Look at Michelle Gorksi and the last description that comes to mind is "The Hulk." The Ridgewood senior is petite, bubbly, innocent -- and strong.
"I get a little chuckle here and there," she said. "They'll be like, 'You weight lift?' and I'm like, 'Yeah, actually I do.'"
She is tiny, but mighty. At just 96 pounds, she weighs LESS than some of the weights in the gym but can still power up the pounds.
"She actually holds a power lifting record of almost over 200 pounds dead lift," said her coach, J.D. Baker. "She should be doing an exercise video. 'Muscles by Michelle' or something."
Gorski didn't intend to lift weights. Older friends invited her to come out for weight lifting. She, somewhat reluctantly, went and immediately was hooked.
"I loved it from day one," she said. "It was hard, but I really loved it."
It got easier with practice. Baker said his pupil would show up for lifting sessions at 6:30 in the morning before school and during the Christmas break from school. Her dedication landed her in the FHSAA state championship meet this past weekend, where she finished tenth out of 30 girls in the 101-pound weight class.
"She was like a natural when she first came in," said Baker, who has coached the weightlifting team for the past two years. "Once the form came, the weight came, and that's the (origins of) the nickname."
Gorski doesn't look like "The Hulk," the comic book character that grows to an incredible, muscular size when he gets agitated. At 4-foot-10, she isn't going to be confused with a giant either. She's just a hard working girl with a never-give-up attitude and an oxymoron nickname.
That's what makes The Hulk so great.
"I just try to tell myself everyday that I can do it," she said.
"I think she has something special," said Baker. "She's just a special kid. She's fourth in her class academically. She's a 4.2 (GPA). She takes classes at PHCC. She hurdles in track. I mean, the hurdles are taller than she is. She's special."
At the state meet in Kissimmee, she lifted a combined 215 pounds in the bench press and clean & jerk. Every lift proved those who judge her strength by her statue alone, dead wrong.
"I think I'm pretty strong, definitely," she said.
Stronger than the boys?