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Greenwood senior’s college plans get lift

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Accomplishments in the Greenwood Community High School weight room tend to be measured in pounds and repetitions.

No telling where Lindsey Raker would rank if hours were the gauge.

The weight room is where the senior, a competitive powerlifter, pushes — and sometimes even punishes — herself for four hours a day in pursuit of self-improvement.

“A lot of people don’t understand it’s not a one-year thing,” Raker said. “There is not a day off. Holidays I take off, and I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel right to me.

“The weight room is home.”

So well thought of is this 5-foot-1, 148-pound dynamo as a powerlifter that she’s accepted an athletics scholarship to McKendree University, an NCAA Division II school in Lebanon, Ill.

The university announced in January it would make powerlifting its 26th varsity sport beginning the 2014-15 school year.

Earning the right to be part of a collegiate program’s ground floor required years of dedication on Raker’s behalf — work she’s been more than happy to put in since becoming interested in lifting five years ago.

“To be honest, my dad’s a football coach here, and I started lifting to stay in shape,” Raker said. “I was doing well and started passing kids. It wasn’t something I wanted to do just once a day.”

This explains Raker’s repeated walks to and from the weight room five days a week.

She’s a teacher’s assistant for Greenwood strength and conditioning coach Brian Smiley during fourth period and takes Smiley’s Advanced Physical Conditioning class during sixth period.

Raker trains both hours, as well as after school for one to two hours.

Mondays and Thursdays are dedicated to upper-body workouts, Tuesdays and Fridays to the lower body. Wednesday is devoted to cardio, while weekends at home center around stretching and additional cardio.

Powerlifting competitions are broken into three lifts: bench press, squat and deadlift.

Raker, who started working out three times a day as a sophomore, trains in nine-week cycles. The cycle she’s immersed in now won’t be completed until the end of May.

Between now and then, Raker will attempt to increase her top bench press of 170 pounds to her goal of 180. Same holds true in the squat (300 to 330) and deadlift (305 to 320).

In terms of competitions, she doesn’t plan to take part in any this spring or summer.

In August, Raker, who maintains a 3.2 grade-point average and plans to major in nursing, reports to McKendree, located 25 miles east of St. Louis.

A member of the Woodmen softball program the past three seasons, Raker won’t play this season due to her powerlifting training.

In what might be the ultimate juxtaposition, Raker has been a Greenwood varsity cheerleader the past three football and basketball seasons.

“Cheerleading is kind of where I can relax, have fun and still be on a team,” she said. “I definitely put on two different sides. In the weight room, I have a loud personality, but when I cheer I’m more of a quiet leader.”

Though she makes it a point to thoroughly enjoy workouts with her sister, Nataley, the Woodmen’s junior catcher in softball, and sophomore basketball standout Holly Hoopingarner, Raker is all business.

“I have seen that from a male’s perspective, but not from a female,” said Smiley, who also is Greenwood’s assistant athletics director. “There’s something special about Lindsey. She lives it, breathes it and studies it. There are so many ways to do the sport and train for the sport. Constantly changing, constantly evolving.

“When Lindsey trains it’s like there’s nobody else in the room. It is pure focus, like, ‘I’m in here to get better, and no one is going to slow me down.’ The other kids, they just kind of stay away from her because they know it matters to her.”

Smiley continued, “Outside of the weight room, Lindsey is caring. She would do anything for anybody and comes from a tremendous family. But she can flip a switch.”

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