Raising the bar

Craig teen to take powerlifting skills to state level at Special Olympics Summer Games

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J'Lea Dalton lets her actions speak louder than her words.

J'Lea, pronounced Jay-Lee, is shy and relatively soft-spoken upon meeting new people, but get her around her mom, Bonnie, and the teen's smile radiates.

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"She's very outgoing and bubbly," Bonnie said affectionately. "She's willing to talk about any book or movie she's ever read or seen."

What J'Lea may not tell you is she is preparing to represent Craig in her 10th consecutive trip to the Special Olympics Summer Games, held Saturday and Sunday in Greeley.

But she does have some words about her goals.

"I am hoping to get first," J'Lea said shyly.

The 17-year-old Moffat County High School senior was one of four gold medal winners in the May 12 Western Area Summer Games in Craig.

Dalton won a gold medal in aquatics at last year's Summer Games, and this year has qualified for powerlifting, to be held at the University of Northern Colorado campus.

"When you get a gold, you really feel like you've accomplished something," she said.

"Being at the state games means there's more competition, and you get to meet new people and become friends."

Preparation is key

Powerlifting is not as simple as picking up something heavy. You have to prepare yourself.

"We go in, stretch and loosen our arms," J'Lea said. "Then they'll put a certain amount of weight to start. They start with one 25-pound weight on each side. One-hundred and twenty-five pounds is the most I have ever done."

Bonnie said her third of four children is excited for the upcoming games.

"She loves to try new sports and meet new coaches," Bonnie said.

After the two-day competition in Greeley, J'Lea will turn her attention to cycling and bowling, which are part of the fall season games.

"I like cycling more than bowling because it works my leg muscles," she said. "Plus, you have a small team and really get to know them. And there's not that much competition."

Drew Turner can be reached at 824-7031, ext 211, or aturner@craigdailypress.com

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