Girl power

Hayden sophomore breaks 3 national weight-lifting records

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Hayden is the home of one of the strongest girls in the United States.

Hayden High School sophomore Jesse Hayes broke three national weight-lifting records at a competition in Loveland this weekend.

In the 148-pound division of high school-level competition of the Natural Athlete Strength Association (NASA), 16-year-old Hayes dead-lifted almost 282 pounds, bench-pressed 170 pounds and curled 88.2 pounds, all American records.

"She was amazing," said Jim McDermott, Colorado state chairman of NASA. "I know what I'm talking about. I've been doing this since 1963, and this girl is phenomenal. Jesse is one of the strongest girls I've ever seen."

Hayes said she always has been interested in strength training. She doesn't play any team sports, but rather uses her strength in bull riding. She also spends a lot of time working with steers in 4-H.

She tries to steer clear of greasy food and occasionally substitutes free weights with a Bowflex at home, but determining where she gets her raw power is more complex than she or her family can explain.

"I don't know where she gets it," said her mother, Tina Hayes. "I just back her 110 percent in whatever she does. She wrestled since she was in kindergarten, and she just got into it and loves it."

Jesse said having a large crowd watching got her adrenaline pumping and could have assisted her in her lifts.

"I just thought, 'I'd better get this,'" she said. "It's just that much more pressure.

"I went just because I thought it would be fun. When I told them what I could lift, a guy said, 'It sounds like you're going to break some records today.'"

Even with proof that she's stronger than most girls of her age and size in the country, she remains humble and strives for personal goals above all else.

"She's got great potential," Hayden High School physical education teacher Sally Brach-Morton said. "She likes to rodeo, but she's got a real future in weight-lifting. She could make the national team and represent our country."

McDermott agrees. He has his own weight-lifting team that he brings to national competitions, and he wants Jesse to join his team for the NASA World Competition Aug. 14 and 15 in Oklahoma City.

"She's strong and humble -- the kind of kid you like to see," McDermott said.

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