Rough start doesn’t stop PRC powerlifting

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 29, 2019

Unfortunately for Head Coach Christopher Penton and the PRC powerlifting team, the start of the season coincided with an outbreak of the flu.

This caused Penton to have to plug 12 holes left by sick lifters as the team went into regionals.

It was a young, inexperienced squad. Penton said that only two of the lifters had competed previously. That youthfulness ended up being an advantage and the team was able to place 2nd at regionals for the fourth year in a row.

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“Honestly of all the 2nd place finishes, I’m most proud of this one because we were plugging guys in,” Penton said.

In high school powerlifting there are 12 weight divisions ranging from 114 pounds up to the super heavy weight category for athletes over 308 pounds.

Lifters are responsible for correctly doing three lifts. A parallel squat, a pause bench press, and a deadlift.

The reason for the word “pause” being included is that each lift is done on a set of commands given by a judge. If a lifter were to un-rack a weight, lift the weight, or even put the bar back in the rack before being told to do so, then that attempt is scratched.

Each athlete has only three tries to do the lift correctly. If they fail to do so, they’re out of the meet.

Those aspects of lifting, the mind games and mental awareness necessary to be successful, are things Penton and the squad don’t work on until competition time is closing in.

“It’s hard to slow down, we’ve already done training to get strong and now we have to train our mind and have discipline,” Penton said.

“I do a practice meet and go over the commands and the guys have to go until they have a flawless squat and bench.”

Luckily for Penton and his athletes, the rules regarding the deadlift are slightly more lenient and because of that it’s easier to do correctly.

Going into the year with a young squad meant that mistakes were common at the early meets.

“Most scratches come with first squat,” Penton said.

“This year I was the most worried about those little things, the lack of focus and discipline.”

Powerlifting takes a lot of physical strength, but Penton said that the ability to control the mind and body is the key to success.

“Harnessing that strength, energy, adrenaline and controlling and using it when necessary and needed, in life that’s going to happen,” Penton said.

“Your emotions may be through the roof, but you have to calm and control yourself in a pressure situation.”

The team came together after those first meets, and by the time the five lifters who qualified for state were leaving for the meet, the team matured.

“I got to see the guys take a 7th grader in and teach him,” Penton said.

“As the season progressed they came together and rooted for each other.”

That progression left a strong impression on Penton, and because of that the expectations for next year are higher.

“We’ve had inexperienced squads before, and now we’ll have an experienced squad,” Penton said.

“Our goal is to take regionals and we want to bring eight or more to state.”