Performance Initiative’s Athletes secure a total of 5 spots on Team USA.
The Non-profit organization from Savannah, Georgia helping at Risk Youth Took Home Bronze, Silver and Gold with several personal bests and minting 5 members of team USA representing the United States at the World Championships in Fiji.
Chicago, IL, February 14-17— Performance Initiative’s took 8 athletes to USA Weightlifting 2019 National Junior Championships, the last opportunity for lifters to qualify for a spot on Team USA at the World Championship in Fiji. Ashamarie Benitez, Kaiya Bryant, Carlos Millen, Tayon Vereen, and Nia Walker have cemented their places on Team USA, members of Performance Initiatives competition team. The team collected 8 bronze medals, 1 silver medal, 6 gold medals, 2 national records, and 4 personal bests!
Tayon Vereen, newly minted 2019 Junior National Champion qualified for the 2019 Junior World Team in the 109 kg weight class as well. Vereen an eighteen year-old attending Johnson High School also in Savannah won gold all around with a snatch of 143 kg, clean and jerk of 175 kg for a total combined lift of 318 kg. Tayon had personal records on all lifts and his combined totals.
Kerri Goodrich, Executive Director, went on to say “Tayon is one of the youth that has been with us quite sometime and works at the facility after school in addition to training. Along with his fellow teammate Carlos Millen, he has started helping coach at the gym and is an inspiration to the up and coming youth at our facility.”
In the 61 kg division, Carlos Millen 3-time National Champion and member of 2019 Junior World Team USA had a personal best 236 kg for his combined lift comprising of a snatch of 102 kg and clean and jerk of 134 kg clinching gold on all of his lifts. Carlos a former member of the 2017 Youth Pan Am Team and 2018 Jr. World Team has represented the USA twice and will again for a third year as he competes in Fiji during the 2019 World Championships. Millen is a 12th grader attending Savannah Christian.
Kaiya Bryant, 2-time Youth National Champion and member of 2019 Youth World Team USA was the youngest in her division at 14 years of age. She was competing against others in her weight class of 49 kg up to 20 years of age in the Junior’s competition. The distinction between Juniors and Youth is Juniors compete by weight class like Youth, however the ages range is up to 20 years of age or elementary school to college age. Youth competes based on ages up to 17 and weight class.
Kaiya broke two national records with Clean and Jerk of 85 kg and her combined total of 147 kg including her Snatch of 62 kg. She is a world class athlete and is just getting started. Kaiya is currently in 7th grade at STEM Academy at Bartlett in Savannah. At the same time Kaiya was lifting her 15 year-old brother, Kye, 2018 Youth National Champions, a 10th grade student at Jenkins High School, also the youngest in his division (55 kg) snatched 85 kg (bronze medal), clean and jerk 105 kg (silver medal) for a total of 195 kg winning overall bronze.
“It was almost overwhelming to see brother and sister lifting at the same time on platforms side-by-side and both being the youngest it was amazing to see them place competing against more seasoned lifters. It’s a testament to the hard work and dedication this youth have,” exclaimed their coach, Kerri Goodrich
Sixteen year-old, Nia Walker in the 87 kg division and 2-time National Champion, and 2019 Youth World Team member, won bronze with her lifts. Walker snatched 80 kg, clean and jerk 106 kg for a combined total of 186 kg. Nia was also a member of the 2018 USA Youth Pan Am Team. Nia attends Johnson High School in Savannah currently in the 10th grade.
Goodrich, stated “2019 is off to a great start with a new facility located on the campus of our partner, Second Harvest and 5 of our youth qualifying for a place on the 2019 World Team. Our programs inspire youth from elementary school age through college. We help with free tutoring, a Kids Cafe, providing dinner and a facility that helps create healthier hearts, minds and bodies.”
The Performance Initiatives facility is supported by donations from individuals and businesses in our community. Please consider helping us support programs that help at risk youth with opportunities in school, work and athletics.
NOTE TO EDITORS
Performance Initiatives (PI), Inc, strengthens hearts, minds and bodies of over 140 children annually through it’s after school programs and partners with Second Harvest providing dinner at the Kid’s Cafe. PI is home to Coastal Empire Weightlifting Club (CEWC) and Savannah CrossFit and provides classes for both adults and children. CEWC is a United States Amateur Weightlifting (USAW) Athlete Training Center.