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South High senior has Olympic dreams

November 03, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Jenna Bussard has plans to carry the world on her shoulders.

The South Hagerstown High School senior, just back from a world championship weight-lifting competition in Puerto Rico, said her next goal is to compete in the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

The 17-year old won three gold medals and three silver medals at the Criollo Cup two weeks ago in Puerto Rico.

Bussard, who competed in the junior, 165 pounds-plus division and in the open division, lifted a total of 412.5 pounds. The total weight was spread between the snatch competition, which judged her on holding a weighted Olympic-style barbell overhead with both hands, and the clean and jerk, which judged her on how well she brought the barbell to her chest and then pushed the weight upward.

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Her final weightlifting score, after three attempts in each category, was 176 pounds in the snatch competition and 236.5 pounds in the clean-and-jerk competition.

Bussard said her closest competition in the junior division was a member of Team USA.

"I've been told I could go to the Olympics, so that's my goal," she said.

Bussard started weightlifting in eighth grade. Living in South Carolina at the time, she had her eyes on joining the middle and high school football teams, but her father told her she couldn't play unless she started lifting weights to get stronger. Bussard started lifting weights and was able to play football through her 10th-grade year.

But she became more interested in weightlifting. After a lifting coach advised her to quit football, she did.

"If I could go back and do it, I'd still do it," she said. "Football runs in the family, not in the girl's side, but you know."

The former football guard and center said she really picked up the weightlifting pace in 10th grade. She worked as the watergirl for the school's football team while lifting weights six days a week, two hours at a time.

In 11th grade, she switched to Olympic lifting from power lifting, which is more geared toward squatting, bench pressing and deadlifting.

Now that she's back in Hagerstown, where she lived for the first few years of her life, Bussard has been training at a gym in Frederick, Md., which offers the types of weights she needs to practice Olympic lifting.

"In Olympic style, it's not how much can you do, it's how good is your technique," she said.

Bussard said she has plans to attend Hagerstown Community College and then transfer to a college in Georgia, which is near the training facility for one of the country's best weightlifting teams, Team Savannah.

She plans to study early childhood education and criminal justice. Bussard said she wants to teach, but also would like to work for the Humane Society.

Jeff Shank, weightlifting teacher at South High, said Bussard is respected by her peers for her knowledge about weightlifting.

"She's set three lifting records I would imagine will never get broken," he said.

Three record signs in the South High weight room have her name on them: Female dead lift at 335 pounds, female bench at 245 pounds and female squat at 425 pounds.

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