The road to international youth weightlifting championships has been a long and challenging journey for Kutztown Area High School senior Kate Wehr, but the hard work and commitment has been well worth the time and effort.
The 17-year-old took home 3rd place in the Youth Pan-American Weightlifting Championships in Colombia this past November, and set a new youth American record by snatching 79 kilograms in the 16-17-year-old 58-kilogram weight class.
Wehr, who is enrolled in Kutztown’s Virtual Academy, has already traveled to places around the country such as Texas, Nevada, and Minnesota, and will be traveling to Spokane, Washington, in four weeks to compete in junior nationals. Kate was a member of Kutztown’s wrestling team in grades 7 through 9, which led to her career in weightlifting.
“I started to dabble in weightlifting in 2014 when I went to Garage Strength with the school wrestling team. Dane Miller, the owner and weightlifting coach, would nag me every day to keep a membership at the gym after our team training expired. He always thought I would excel at the sport because I had the perfect build for a weightlifter,” Wehr said. “I would train one or two days a week for about a year, but started taking weightlifting more seriously in 2015 after I placed 3rd at youth nationals.”
In just four short years of lifting competitively, Wehr has a lot of hardware to show for all of her hard work. In 2015, she set a youth American record in the snatch, where she snatched 68 kilograms and set the record in the 14-to-15-year-old 58-kilogram weight class.
In 2017, she was the youth national champion in the 16-to-17-year-old 58-kilogram weight class.
She has been invited to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs to train, and recently trained at a development camp at Rogue Headquarters in Ohio, where she trained under the watchful eye of Pyrros Dimas, a four-time Olympic medalist. In Kate’s first international competition in Palmira, Colombia, she earned a bronze medal in snatch, clean and jerk, and overall.
Although she makes it seem easy, Kate follows a strict workout schedule and trains for hours each week.
“I put in a little over two hours a day, five days a week, all year long as well as all of my teammates, some training six days a week. I start my training with about a half an hour of stretching and then about 15 minutes of bar work and other warm up movements to activate my hamstrings, glutes, and loosen my shoulders and hips,” she said. “After warming up, I finally get to the actual training portion.”
On top of training, she said there is recovery. She goes to Mobility Doc to see Dr. John Giacalone two days a week for around an hour and a half to focus on mobility and recovery.
For Kate, weightlifting has become simply part of her life, and she prides herself on her work ethic and dedication to the sport.
“Weightlifting challenges me every day. With many high school sports, there is an offseason. You get attention in school if you do something impressive. Your friends and peers come and watch you play,” she said. “In weightlifting, there is none of this. You have to be in the gym every day, all year long whether you want to or not, and trust me, there are many days that you do not want to be there.”
That hasn’t stopped Wehr, who hasn’t taken a week off from training for over two years.
“It takes dedication and lots of hard work,” she said. “There are many sacrifices I have made for this sport and to become a champion.”
At the beginning of her weightlifting career, Wehr never would have imagined she would be where she is today. But now, as the accolades continue to build up, she realizes that when it comes to weightlifting, there is little that stands in her way from becoming the best.