Five Waimanalo teens went to the AAU Bench Press Championship in Marina del Mer California, and all came back North American Champions.
The Waimanalo power lifting team Fear God swept the top places in its weight categories and came home with gold medals and first place trophies. They competed in weight categories against teens from the United States and Canada. The Waimanalo champions are:
Keneke Ward took first place in the 148 lb. High School Division and first place in the 148 lb. Professional Teen-men Division. In the process he broke the California record twice. He was voted Best Lifter Teen-men for the Tournament.
Michael Colley took first place in the 132 lb. High School Division and first place in the 132 lb. Pro-teen Men Division. Together, Michael and Keneke won first place Pro Teen-men High School Team.
Heather Starbuck, who is Hawaii State Champion, took first place in the 132 lb. High School Division and first place in the 132 lb. Pro Teen-women Division.
Maricel Bimbo took first place in the 105 lb. High School Division and first place in the 105 lb. Pro Teen-women Division.
Mary Grace Bimbo took first place in the 97 lb. High School Division and first place in the Pro Teen-women Division. Mary weighed in at 84 lbs. qualifying her for the 88 lb. class. However, that class competition was canceled and she competed in the next higher weight class against girls weighing more than ten pounds over her weight. She broke the California record.
Together the three girls won first place as a Teen-women Team.
Coach Keith Ward, owner of Keneke's BBQ and Kimoz of Waimanalo, is the award winning coach of the Fear God power lifting team. "About 25 teens train at my house, two or three times a week," said Keith. The training includes information on nutrition and the benefits of eight hours of sleep. It also helps the kids learn to focus. "The kids in the program--they're grades in school have improved. We check before we let them lift." The weight training also benefits them in other sports. For example, Heather Starbuck was rated the number one soccer goalie for her league.
"This is a real positive thing in their lives," said Keith Ward, who coaches the kids with assistant coach and team chaplain Dave Starbuck. The Fear God power lifting team is a youth program of the First Baptist Church of Waimanalo. Pastor Bruce Kishimoto picks up the teens in the church van and takes them to training. Now the team is preparing for the Junior Olympics August 4 through 6, at the Super Dome in New Orleans. Then they're off to the World Championships August 23 and 24, in Chicago... that is if they can raise the money for another trip. The First Baptist Church of Waimanalo is accepting donations for the power lifting team. To help out call 259-7057.