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Local Sports

Kalkhoff works at US Olympic weightlifting camp

Sarah Kalkhoff, Newton High senior, knows the benefits of weightlifting. She pointed to her weightlifting as a major factor in her reaching her junior year goal of a state championship in the discus in May.

Kalkhoff has been “hitting the weights” since the sixth grade, but not until 18 months ago did she begin Olympic-style weightlifting. Her dedication in the weight room earned Kalkhoff “a great experience” over the summer.

At the end of July, Kalkhoff spent time at an elite youth junior camp at the United States Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. She was among 20 up-and-coming athletes working with OTC resident team coach Zygmunt Smalcerz in the weeklong camp.

“The facilities there are amazing and the coach was awesome to work with,” Kalkhoff said. “I got to see what it takes to be that good and be an elite athlete in weightlifting. It’s an experience I won’t be able to replace with anything else.”

Kalkhoff said she enjoyed the training at the camp — two-a-days of weightlifting and two-a-days with weightlifting and agility training. 

She said they worked on the two Olympic lifts — the snatch, which a lifter takes the bar from the floor all the way above the head, and the clean and jerk, which involves two moves to put the weighted bar above the head. They also did squat lifts and a lot of excerises to strengthen the back and shoulders not just the legs.

“It was challenging. It tested your mental and physical toughness,” she said.

Earlier in the summer, Kalkhoff competed in the USA Weightlifting National Youth Championship meet in Dayton Beach, Fla. She finished third overall in her age and weight division. 

Kalkhoff achieved her personal-best of 74 kilos (just a little more than 163 pounds) in the snatch lift, placing third. She was fourth in the clean and jerk lift. Her total amount of weight lifted placed her third overall. Her best at the clean and jerk is 95 kilos (just a little more than 209 pounds).

“I love the atmosphere of weightlifting competitions. Everybody is cheering and encouraging each other,” Kalkhoff said. “I’m on a 12-week cycle of lifting. My next competition is the Minnesota Open in October, then I’ll compete in the Des Moines Open in December.”

Kalkhoff said she is hoping to qualify for the USA Weightlifting Junior Nationals in January.

“I got into weightlifting to help with my throwing. It has allowed me to get quicker feet and to get faster going across the circle,” Kalkhoff said. “The mental aspect of being able to throw weight above your bodyweight above your head is as challenging as the weight itself. There’s a lot of self talk going on. You have to have the confidence in yourself.”

Kalkhoff holds the Newton High school record in the discus. She set that mark winning the Class 4A discus state championship in May. She won the event with a throw of 140 feet, 11 inches. As a sophomore, Kalkhoff finished second in the event at state.

Kalkhoff earned the Iowa Association of Track Coaches All-Elite honors and first-team Class 4A state honors.

“I’m focusing on the weightlifting and on track as a senior. I’m going to train hard and strong for both this year,” Kalkhoff said. “I’m hoping to be able to get a scholarship to a NCAA Division I or Division II college to compete in track. I’m interested in a career field in science and medicine so that will be a part of my decision on a college.

“I really appreciate having the opportunity to go to the USA Weightlifting camp this summer. I learned a lot, which will help me as I train this year. And of course I’m looking toward being able to defend my state title in the discus next spring.”

Kalkhoff is the daughter of Dave and Lorraine Kalkhoff of Newton.

Contact Sports Editor Jocelyn Sheets at (641) 792-3121 Ext. 6535 or

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