Before her freshman year at The Ohio State University even began, Brooke Conley hadn’t given college weightlifting the slightest thought.
Now, she’s part of a world championship powerlifting program.
Conley, who didn’t even know that she’d be on the Buckeyes’ powerlifting roster before the season began and didn’t know if she would even be going to the world championships, utilized a fifth-place finish in the 84-plus kilogram division to help Ohio State collect a University Powerlifting World Cup sweep in the boys and girls divisions in a contest that was held in Potchefstroom, South Africa from July 10 to July 15.
For Conley, winning an international championship, and the memories that go along with traveling to South Africa, are things that she’ll never forget.
“It is truly an amazing feeling,” Conley said. “The memories that I made in South Africa will stay with me forever, and the people in South Africa were so kind and easy to get along with. It was amazing to see so many men and women from other countries that love doing the same exact things that I do. Even though it was a competition, friends were made along with memories that will last a lifetime. I was so proud to be a Buckeye and now, it means even more. Together, as a team, my fellow Buckeyes and I became world champs, and not many people can say that, so I am so very thankful for that opportunity.”
For Conley and the entire Ohio State powerlifting squad, just making it to nationals required tremendous sacrifice, which was shown off in spades at the Collegiate National Championships.
During the championships, which were held in San Antonio, Texas, Conley immediately set a strong standard by obtaining a 264.6 pound mark in the squat on her second try and — on her final attempt — a 281.1 pound standard. Then, after putting together a tidy 143.3-pound mark on the bench press, Conley proceeded to set her personal best in the dead lift with an outstanding mark of 319.7 on the dead lift in her final attempt.
With her overall marks in the books, Conley collected a ninth-place finish in her weight class by lifting a total of 744.1 pounds, and as a result, was one of 15 Ohio State powerlifting athletes to finish in the top 10 in a weight class — allowing both of the Buckeyes’ men’s and women’s units to advance to the collegiate worlds behind a pair of runner-up finishes.
Conley, however, only improved on those marks when the international championships came around, as the Wheelersburg product matched her bench press mark, improved her squat mark by over 32 pounds to 297, and bumped her dead lift max up by over 10 pounds to reach 330, which allowed the freshman to reach a total of 770 pounds between all three of her lifts.
“Overall, I hit 297 on squat, 143 bench and 330 on deadlift,” Conley said. “I gave it my all while competing, but unfortunately, I did not hit the exact number I wanted. But in all honesty, I am never truly pleased with my numbers because I know I can always do more.”
However, that mark, which was nearly 36 pounds better than her 744.1 pound mark set at the collegiate nationals, proved to be huge as Conley’s fifth-place finish in the 84-plus kilogram division, along with two huge victories by Heidi Lewis and Katie Malas, allowed Ohio State to take home the championship by a scant three points over the University College of London.
“It takes an extreme amount of effort and compassion to make it that far in powerlifting,” Conley said. “Myself and my team has dedicated hours upon hours for training and working on being the very best we can be. Having the opportunity to travel across the world to compete at such a high level and winning the overall competition is just a reflection on the hard work that was put in.”
With a national title in hand, Conley could stop there and just be satisfied with one trip to international competition. However, as her previous comments indicate, the former Pirate isn’t going to be be satisfied with settling when there’s more to be accomplished.
“It would be amazing if we could repeat at the collegiate nationals,” Conley said. “That would give us the opportunity to travel to collegiate worlds again. We work so very hard each and every day so meets like nationals and worlds are so special and rewarding. It is my own personal goal to try and travel the world as much as I can doing what I love and doing it with my amazing teammates.”
Reach Kevin Colley at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930 OR on Twitter @ColleyKevin7