Lewis Griswold

Lew Griswold: Visalia woman powerlifts to medal, world record

Mikella Ausherman, 21, of Visalia set a world record last month at the World Powerlifting Congress championships in Las Vegas.

Competing in the 132- pound weight class, she lifted a 355-pound barbell in the deadlift competition to take the first-place medal. Deadlift involves squatting to grab the barbell off the floor and then standing erect with the weight.

The Fresno State student took up the sport only this year and got to Las Vegas almost unexpectedly.

"I actually didn't even train for it," she said. "I just kind of went in there and did my thing and it kind of worked out."

Ausherman is employed as a personal trainer at the In-Shape gym in Visalia on Demaree Street. A few months ago, a customer saw her do 10 pull-ups in a row and put a bug in her ear about powerlifting.

"He said 'you should consider getting into this. You're really strong,' " Ausherman said.

She knows her way around the weight room because she has participated in bodybuilding competitions. Power lifting seemed like a good fit because of her upper body strength.

"I have a strong back," Ausherman said.

In October in San Luis Obispo, she set a state record in the bench press with 150 pounds. That win gave her the right to compete in Las Vegas, where people from around the world came to lift. She wants to go back next year.

"It was very, very fun," Ausherman said. "You just have to be strong."

KAWEAH OAKS: Sequoia Riverlands Trust learned last week that it's getting $410,181 from the state Natural Resources Agency to buy riparian habitat next to the Kaweah Oaks Preserve east of Visalia.

The Proposition 84 funds will help the conservation group buy about 22 acres that includes a half-mile of creek frontage along Deep Creek. Prop. 84 is a $5.4 billion state bond program to fund natural resources protection, flood control, parks and other efforts. The goal is to keep development from getting too close to the preserve.

SIDEWALKS: Visalia resident Bill Huott's latest cause is asking the city to put in sidewalks on the south side of Houston Avenue between Dinuba Boulevard and Santa Fe Street.

The advocate for north-side improvements wrote a letter to "respectfully request" that the city spend Measure R local sales-tax money on sidewalks because the busy street is in a low-income area and gets a lot of pedestrian use.

Huott is an effective advocate, but other parts of town have needs, too, Mayor Amy Shuklian said.

Chris Young, the city's community development director and city engineer, noted that the city put in sidewalks on Houston Avenue's north side two years ago. Putting them on the south side is a complex project because the city does not own the right of way, and power poles are in the way.

But the city will analyze Huott's proposal, he said.