Sequoyah powerlifter wins state meet
Sequoyah sophomore and Cherokee Nation citizen Laynee Pennington holds her gold medal for winning her weight class at the Oklahoma High School Girls Open State Meet on March 5 in Dickson. Pennington lifted a total of 695 pounds in squat, bench press and deadlift. She is Sequoyah’s first state champion in girls powerlifting. COURTESY
Sequoyah sophomore and Cherokee Nation citizen Kailey Lasley deadlifts during the Oklahoma High School Girls Open State Meet on March 5 in Dickson. Lasley placed seventh in her weight class, lifting a total of 565 pounds in squat, bench press and deadlift. COURTESY
DICKSON – Sequoyah High School’s Laynee Pennington won her weight class at the Oklahoma High School Girls Open State Meet on March 5, making her Sequoyah’s first state champion in girls powerlifting.
The sophomore won the 132-pound weight division by lifting a total of 695 pounds in squat, bench press and deadlift. The Cherokee Nation citizen also set a state record in girls powerlifting in bench press at 165 pounds and deadlift at 315 pounds.
“I was very excited to win. There was a girl who was very close. We were battling out the whole time. She beat me in squat and she beat me in bench and she is 30 pounds ahead of me, so I knew I had to do something on deadlift. I beat her by 5 pounds so it was a really close run the whole way,” she said.
Pennington said she’s always been into weightlifting. Her father, Nathan Pennington, was a crossfit coach, and she started participating in crossfit at age 10.
As a freshman she got involved in powerlifting, competing alongside the boys. She’s now in her second year, and now that she’s won state in girls powerlifting, she said she hopes to win another state championship and compete in the boys state powerlifting meet.
“My plan this year was to make it to the guys state, and I missed it but not by very much,” she said.
As for her powerlifting future, she’s had an offer from Bacone College in Muskogee to powerlift for its team. However, she’s unable to commit until her junior year.
She also said she’s thankful for the opportunity to be involved with a sport she loves.
“I just want to say thank you to all the coaches for allowing me to powerlift because I am the first girl to powerlift at Sequoyah. I haven’t really enjoyed playing many other sports. I just haven’t connected with anything like I have with lifting,” she said. “I want to leave a legacy here, and I think that’s my way by being the first girl powerlifter at Sequoyah.”
Also placing at the meet was Cherokee Nation citizen Kailey Lasley, a SHS sophomore. She placed seventh in the 210-pound weight class lifting a total of 565 pounds in squat, bench and deadlift.
Lasley said she felt like she could have done better but was happy she placed.
“I felt like I could have gone a lot heavier. I got ahead of myself thinking ‘oh yeah, I am going to place. This is going to be easy.’ But I got set back. I was upset about it, but at least I placed,” she said.
This is Lasley’s first year in powerlifting, and she said she loves it. She said it was “intimidating” at first, but the boys team is supportive. “All the boys on our team are very supportive of what we are doing. Not one of them will talk down to us. They pick us up when we get down and let us know that we are good enough.”
Lasley said she plans to continue lifting and hopes to win a state championship at the girls state meet next year. She said her goal is to powerlift for Louisiana State University or Texas Tech University.
Powerlifting coach Brad Jones said he is proud of the two girls.
“This is second year we have had girls powerlifting and these two girls have really dedicated themselves to the sport. They have worked hard and they have shown me that it’s not something they’re just doing for fun, they’re actually out there wanting to compete,” he said.
Jones said he hopes their interest encourages more girls to participate.
“With more and more participation happening with girls powerlifting, girls powerlifting could branch off and be their own sport whereas they have to compete with the guys most of the time,” he said. “This is the only girls meet that they have right now. So hopefully the sport can grow where there is more girls invitationals and girls can start competing against other girls and maybe one day one of these girls can make it and beat some of the guys too, which is something I would like to see.”