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Top of her class

Lake Central senior Laura Schoonmaker, with help from her strength coach Tom Halterman, left, and track coach Ron Fredrick, has become a record-setting weightlifter.

ST. JOHN | Strength is a coveted attribute.

But it doesn't always make up for flawed habits. Laura Schoonmaker has found that out the hard way.

"I used to play softball, so that's where I probably got it from," said the Lake Central senior, who is a thrower on the Indians track and field team.

"Instead of trying to get more lift on my shot put throws, I tend to release it in more of a softball throwing motion," Schoonmaker said. "That's why I sometimes have elbow problems."

Schoonmaker is also working to put more of a spin on her shot put throws.

"I spin when throwing the discus because it's more of a natural motion with that," she said. "Before with the shot, I just did a slide. But the best throwers spin, so that's what I need to do. It's just spinning to throw the shot put is a harder technique to learn."

Schoonmaker hopes the tune-up to her throwing form will lead to a break-out final high school season where she can qualify for the state finals and perhaps open more doors to continue her academic-athletic career in college.

One thing is for sure, Schoonmaker is already well ahead of schedule when it comes to procuring collegiate-level strength.

At the 16th-annual NWI Region Weightlifting Competition held Jan. 17 at Hobart High School, Schoonmaker set two meet records in the Senior Girls Division with a deadlift of 425 pounds and a "triple lift" of 745 lbs. -- the other two lifts were the bench press and the clean (bringing a weighted barbell to rest at shoulder level).

The deadlift record broke the previous mark by 110 lbs. -- Schoonmaker set that last year when she recorded the top triple lift total to lead the Junior Girls Division as well as pacing all other grade divisions.

"Last year was the first time I competed in a weightlifting competition," Schoonmaker said. "My track coach (Ron Fredrick) and my strength coach (Tom Halterman) thought I should give it a try.

"I've made some great improvements since I started, but I expect the jumps in weight will slow down a little."

Though the NWI Region meet is the only weightlifting competitions Schoonmaker has ever competed in, she plans to compete while in college if her schedule allows.

"It was something I did for track, but as a competition itself, it's fun," said Schoonmaker, who regularly trains after school in Lake Central's bustling weight room.

"I also go to Crossfit DNA (in Schererville)," she said. "The workouts are different every day, and they are intense."

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Sports Director

Hillary has covered prep, pro and college sports -- and even a Dixie Baseball World Series -- for newspapers north and south of the Mason-Dixon Line since 1995.