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Weightlifting: Maegan Snodgrass powers through tough times

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(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Maegan Snodgrass, of Salt Lake City, practices the snatch before competing in the USA Weightlifting National Championships at The Grand America Hotel Thursday July 17, 2014.

By Tierra Smith

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Jul 17 2014 10:16PM
Updated Jul 18, 2014 10:53AM

The fourth-graders in Maegan Snodgrass’ class at Pioneer Elementary School know not to get out of line with her.

If they do, she could powerlift a few over her head to scare them straight.

Snodgrass is an experienced weightlifter and one of the best in Utah. The 22-year-old concedes that balancing those two extremely stressful environments has been tough, but she says the support of her students, her family and her team have helped.

The 2014 USA Weightlifting National Championships run Friday through Sunday in the Grand America Hotel’s Grand Ballroom Lobby, and Snodgrass will be one of 400 athletes competing — representing the largest national championship ever.

"I am going to have the day of my life," Snodgrass said.

Snodgrass has a score to settle from the previous nationals.

The South Jordan native was ranked No. 1 in her division and favored to win last year. But when it was time to compete, she couldn’t get the bar over her head. After failing to complete three attempted lifts, she was disqualified and went home feeling confused.

"I don’t know what happened, because I hit the weight at practice," said Snodgrass, who was the only Utah participant. "I was hoping to win. If I would have just made the lift, I could have made it to the podium."

Following the American Open Championship this past December, Snodgrass took a three-month hiatus. Snodgrass has been a competitive gymnast since she was 8, and a competitive weightlifter since she was 10. And so she felt a little burned out.

For many years, she actually just used the weightlifting as a way to train for gymnastics. Her parents were a little hesitant about her taking it up, but it provided great value.

"They worried I was too young to start that kind of heaving lifting, but my coach said the lifts would help improve balance and core stability," she said.

Her career in gymnastics picked up and she received a full-ride scholarship to Utah State. She was also able to travel the world competing on USA Junior Pan Am Weightlifting Team.

Now, Snodgrass says the three-month break was everything she needed. When she returned to the gym, the goal wasn’t to be the best or join a World Team, because she accomplished all of that before.

"I wasn’t constantly thinking of the numbers I had to hit, but the numbers I wanted to hit," she said, who holds 31 Utah state records in Olympic weightlifting and has been ranked top five in the country in her division for 5 years.

Specifically, she hopes to improve upon her personal best of 96 kilograms (211 pounds) in snatch and 110 kilograms (242 pounds) in clean and jerk.

Nationals will be her second meet this year, after she competed in the State Meet at Club Velocity in May and placed first. She has worked out five days a week for more than two hours a day since February to get ready for Nationals.

"Maegan’s level of training and her continued accomplishments are an inspiration to the other lifters on our team," said her coach, Mike Carroll. "They all recognize the determination it takes to train at her level."

Now, Sunday could be her day of vengeance.

Her lift is scheduled for 1 p.m. , and her parents will be in attendance for support.

As the tears formed in his eyes, Corey Snodgrass reflected on how sports have changed his daughter’s life.

"Sports give you that discipline and drive to succeed," said her father. He added that she is extremely dedicated and hardworking and loves to win.

Snodgrass applies this same philosophy in everything she does, whether that was sports, her education and now teaching. And to show for it, she has countless medals, trophies and awards, but standing on the podium this time will feel different.

tsmith@sltrib.com

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