State champ Brooks brings gold to Clay lifting

By Randy Lefko Sports Editor
Posted 12/16/20

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - During their senior season of weightlifting, Clay High graduates Lindsey Brooks and Kailah McKean have once again combined talents to bring their lifting expertise back to the …

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State champ Brooks brings gold to Clay lifting

Posted

GREEN COVE SPRINGS - During their senior season of weightlifting, Clay High graduates Lindsey Brooks and Kailah McKean have once again combined talents to bring their lifting expertise back to the Blue Devils’ room of Iron.

“She’s always been my sidekick, even when we were on the team as athletes,” said Brooks, who won the Class 1A title at 199 pounds while McKean took fourth in the Class 1A Unlimited Division last year. “Now, we are together again as coaches helping coach Keller (Clay coach Rodney Keller). It’s nice to watch the action without actually having to lift.”

For Clay lifting coach Rodney Keller, the return of the past champions and even any past Clay lifter, is a welcomed addition to the eyes in the training camp especially with a bevy of state powerhouses attending a Suwannee High Invitational on Friday.

“Most of the girls that have been successful here have been with the program and tradition for three to four years,” said Keller, who noted that Friday at Suwannee High School is the last powerhouse meet for area lifters before the Christmas break and the upcoming state meet climb. “What they bring to the room is tremendous expertise as well as the proverbial “street cred” of what if feels like to be in those tense situations.”

Third in 2019, Brooks, who dominated her weight class with a district and region title last year, was able to put her name at the top of the championship list last year with her 20 pound gap served up on bench press. McKean was also a district and region champion.

“I went for a big lead just to put the pressure of winning the title on the clean and jerk,” said Brooks, who was top bench press last yer with her 185 pounds 20 pounds higher than a handful of 165 pounders below her. “I try to bring the mental attitude to the girls now because I’ve been there and I’ve had coach Keller teach me how to win the mental game.”

Brooks would give away 15 pounds on the clean and jerk, but the five pound differential was enough to win the title.

“This sports is a lot of mental toughness,” said Brooks. “The Clay girls have had the attitude mainly because we have the history with the champions from the past.”

Keller says the only thing that keeps the girls away for a while is their own school and training.

“Most times, it is them at school that restricts them from coming back here, but anytime they want to drop in and get a lift and maybe talk to the girls is welcomed by me,” said Keller. “They all know the level of expectation and if they want to come back and help, it’s a no-brainer. They understand what the training looks like and what is expected. I can’t express my appreciation of the Bergers, the Brooks, the McKeans and the Nulls who come back and lend a hand. You can never have too many eyes on the floor. They see things and we talk and we address the needs of the team.”

For McKean, the road to the podium last year was going to have to go through state record holder Mahailya Reeves of Union County who was blowing up her competition with the likes of 375 pounds on the bench press to keep opposing lifters flabbergasted. Reeves was advancing through region 4-1A with Clay competing in region 5-1A.

“That’s the mental part,” said Brooks. “The Union County girl was just great on the bench press and we watched her just make her competition roll their eyes.”

McKean finished fourth with a 425 total with Reeves hoisting a combined 600 for the gold. McKean improved from a 13th place finish in 2019 at 355 total.

“Being able to have her here with me is nice because we pushed each other last year,” said Brooks. “Now, we are thinking about the team and what they need to succeed. It’s really good to watch the progress.”

Keller noted that there are now three classes of competition in girls weightlifting with Clay moving up to Class 2A.

“Girls weightlifting is blowing up statewide,” said Keller. “This meet will tell us where we really are.”

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