February 18, 2018
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  • JP Kuhlman, Jacy Kuhlam and Ella Grizzle all took home individual honors at the Baltimore Open Olympic weightlifting competition in February.
    Courtesy photo
    JP Kuhlman, Jacy Kuhlam and Ella Grizzle all took home individual honors at the Baltimore Open Olympic weightlifting competition in February.

Athlete Spotlight: Jacy Kuhlman And Ella Grizzle, Olympic Weightlifters

Colin Murphy
View Bio
February 6, 2018

Say the words “Olympic weightlifting,” and most people won’t imagine the competitors being high school girls.

That’s OK for Severna Park High School senior Jacy Kuhlman and freshman Ella Grizzle, who both recently won their divisions at the Baltimore Open Olympic weightlifting competition held at Old Line Crossfit in Millersville.

Olympic weightlifting is distinct from the more common powerlifting exercises such as bench press and squat that are frequently seen in high school weight rooms. Olympic weightlifting consists of the snatch and the clean and jerk, two events in which the lifter begins at a standstill and hoists a weighted bar over her head.

Kuhlman, 18, competed in the Junior division for women 18-20 years old in the 69 kilogram (152.1 pounds) bodyweight class. She successfully lifted 60 kilograms (132.3 pounds) in the snatch and 80 kilograms (176.4 pounds) in the clean and jerk in all three of her attempts in both events and placed first in her division and weight class. Her performance at the Baltimore Open qualifies her to compete in the American Open Series in Columbus, Ohio, in March.

Kuhlman is a crossfit county champion and elite ice hockey player who is committed to play ice hockey next year at Endicott College in Massachusetts. She first started lifting as part of her crossfit training three years ago and decided it would be fun to enter the Baltimore Open.

“I was a little nervous leading up to the competition the day before, but once I got there, the atmosphere was really laid back and it reminded me that I was just doing this to gain a good experience,” Kuhlman said, adding that Olympic weightlifting has helped her ice hockey game. “It is beneficial to hockey because weightlifting increases your strength, quickness and mobility, which has made a big impact on the ice because it is injury-preventative, and I do not get pushed around while playing.”

Grizzle, 14, competed in the Youth/53 kg (116.8 pounds) division at the Baltimore Open, placed first and won the title of Best Overall Youth Lifter across all youth age and bodyweight classes. Grizzle broke her own state records with a snatch of 64 kg (141 pounds) and a clean and jerk of 78 kg (171.9 pounds), both new state records as tracked by USA Weightlifting. Her combined total of 142 kilograms was also a new state record.

Grizzle will compete at the U.S. Junior National Championships in Spokane, Washington, later this month — at 14 she is technically still in the Youth (U17) division, but her totals qualify her to compete up into the Junior (18-20) division. A veteran of the Youth National Championships in 2016 and 2017, she will return to compete in this year’s Youth National Championships in Michigan in June.

Grizzle, who is also an avid lacrosse player, has been lifting and crossfit training for about two years and says she enjoys the ongoing process of improving and building strength.

“I really love to train and to get better at it,” said Grizzle. “Also, I’ve met a lot of really great people through it who have helped me grow as an athlete and a person. It helps me stay confident and composed on the field, and it keeps me in shape all year.”

Also competing and winning honors at the Baltimore Open was JP Kuhlman, 26, Jacy’s brother and a seasoned competitor in Olympic weightlifting. Kuhlman successfully lifted 112 kg (246.9 pounds) in the snatch and 150 kg (330.7 pounds) in the clean and jerk to win the Senior men’s open division in the 76 kg bodyweight class, and he also earned the title of Best Overall Male Lifter as the top pound-for-pound lifter among all men in all bodyweight classes. Kuhlman is a veteran of the sport, having won the state championship of Michigan in the summer of 2017.

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