The 2016-2017 powerlifting season began in November like nearly every other season of the past decade: with the majority of the students attending tryouts to make their mark in Woodward Academy’s most accomplished sport. The history of Woodward Academy powerlifting goes back to 2003 when it was simply an organized extracurricular activity. Today, the team annually travels to the USAPL High School National Championships that rotates venues every year. To date, Woodward Academy teams have traveled across the United States and lifted in eight different states.
After a couple months of training, the team competed at their first sanctioned meet of the season at the Des Moines Invitational. All nine lifters who competed at the event qualified for Nationals during that meet. In order to compete at Nationals, all lifters must qualify, meaning they must lift the designated amount for their weight class in a sanctioned event. Their second meet of the second was held at Peru State in Nebraska, which allowed for the lifters to get good competition repetitions, but it was a non-sanctioned event. The final event prior to Nationals was the Woodward Academy Open, the Knights home meet in March. During that meet, 6 additional lifters qualified forNationals, bringing the team total to 15 lifters.
Everything centers around the team competition for the Knights, and at Nationals a team consists of 10 lifters who were selected from the pool of 15 qualifiers. The Knights had won the Nationals team competition since 2006 when they competed in Omaha, Nebraska, and this group of lifters looked to continue that streak. On March 29, the team boarded a plane for Scranton, Pennsylvania, this year’s home of the USAPL High School National Championships. After a day of rest, the team competed
on March 31.
The competition was solid this year and the results of many weight classes came down to a couple key lifts. For Victor Abarca in the 114 pound weight class, this was his first time competing in front of a large audience. As one of the better lifters on the team, injury sidelined him for much of the season and he only qualified a few weeks before Nationals. After a rough start to the day, he rebounded and performed well in the benchpress and deadlift and finished third. Mike Nichols (132 lbs.) fought back as well from a difficult start to finish in second. Although he just missed becoming a National Champion, he broke two school records in the 132 pound weight class this season.
The most consistent lifter of the day was Lenny Villalobos (148 lbs.) who went 9 for 9 on his lifts, including a new personal record on his deadlift. Performing well in the last event of the day was a theme as five of the ten WA lifters scored a new personal deadlift record at Nationals. Head Coach Glen Miller saw one of the most impressive performances come from Dustin Pierson in the 198 pound weight class. This was arguably the most competitive weight class and Dustin’s grit was on full display. His final deadlift attempt took an elongated 12 seconds, was a personal record for Dustin, and moved him from 6th to 4th place, which earned key points for the team competition. But just as there are victories in competition, there is also heartache. Michael Ballin-Skelton (SHW) lifted well all day. His back-and-forth rival in the competition had the final lift of the day, which allowed him to tie Michael in total weight. Per competition regulations, the tiebreak goes to the lighter lifter, giving Michael a second place finish.
At the end of competition, the Knights scored 4 second place finishes, 3 third place, 2 fourth, and 1 sixth place finish. The team ended with 79 total team points, more than a year ago, and enough for a 12th consecutive USAPL High School National Championship. Next year’s team will travel to Wisconsin to defend their title.GO KNIGHTS!