High school powerlifter continues national title chase

Thursday, October 23, 2003

Powerlifting may not sound like something that traditionally would interest a teenage girl, but it seems to suit Lindsay Pledger just fine.

Pledger, a senior at Central, discovered an attraction to the sport when she was 12 after watching her father and sister participate in national competitions. And now, at 18, the 5-foot-4, 165-pound powerlifter has been around the country winning several competitions.

But earning trophies isn't the only delight Pledger gets from powerlifting. Her dad, Jerry, serves as her personal coach and assists her every day, whether in the gym or at a meet.

"It's awesome because I never feel pressure from him," she said. "He's just always there to tell me that I can do it. A lot of people don't get that privilege, and it's great to have that bond."

Jerry has placed second in a national event and has won 17 straight state championships as part of the Universal Health and Fitness team.

Lindsay, following in the household tradition, has won national titles in meets as far away as Texas and Indiana. She also has won many local contests.

Regardless of any pressure to live up to her family's accomplishments, Pledger doesn't stress about her meets.

"I'm so zoned in that I don't think of anything but lifting and the judges," she said. "At first I feel nervous, but that goes away after my first lift."

Pledger said her best event is the deadlift, in which she accomplished a personal-best 314 pounds on her way to winning the teenage division national title and the women's Best Lifter title at the USA Powerlifting Deadlift Nationals in St. Louis earlier this month.

She practices three to four times a week squatting, bench-pressing and deadlifting. Jerry changes the workout routine every three weeks.

Although the sport keeps her in shape, Lindsay finds other reasons to enjoy her involvement in lifting.

"I'm good at it, and usually you do stuff that you're good at," she said. "It's a personal booster, a motivational tool for me."

Her peers -- many of whom don't know much about the sport -- find it interesting.

"My friends think it's pretty cool, and some of the guys are intimidated by me," she joked.

Pledger said she isn't sure if she wants to follow her powerlifting interest into the future or if it's just a passing phase, but whatever the case, she wants to follow her father and win a few more titles.

"I know if I work really hard I can get there,"she said, "and I can get above 314 on the deadlift. It's all just a matter of working out. A world championship is my next step."

Jerry isn't the only relative who has succeeded significantly in powerlifting. Lindsay's sister Sabrina has won three national championships, while two of her uncles were world master champions.

Lindsay's next competition is Nov. 15 at the Universal Health and Fitness Center in Cape Girardeau.

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