Bonney Lake teen breaks weightlifting record

Noelle Toro-Strickling wearing the three gold medals she earned at the last national competition. Photo by Ray Still

The Plateau has a new weightlifting superstar — and she’s 13 years old.

Last month, Noelle Toro-Strickling competed in her second USA Weightlifting Youth Nationals championship. She not only secured gold in three events but broke a US record as well.

Toro-Strickling, who weighs 48kg (or just over 105 pounds), snatched 51kg/112lbs and clean and jerked 66kg/145lbs for a 117kg/258lbs total in the 13U (13 and under) category.

The previous record for clean and jerk at this age range was 65kg, set by a 14 year-old female weightlifter around 12 years ago.

The Bonney Lake resident and Mountain View Middle School student has been weightlifting since she was 11.

She started out as a gymnast competing at level seven when her gymnast coach’s husband, a weightlifting coach, encouraged Toro-Strickling to give it a go.

But neither she nor her mother expected Toro-Strickling to qualify for the 2016 national competition during her first ever meet, being able to already lift more than her total weight in both the snatch and clean and jerk events combined.

Toro-Strickling trains four days a week in order to continue improving, but Shannon, her mother, said there’s some athletic genes that are helping her out as well.

“Her grandfather was a boxer in Seattle, back in the day. He was the Emerald City Raging Bull,” Shannon said, referring to Jesse James Toro Sr, who himself was the son of “Seattle’s Godfather of Boxing” Joe Toro. “That’s where the strength comes from.”

The next step for Toro-Strickling is the American Open Series in Michigan in September as the school year resumes.

Thankfully, Shannon said, her daughter is just as focused on her schoolwork as she is about her weightlifting, and even though she misses many school days due to gymnastic and weightlifting meets and competitions, Toro-Strickling stays on top of her assignments as she continues to improve her lifting game.

“I’m going to do this for as long as I can,” Toro-Strickling said. “I want to get as far as I can get in it.”