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Valley Journals

South Jordan teen wins spot on team USA

Apr 10, 2018 03:56PM ● By Keyra Kristoffersen

Chloe Wise shows off her impressive skills that qualified her for the 2018 Team USA for the Pan American Games. (Stacy Wise)

Two years ago, Chloe Wise was a normal 14-year-old. She went to school, she hung out with her family, she went to the gym with her mom. But that all changed when she discovered CrossFit, then Olympic weightlifting, and now two years later, at the age of 16, Chloe Wise is ranked fifth in the nation and just won a spot on Team USA for the Youth Pan American women’s weightlifting squad heading to Columbia in June 2018. 

“Three months into doing CrossFit, I found weightlifting on Instagram, and I had no idea what it was. I had no idea it was an actual sport; I just know we did the same kind of lifts in CrossFit,” said the Bingham High student who had always preferred the lifting portion of CrossFit to the other exercises. 

With that, she was hooked, found a coach and competed the following week in a local meet that qualified her for the Youth Nationals competition in Austin, Texas. After three months of training, Wise placed fourth place in the nation in the summer of 2016. At her second Youth Nationals, she took fifth place and decided to get more serious, dropping her CrossFit training to focus on Olympic weightlifting. 

“I just had more confidence in weightlifting, so I just said, ‘Hey, why don’t I just do this?’ and I started to back off doing CrossFit and lifting more,” she said. “The more I did it, the more I got better at it.”.

With her increased enthusiasm, Wise found SLC weightlifting coach, Braden Jenkins, who helped train her the last eight months to prepare for the National Junior Championships for ages 21 and under, where she took fifth place and earned her spot on Team USA, currently lifting around 178 pounds in snatch and 216 for clean and jerk. 

“Weightlifting is a very technical sport, and your technique is everything,” said Wise. “If you don’t have a coach guiding you, it’s kind of hard to go by yourself.”

Wise knew her placement in the Junior nationals might qualify her for a place on Team USA, but she and her family were on the edge of their seats for days waiting for the call. 

“I was at school when I found out, my mom calling me, freaking out because they had called her,” said Wise. “I told my whole family, and everyone was freaking out, and it got all over social media.”

With the coming games, Wise said her training and diet have become even stricter getting prepared to perform her best. And though she’s had to sacrifice a lot to accomplish her training plan, often missing out on typical high school activities, the opportunity to compete on an international team outweighs what she’s lost.

“I’m sacrificing a lot for a good reward, and that means a lot to me,” she said. “It’s definitely rewarding, and I’d rather be doing this than doing something else.” Wise said she plans to keep going and competing as long as she can, and maybe someday, be a part of the Olympics. 

“I want to go as far as I can and reach my goals,” said Wise.

But for now, Wise wants to get through high school and look forward to the other meets she plans to participate in the rest of the year, eventually preparing for college, where she hopes to attend the University of Utah and study sports performance and nutrition. She does lament that most colleges don’t have their own school weightlifting teams, but perhaps one day, that will change. 

Wise has traveled to Texas, Georgia, and Washington for weightlifting competitions, and after Columbia, she has plans to head to Pennsylvania in July to qualify for the Youth Olympics in Argentina in October. She said her family has been great to support her.

“I have a great family; they’re extremely supportive, and traveling to all of these national events can get really expensive,” said Wise, who is glad that for Team USA, all travel and incidentals are paid for, so she can focus on doing her best. “My parents have always sacrificed a lot for me to be able to go to these things... Making Team USA and making an international competition has been my biggest goal for this year.”