Final preparations are under way at the Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri, for the start of the 2017 USA Weightlifting Nike National Junior Championships, presented by Rogue Fitness. Over 400 of the nation's best 20-and-under lifters will step up to the platform throughout the weekend. Session begin bright and early on Friday morning and will run through Sunday afternoon.
This is the first USA Weightlifting national event of the year, following the 2016 American Open Championships in December. There's guaranteed to be a lot of close competition and exciting lifts as these junior athletes showcase their mental and physical strength on the national stage.
In the women's 48kg, the dynamic duo of Megan Seegert (Durham, Calif.) and Hayley Reichardt (Leesport, Pa.) will put up a close battle. Several months ago in Orlando at the American Open, they both totaled at 162kg, with Reichardt edging out Seegert for bronze by weight advantage. Seegert currently holds all three junior American records for the 48kg weight class.
Jourdan Delacruz (Wylie, Texas), another seasoned junior lifter, leads the women's 53kg class. Delacruz, who holds all junior American records for 53kg, is headed into the weekend with a 29kg lead over her competitors' entry total. In the women's 63kg class, eyes will be on Maddy Myers (San Diego, Calif.), who has continued to smash records and finish on the podium in recent years.
Jessie Bradley (Provo, Utah) and Juliana Riotto (Fairfield, N.J.) head into the weekend with entry totals of 205kg and 203kg, respectively, for women's 75kg. Bradley gained a considerable amount of experience and exposure in 2016, winning two golds and one silver at the Junior Pan American Games, competing in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, and representing Team USA at the IWF Junior World Championships. Riotto placed fourth at the American Open in December; Bradley did not compete.
Sha'la McMillian (Palmetto, Fla.) will leads the women's +90kg division, the newest weight class that was added to competition late last year. McMillian won bronze at the Youth World Championships in 2016 and holds a number of youth American records.
On the men's side, the crowd will be ready to cheer CJ Cummings (Beaufort, S.C.) through his first major competition of 2017. Last year brought an incredible string of performances for Cummings, who has quickly become a household name in the weightlifting world. In 2016, he smashed records and was crowned both a IWF Junior and Youth World Champion.
The largest weight class of this weekend is the men's 77kg, with four sessions scheduled throughout Saturday. Mason Groehler (Denmark, Wisc.) leads the field with an entry total of 303kg.
Omar Cummings (Beaufort, S.C.) and Josh Piasecki (Saint Cloud, Fla.) will battle it out in the men's 85kg division. Cummings, who trains under Coach Ray Jones with his brother, is also a seasoned international lifter for Team USA.
"It's going to be a big weekend of weightlifting here at the Crown Center," said USA Weightlifting Executive Director Phil Andrews. "We are grateful for our event partnerships with Nike, Rogue Fitness, and the Kansas City Weightlifting club and would like to especially thank our volunteers who are helping to make this weekend a success."
Tickets can be purchased at the door (credit card only), and a live webcast will be broadcasted on the USA Weightlifting website. Full event details can be found here. For the most current news from Kansas City, stay tuned to USA Weightlifting's social media accounts.