Buchanan is in position to win a state title in girls weightlifting for the Bulldogs in 2018.
Before every meet, she hears them.
Every time she powders her hands with the snow white chalk; every time she grips the cold metal bar and lifts for her life; every time she wipes the sweat from her brow and feels her screaming muscles, she can still hear their taunts.
Fat. Ugly. Worthless.
The words, the memories, constantly flash through her mind. She sees her tormentors' faces, their spite, their doubt.
Lexi Buchanan’s elementary and middle school years were marred by merciless teasing and bullying from her peers.
But Buchanan, who is on the girls weightlifting team at Flagler Palm Coast High School, doesn’t let her past haunt her. It fuels her.
“I always came home crying and in tears. I was always wondering why kids had to be so mean,” Buchanan said. “But I’m really happy they put me through that. Shout out to all the people who bullied me. If it weren’t for you all, I wouldn’t be here doing what I do. I wouldn’t be out here being the beast that I am.”
Buchanan is strong. Really strong. Like, as-strong-or-stronger-than-most-men strong.
Lifting in the unlimited weight class for the Bulldogs, Buchanan bench presses 240 pounds and clean-and-jerks 195 pounds — as a sophomore.
She was introduced to the sport her freshman year at FPC and was instantly smitten. But more so than finding a passion for competition, she found the love and acceptance of a team: a team that embraced who Buchanan was inside and out.
“They loved how much I weighed,” she said of her teammates. “The coach loved how I was the only unlimited and how I was able to work hard and put all of my emotions and everything into this sport. Now, this is like my second family. They always support me. If I’m upset or if I’m in pain, they make sure that they’re there for me. I can be in tears and they’ll still be there. I’m just glad I have teammates that are like family because if it weren’t for them and their support, I would be by myself.”
However, Buchanan was limited for much of last season after dropping the bar on her knee after a mishandled lift at the regional meet. Nothing tore, but she suffered nerve damage. The rehabilitation process spanned over four months. She was limited to mostly upper body workouts and had to drop down to 70 pounds for the clean-and-jerk.
She has since fully healed, and although she didn’t get to experience postseason success in her first year, she’s ready to take the next step in 2018: She has her eyes set firmly on a state title.
“I’m going to push myself harder. I’m going to have to go even further than I already have,” Buchanan said. “ I’m coming home with that state championship and with that ring on my finger.
“I’m going to come for the people ahead of me. I’m going to work, get to your weight and do what I got to do to get ahead.”