Powerlifting Club Raises the Bar

A group picture of the NPPC at the end of the meet. Photo by Matt Nash.

 Spectacles of strength, endurance and willpower portrayed by athletes varying in age and size will draw in a compelled and interested audience just as diverse. 

Some came to witness incredible powerlifters they have never met, and some came to encourage their friends and family in the competition. Regardless of who they were, Gardiner Athletics in Gardiner was packed with athletes and spectators at the USA Powerlifting (USAPL) Spring Forward Championship competition on March 11, 2017. The meet was MC’d by Geno Biancheri, a colorful and engaging character who has been touted as the face of USAPL. 

Each competitor must achieve three main lifts in their respective weight classes. These lifts include squat, bench and deadlift. In order to pass at all three attempts in all three lifts, the athlete must receive three white lights from each of the judges. Two white lights and a red still pass those competing, but many of the athletes join the competition in hopes to go nine for nine. 

The SUNY New Paltz Powerlifting Club was representing the college with over 10 of their own trained powerlifters. Club co-founder Forrest Schaffer, trainer Tressa Rhodes and trainer Zak Walizadeh were present in solid footing to support their athletes. In a previous article in The Oracle Eddie de Ramon, Tetsuya Kawakita and Jake Cherubini described their training and development as powerlifters in a profile published in the March 9 Issue. 

At his very first meet, with his nine-for-nine lifts totaling 575.0 kg, de Ramon clinched the gold in the Male Junior 20-23 age range 83 kg Weight Class, third division. Cherubini placed second with 550 kg of total weight lifted. Cherubini had attempted to pass de Ramon in weight in an unbelievable personal record (PR) attempt of a deadlift 13.6 kg over his maximum pull weight (247.2 kg) but failed after a tremendous effort. Kawakita, with a total weight of 515.0 kg, placed fourth just behind competitor Konstantino Akoumiankis who placed third just below Cherubini with 549 kg. The winner of the competition as a whole was David Woo, with a striking total weight of 707 kg; Woo’s most impressive lift was a deadlift of 290 kg.

“I could not have asked for better competition, we were neck and neck, me and Jake,” de Ramon said. “All of the support from our friends and family has made this competition fun and rewarding. There has been an incredible amount of support from Tress, Zak and Forest throughout this entire process.”

At the start of the meet, de Ramon, Kawakita and Cherubini, alongside their fellow NPPC members, were naturally feeling the full array of emotions one would experience at a meet: nerves, adrenaline, excitement and, most importantly, hunger for victory.

“It is amazing to see how everyone has grown in their training,” Schaffer said. “On the platform is where they show their progress.”

Notable professional athletes who competed in and attended the event included Jonathon Marshall, a world class powerlifting champion having won 11 national titles and 4 world championships. Marshall placed second behind Woo with a total weight of 652.5 kg.

“The idea is that for anyone’s first, second or fifth meet, they will come out with a new experience and a catalyst to improving their strength,” Walizadeh said. “Meets are intense, but also very much about having fun and learning.”

Copy editor Chris Sumano contributed reporting.