Six local weightlifters compete at Youth Nationals in California

NORTH PLATTE, Neb. (KNOP) - Six local weightlifters competed at the USA Weightlifting National Youth Championships in Anaheim, CA from June 27-30.

Kolten Tilford finished with three gold medals at the USA Weightlifting Youth National Championships in Anaheim, CA (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)

Kolten Tilford, Kylee Tilford, Matthew Musselman, Samuel Mussleman, Aspen Lavante and Carson Hoover lift at Enzo Athletic Performance in North Platte.

Kolten Tilford finished first overall, first in snatch, and first in clean jerk, for the 14-15 age 67 kilogram group. His twin sister Kylee finished second overall, second in snatch, and second in clean jerk for the 14-15 age 59 kilogram group. Matthew Musselman finished fourth overall, third in snatch, and fourth in clean jerk in the 14-15 age +89 kilogram group. Hoover finished fifth overall, sixth in snatch, and fifth in clean jerk in the 16-17 age 81 kilogram group. Samuel Mussleman finished seventh overall, eighth in snatch, and eighth in clean jerk for the 16-17 age 89 kilogram group. Lavante finished 13th overall, 12th in snatch, and 15th in clean jerk in the under 13 age 49 kilogram group.

Kolten Tilford has been weightlifting for nearly two years, and finished in third place overall at Nationals last year. Having the experience of competing last year did not help his nerves heading into this year's competition.

"When I got there I was really nervous but once I started to lift my adrenaline just kicked in and I just kind of forgot about everything and made the lift," Kolton Tilford said.

This is the first year of weightlifting for Kylee Tilford, but seeing her brother compete last year is what interested her in competing in the first place, but she also is hoping to improve her play in softball and volleyball. Competing in Anaheim was unlike any other competition she has been at to date.

"It was way bigger, the environment was so much different than where I had been before, competing at Omaha," Kylee Tilford said.

Watching Kolten at last year's Nationals gave her an idea of what the atmosphere would be like, "I was kind of ready, but very nervous at the same time," she said.

Kylee Tilford wasn't the only one hoping to improve other sports by starting weight lifting. Carson Hoover has been weight lifting for five years, and originally started to improve at football.

"I originally started just to get stronger and faster, then eventually just fell in love with the sport and doing it competitively," Hoover said, "it brings strength and speed. Being in high school, you can tell the difference, I just feel a lot more coordinated," he added.

Hoover finished in first overall at Nationals last year, but this year, he competed in the 16-17 age group, despite only being 15. However, having a group of competitors from the same gym with him in California made the experience a memorable one.

"it was so much better having so many more people on being able to cheer, and there was a lot more people to be cheering me on, and it was a lot more positive too with everyone there," Hoover said.

Matthew Musselman finished in eighth place last year, but came home with a medal with his third place finish in snatch.

He said the key to being a good weightlifter is, "just a lot of dedication. Really just focusing on what you need to do and dedication."

As the competition progressed, and it became possible to finish with a medal, not much was on Matthew Musselman's mind but his lifts.

"I was thinking please hit them so I can medal. But other than that it was just kind of blank," he said.

Matthew Musselman enjoyed his time in California. He and his family spent some time sightseeing, but he also paid attention to the competition.

"There was a lot of food eating, but other than that it was a lot of watching other competitors lift," he said. On the experience of the competition itself, Matthew Musselman said, "it was awesome because it's a big old building with a ton of weight lifters who are all in a community. It's a really fun experience."

As for her first experience competing at Nationals, Kylee Tilford said adrenaline had a large role for her.

"The adrenaline in you, it's crazy going out on stage. I am really nervous so I just always am ready to get that lift over," she said.

Finishing with a medal in her first year of competition was particularly special for her.

"I thought maybe I can medal, and that's really what I was hoping for, but also knowing that it was my first year, I wasn't going to be upset if I didn't. But, when I did get that silver medal, it was crazy, it was awesome," Kylee Tilford said.