total weight lifted bettered the mark of 735 pounds set in 2004.

In her most challenging lift, the squat, Hammond boosted 365 pounds, 15 more than the record set in 2011.

"The squat is my favorite," said Hammond, 18, who plans to major in biomedical sciences at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. "In the beginning it was kind of hard, but it's the lift in which I've come the furthest."

Hammond struggled mightily in the squat early in her lifting career. She wrote "350" on a whiteboard in the gym in which she trains as motivation.

"I stared at that number day after day," Hammond said. "I was so frustrated that I couldn't get it. I mean, it was physically hurting me to squat and I had started with 135 pounds. I did that over and over trying to figure it out, trying to figure out what I was doing wrong."

Then one day Hammond lowered the position of the bar down her back a bit.

"Then it clicked," Hammond said.

She raised the amount of weight on the bar and quickly reached 350.

Hammond is more than a weightlifter. She also plays guitar, enjoys swimming, hunting, music and church at New Life Family Worship Center in New Boston, Ohio. Family and friends are important to her. While she said she might enter some lifting meets, she doesn't plan to make elevating iron more than the occasional venture, as she sees the sport as "something to do."

Still, Hammond said he enjoys seeing people's expressions when they discover she is relatively new to the sport.

"Their mouths drop open," Hammond said, with a laugh. "I tell them, though, that I've put in hundreds and hundreds of hours into this. I love the sport and I love that it's something you have to do on your own. There is no team to help you. Everything you put into it is what you'll get out of it. Everything I've accomplished started in the gym. Somebody can't do it for you. It's not easy to get up and go to the gym every day, so you have to be self-motivated."

Hammond, who also played softball for the Bobcats, has benefited form coaching, however, as her cousin and personal trainer Austin Gifford has guided her. Hammond said she is thankful for Gifford's help.

"He saw potential in me," said Hammond, who was 110 pounds when she started lifting. "I trained with him eight months before I started competing. He makes sure I'm OK. If he doesn't see me, he calls me every day to see how I'm doing."

After breaking state records, Hammond said she had one regret.

"I should have put more weight on the bars," Hammond said.


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