Times Staff Reporter
Fifteen year-old Brazil resident Jed Thomas entered an area weight lifting competition recently in hopes of breaking a national dead lift record.
He did so by 55 pounds.
Thomas was a competitor at the March 6 Sonlight Power National Benchpress and Deadlift competition in Tuscola, Ill, in the ages 13-15 181-pound weight class. It was at this competition that he re-wrote the competition's record book with a lift of 500 pounds. The previous national record for said age group was 445 pounds.
"It was pretty exciting," Thomas said. "I worked very hard for several months to get ready, and all that work paid off."
Thomas, a sophomore at Northview High School, actually now owns the nation's top two spots. The competition allows each competitor three lifts. After tying the national record on his first try, he 'very easily' lifted 475 pounds on the second attempt. Even though he had already set a national best, Thomas said he felt very confident he could achieve a 500-pound lift and pursued the mark with great confidence.
He was awarded a large trophy and three complimentary plaques for his effort.
Thomas, who also plays football at Northview, began an extensive training regimen for the Sonlight Power competition in November following season's end. He worked twice a week with personal trainer Josh Bowman working both with weights while doing various other exercises. Bowman was all compliments for Thomas following his triumph in Tuscola.
"(Jed) is the hardest working kid I've ever trained with," Bowman said. "He never quits. His success doesn't surprise me at all."
Going into the competition, Bowman says Thomas' personal best lift was 470 pounds. The trainer said it showed a lot of fortitude for Thomas to elevate his performance to such unprecedented heights when the pressure was on.
"He outperformed what I expected for sure," Bowman said.
In addition to his natural ability, Thomas also felt a great deal of inspiration during his training session. He dedicated his performance and training to the memory of Halie Hite, the 15 year-old Northview student who died tragically in an automobile accident last October. Thomas called Hite a 'very close friend' and said she was a great motivator for his work in the competition.
Despite his towering success at the March 6 competition, Thomas has very little time to rest on his accomplishments. He will head back to Tuscola on April 24 for another Sonlight National Event. Already the record holder for his age group, he says his main focus is simply on improving on his recent success, stating he hopes to increase his maximum lift by 15 pounds. Thomas spoke with great confidence when discussing his weight lifting abilities and openly expressed his belief he could find success in various nationwide competitions for years to come.
"I am looking forward to working and training for quite some time," Thomas said. "I think I have a good future in the sport."
Bowman agreed, expressing a great desire to continue to work with the young Thomas in hopes to help him continue to build until he's finally reached the heights he desires to reach.
"Jed is the strongest kid I've ever seen anywhere," Bowman said. "There's no reason to believe he won't continue to build on the record for years to come."