Mona Shores High School athlete is breaking the mold

Grace VanArendonk is a competitive cheerleader who also happens to deadlift 305 pounds.

"Early on when she’d come up with an idea, our immediate reaction was OK, we’ll see," said Scott VanArendonk, a proud Mona Shores parent. "But we’ve learned when she sets her sights on something to just get out of the way."

His daughter, Grace, is a senior at Mona Shores High School. She’s very active.

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"I do sidelines cheer, competitive cheer and power lifting," said the 18-year-old senior.

Not only does Grace powerlift, she sets records and holds titles.

"She has grit in spades," said her father.

Grace says the reach from competitive cheer to powerlifting isn't far.

"In 8th grade there was a kid in my class who was like 'are cheerleaders strong?'," said Grace. "He came over to me and was like 'flex' I was like ok… then he said he thought I was pretty strong."

Then in 9th grade, an upper classmen convinced Grace to give powerlifting a try.

"I had no idea what I was doing," said Grace, "So I changed my form for a lot of my lifts and the next season I gained, like, 100lbs on my lifts."

To give you perspective on just how strong Grace is, she bench presses 115lbs, back squats 195lbs and deadlifts 305lbs.

The 305 pound deadlift came at the state meet last year.

"The girl right before me changed her deadlift to 300," said Grace. "She broke the record, then I broke her record."

In addition to her lifting accolades, and her cheerleading team's recent district championship, she also does very well in school. She has a 3.994 GPA which she wishes was a 4.0.

"It's so close," said Grace.

Grace is happy more females are taking interest in powerlifting.

"I know a lot of girls are timid to do it, because it’s known as a masculine sport," said Grace, "But it’s so fun. Mentally, it makes you so strong. I can always do more, so like, if I can, I should just go do it."

Grace was one of 14 Michigan student athletes to win the Class A Scholar-Athlete Scholarship. She also recently received a national scholarship sending her to Western Michigan University next fall. She plans on joining the army to become a nurse.

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Her cheer team competes in the state finals this weekend at the DeltaPlex. Following the cheer state finals, she'll hang up her pom pom's for a week and compete in the powerlifting state finals where she hopes to break her own records set last year.

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