“I wasn’t doing that good,” recalled Madison Bonney of the time that she first sat down to talk about her efforts in weight-lifting. One must take that recollection with a grain of salt though, as that evaluation pertained to an eighth grade girl in the North Central Schools. Now, as a high school freshman, she is all of a year older, admittedly not a huge change. Her skill and expertise levels have, however, far outpaced her chronological levels, getting the full attention of the competition, and breaking a pair of state records along the way. Had it not been for her parents, Dan and Shawne Bonney, and a distaste for volleyball, Madison might be just another face in the crowd.
“In seventh grade, I didn’t like volleyball,” she explained. “It wasn’t that I didn’t like it that much, it was just that I didn’t want to do it next year. My parents said, ‘If you’re not going to do volleyball, then you’re going to have to come out to the gym with us.’” There was no free pass for the daughter of the owners of Main Line Fitness and Training LLC, just south of Holiday City on State Route 15. “They kind of like forced me,” she said with a little smile. Once there, Madison was none too thrilled at the outset…but that changed in a big way.
“I was doing CrossFit. My parents would always lap me, and I didn’t like it,” she said. It was then that she started working with the bars, and she spent more and more time there. “I wanted to do more bar work, and my dad found that I was good at it, so he got me a coach out of Detroit. I’ve just improved since. I’ve been training heavily for five months, and I improved a lot…then I broke the records.” Those records fell to her on October 25.
The records that now have Madison’s name on them are for her age group in the snatch, clean and jerk, and total weight, in both Ohio AND Michigan. The numbers do not lie…55 kilos in the snatch, 68 kilos in the clean and jerk, and 124 kilos total. Notice that I said kilos…as in kilograms. A kilogram is the metric equivalent of 2.2 pounds. If you do the math, that pans out to 121 pounds in the snatch, almost 150 in the clean and jerk, and nearly 273 total. This is pretty impressive and heady stuff for a cute, quiet high school girl that is still a year away from getting a driver’s permit.
The improvements have not only appeared in Madison’s moving of the heavy metal, it has shown in her confidence levels as well. “I remember competitions where I was so nervous and worked up that I’d go out and fail my first lift. Now I can go out and do my first lift, and use my nerves for confidence.” In competitions, the proven heavy lifters are usually found at the bottom of the batting order. This too has changed for Madison over a brief period of time. “When I first started, I was usually at the top. About five months ago, I was in the middle. In the last competition, I was second to last.”
Madison is by no means resting upon her laurels. In fact her training will be playing a dual role in the upcoming months. Her schedule, as she describes it, includes, “…going from school, straight to basketball practice, and from there to the gym. I still put in around two to two and a half hours of training…per day.” Let that serve as a notice to all the BBC opposition on the hardwood this season. The Lady Eagles’ JV team will feature a paint pounder that will not be easily boxed out or pushed around…and she’s just a freshman! “I’ve gotten stronger, and now I can jump higher. I’m healthier, so I can get down the court faster, and I’m stronger to post up.”
Ultimately, Madison wants to represent more than just North Central High School, the Village of Pioneer, or Williams County in competition; she wants to represent the United States as an Olympic athlete. Her coach, Matt Adamcheck of 4 Star Strength and Conditioning is pushing her toward that goal. “He already has me planned on going to the Olympics in 2019…that’s when I graduate!”
Although she is a long way from needing to make a career educational decision, Madison is leaning toward a career in physical therapy, with a dual focus of being able to help the elderly recover from injury, as well as wanting to work with rehabbing athletes who are coming off injuries.
The preparations for the long-term future are still years in the offing. In the meantime, Madison is enjoying the life of a high school girl with a special gift, which in itself can be entertaining…especially in the area of dealing with the male egos of some of her classmates. “The guys say that they can lift more than me, but I don’t think that they can,” Madison said with a wry smile. “They say, ‘Oh, I can do what you do,’ and I just say, ‘Yeah…okay. We’ll see.’” Has anyone of them stepped up to challenge her? With a laugh, Madison said, “No!”
Guard well those egos, guys. When it comes to moving a mountain of metal…don’t mess with Madison!
Timothy Kays can be reached at