Danielle “Dani” Kurr, a junior at Burnsville High School, has had quite a year in the weight room.
On May 2, USA Weightlifting (USAW) named Dani the strongest high school athlete in her weight class in America, based on results from a USAW contest. The organization also announced Burnsville High School the strongest high school in Minnesota and runner-up to the strongest high school in the nation.
Dani began the weightlifting season by setting a new women's strength record at the school with a back squat of 225 lbs. She opened the Olympic Weightlifting season with a second place finish at the North Metro High School Open at Armstrong High School and followed up with a second place finish at the Raider High School Open at Northfield High School. Unsatisfied with finishing second, Dani decided to place her training emphasis on winning a state championship in March.
Dani found herself to be the strongest she had ever been and she was poised and prepared for the familiar opponents that had previously kept her just one step from the top. After completing her first two attempts, Dani was positioned to take second place. However, a window of opportunity opened when the leader missed on her third attempt.
Coach Justin Lerfald said, "I leaned over to Dani and said, ‘Let's go for it. I know it’s more than you've ever done, but you have second locked up. Go for it, I know you can do it.’"
Dani’s third attempt was 71 kilos (156 lbs), 6 kilos (13 lbs) above her second, and more than she had ever done.
"She absolutely nailed it,” said Lerfald. “Her teammates and coaches were going crazy." Dani was crowned state champion.
In April, Lerfald encouraged Dani to enter the USA Weightlifting (USAW) contest to determine the strongest high school athlete in America. The contest consisted of sending a video of a max attempt on three movements: the clean, back squat and bench press.
Then came the USAW announcement naming Dani the nation’s strongest high school athlete in her class.
“I am so proud of these lifters. This has been an incredible year, with some truly amazing kids,” said Lerfald.
Dani received a trophy and an invitation to attend a summer camp hosted by USAW.
"This year's weightlifting season was one of my favorite seasons I've had in any sport,” said Dani. “As for my teammates and coaches, I love them all so much! I'm grateful to be pushed and encouraged every single day by my teammates and coaches.
Dani added, “They are the best family an athlete could ask for."