Strength in numbers: Franklin girls shine on national lifting stage

Franklin Community High School strength and conditioning coach Jeremy Hartman was proud to take three of his female athletes to the International Powerlifting World Women’s Classic Championships.

“We were the only gym in the United States to have three lifters in their age group to come from the same gym,” Hartman said. “Usually, lifters are spread out over the country make the World team.”

Once at the World Championships at Killeen, Texas, in June, the trio — Jennica Baldridge, Shelby Miles and Kloie Doublin — all excelled in the Sub Junior (18 and under) division.

Baldridge (138 pounds) and Miles (158) earned silver medals in the overall competition for finishing second in their respective weight classes. Doublin was fourth in the 158-pound class.

There were more than 50 countries represented at the invitation-only competition where nearly 800 powerlifters competed in the squat, bench-press and dead-lift events.

Gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded to the top three lifters in each event; overall medals were awarded to the top three lifters with the highest combined total for all three events.

“As a coach I couldn’t be happier or more proud,” said Hartman, who is starting his sixth year as the Grizzly Cubs’ strength coach. “My girls train six days a week with me Monday through Saturday. They never miss.

“If there is a schedule conflict, they’ll come in at a different time. They are a coach’s dream to be around because they’ve completely bought in.”

Baldridge and Miles won the Sub Junior weight classes in the USA Powerlifting Raw Nationals in Scranton, Pa., in October 2015 to qualify for the World Championships. Doublin placed third in the national meet but was the No. 1 alternate in the 158-pound class and got the World invitation when another competitor dropped out about five weeks before the meet.

Doublin got the invitation while in math class near the end of the school year.

“I freaked out. I ran to the restroom and called my dad,” she said. “It was my first year competing in powerlifting, so it was really cool that happened like it did.”

Doublin earned bronze medals in the bench press and dead lift to contribute to her fourth-place overall, three kilograms away from a third-place finish.

“I weighed in at 147,” Doublin said. “We were trying to put on weight for me. I gained it and dropped it right back off because of nerves.”

Doublin, a junior, competes in track and field. She also dances year-round and was a sectional champion in the 100-meters, long jump and as a member of 1,600 relay team this past spring.

Hartman said Baldridge had an amazing comeback to finish second overall in World Championships. She was fourth in the squat and bench-press.

“Then in one of the most dramatic comebacks of the entire meet, she was fourth place in the all-around going into the dead lift. She put on what she needed to make the world record in her age and weight class, and in her very last lift of the meet she got the world record (347.2 pounds) and the gold,” Hartman said.

“That bumped her up from fourth to second overall.”

Baldridge’s previous best lift was 330 pounds.

“So that was a big PR (personal record) for me,” said Baldridge, who weighed 136 pounds at the meet.

Baldridge, a senior, started lifting because she played volleyball as a freshman. But since her sophomore year she has decided to concentrate on powerlifting.

“I like powerlifting because it’s more of a personal thing,” said Baldridge, who has been competing for about two-and-a-half years. “I like the dedication and working hard. I like competing because of all the adrenaline to see how you compare to others.

“One thing I like about it is I can keep going in this no matter where I go to college.”

Miles, who graduated this spring, originally started weight-lifting for tennis and volleyball. She played tennis for four years and volleyball her first two years in high school.

“I took it as a class because I had to,” Miles said. “After a year I did it after school to stay in shape. Then realized I really liked it and started competing and kept going from there,” Miles said. “It became something that I didn’t know I would love, but ended up loving.”

Miles won the gold medal in the dead lift, lifting 380 pounds. She earned silver medals in the squat and bench press.

“My goal was to medal in all three events and get the highest total possible,” Miles said. “Achieving that was pretty exciting for me.”

Miles, who earned a gold medal in her division in the World Bench Press Championships in Denmark in April, plans to join Indiana University’s club powerlifting team this fall.

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Mark Ambrogi is a sports correspondent for the Daily Journal.