“I have a picture when I got the 160 above my head and the look on my face shows just how I felt,” Hannah Ogle said.
It was a photo from the Florida High School Athletic Association girls weightlifting championships in Kissimmee in February and it captured the moment Ogle, a senior at Interlachen High School, locked up her first medal at her fourth and final state meet.
The achievement merited Daily News Girls Weightlifter of the Year honors for Ogle, who posted personal bests of 140 pounds in the bench press and 160 in the clean and jerk for a 300-pound total and fourth place in the 129-pound weight class in Kissimmee.
She had no margin for error, according to IHS coach Ron Whitehurst.
“If she had missed either of those lifts, she’d have fallen all the way to eighth because it would have been a four-way tie and she was the heaviest,” he said. “She worked so hard on her technique. Once she cleaned it, she had it. The jerk was no problem.
“We had set a goal. We knew we couldn’t catch the top three – one of them benched 200 pounds and one cleaned 200. We talked about winning a medal and said the best we could do was fourth. I’m so proud of her.”
Encouraged to get into weightlifting by older sister Sarah Ogle, Hannah also excels at softball, a sport she’ll continue to play at Salem College, an NAIA institution in Winston-Salem, N.C. While there are obvious benefits to weightlifting for most other sports – “The legs and upper body are really important for softball,” Ogle said – she found herself driven to become a better lifter simply for the sake of being the best she could be in weightlifting.
“I didn’t focus on softball during weightlifting season. When it was weightlifting season, that was all I did,” she said. “I appreciate the dedication and the confidence and the drive that it takes to do it every day.”
Her reward was a trip to the medal stand at state after coming up short in three previous tries.
“I had a goal and I was determined to reach it. I just did what my coach told me, followed by regular technique and did my best,” Ogle said. “It was tough with my final lift (at state), but my coach and coach (Deac) Story from Bradford encouraged me the adrenaline was flowing.
“All I could think about was that this was the end of my weightlifting career and I had reached my goal.”
Though finished with competitive weightlifting, Ogle has hardly hit the weight room for the last time. It’s an important part of her regimen for softball – a full summer of travel ball is ahead before leaving for college in mid-August – and for serving as a lifeguard at Putnam Aquatic Center.
“I don’t think I’ll ever get away from (lifting) because I’ve developed such a passion for it,” Ogle said. “I want to become a softball coach and I want my players to lift. I want them to understand the importance. If you lift, you’ll be a good athlete because it builds stamina and endurance.
Ogle brings the discipline she displayed as an athlete to the classroom. She carries a weighted 4.1 grade-point average and plans to study for a career in physical therapy. She identified parents J.D. Ogle and April Ogle and stepmother Marlene Ogle as positive influences.
Whitehurst coached her both in weightlifting and softball and is among her biggest admirers.
“She’s never satisfied with where she’s at,” he said. “That’s the problem with a lot of kids. They’re the best on their team and that’s enough. To be among the elite, you have to want to be better every time out.
“She’s a good kid all the way around.”