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Stuart Johnson, Deseret Morning News
Michelle Glasgow is a champion weight lifter and ballroom dancer.

PROVO — Students at Provo High were filing out to the football bleachers, where they would attend the first assembly of the year. Class officers had organized a series of competitions that would take place in front of the entire student body.

The first competition was between a sophomore girl and a senior boy. The student body officers pulled back a tarp to reveal a barbell and a stack of weights on the ground.

"I was worried," Michelle Glasgow said. "I had just put lotion on and my hands were slipping."

It soon became apparent that Glasgow didn't have much to worry about. She demonstrated perfect form as she lifted each successive weight over her head. Her competitor dropped out of the competition as the weights grew heavier. Finally, Glasgow lifted the heaviest set of weights high as the student body cheered.

"She usually does better in competition with people watching," said Julie Glasgow, Michelle's mother.

It was only then that it was revealed that Glasgow had recently won the award for the best female lifter of the Pan American Sub 15 Weightlifting Championships.

On Aug. 19 in Colorado Springs, the 15-year-old Provo native outclassed her competition by lifting 135 kilograms (297 pounds) — 58 kilograms in the Snatch, 77 in the Clean and Jerk — in her 53-kilogram weight class, en route to winning the gold and solidifying her claim as the top-ranked lifter in the country for her age group.

With her father as her coach, Glasgow has risen to the top quickly since entering competition. In her first real competition in 2004, she qualified for the School Age National Championships.

In the summer of 2005, Glasgow lifted 115 kilograms (253 pounds) for a Utah Summer Games and state record, on her way to setting nine state records in her first time lifting at the competition. Earlier this summer she won the USA Weightlifting National Schoolage Championships for her age group.

"I had none of this in mind when we started training," said Scott Glasgow, Michelle's father.

A math professor at Brigham Young University and an Olympic lifter himself, Scott Glasgow and his family started working out together nearly four years ago to condition for Michelle's endeavors in track and soccer. They began lightly, doing only pull-ups. Soon Michelle started to exhibit extraordinary strength, and Scott started her on the weights.

"I looked on the Web, and she was lifting weights heavier than the state records," Scott said. "We told her we should put her name on some of those."

Just a short time later, Michelle Glasgow's name is atop those record charts. But while her efforts in the weight room have brought her the accolades, Glasgow strives to maintain a balance with other activities in her life.

"I think it (weight lifting) is kind of temporary," Glasgow said. "It's not going to be my life goal or anything. It's a fun thing to do ... until I start to go the other way and get worse."

In addition to her lifting prowess, Glasgow is an avid ballroom dancer. Currently, she is enrolled in two dance classes at Provo. She even took a summer dance class three days a week, taught by her father. Not surprisingly, the ballroom dance team integrated weight lifting into its training program.

"It's pretty odd," Glasgow said. "You think of ballroom dancers, and they're not really the weight-lifting type."

Glasgow also stays busy with church activities and maintaining her 4.0 grade point average.

"School hasn't gotten really hard for me yet," Glasgow said. "I think I'm balancing everything pretty well. Sometimes weightlifting and ballroom conflict. It's kind of hard when they do."

But the same traits that help Glasgow succeed in the weight room are key to her endeavors in school, and life in general.

"She's very organized with her time," Julie Glasgow said. "I think that's what brings success in her training and her school work. She's very efficient. When she's lifting, you can't go 20 minutes without seeing her take a (ballroom dance) step. She's dancing when she's supposed to be resting."

If things keep going the way they are, Glasgow will dance her way to the top of many more medal podiums — and surprise people along the way.

After the assembly at Provo High, there was more than one surprised spectator.

"Were those really weights?" a student asked in passing.

Glasgow just smiled: "Yeah, they were."