As if the pressure of lifting thousands of pounds is not enough, the Sam Houston State University powerlifting team now has the added weight of competing at their national competition in April.
Out of the 16 active members, four women and six men qualified for the competition in Miami, Florida. Vice president of the powerlifting team, Wes Blackmon, said that when you arrive at any competition, whether it is nationals or regionals, you have to weigh in to be put in a weight class. At nationals each team member will compete in their perspective weight class, where they will then decide how much weight to lift in each of the lift categories: bench press, dead lift and squat.
The starting weight to lift, or the “opener,” is an easier weight to lift, the second lift weight is usually the maximum weight, or the max out, for each exercise with the third lift weight being the most challenging, Blackmon said, because it is above what you normally do.
From each category, the best lift weight is taken and added together to reach a total. The best total in each weight classification wins.
Since this is his first national competition at the college level, Blackmon said when he came to Sam Houston that he was surprised that the college had a team.
“When I came to college I didn’t plan on competing, but I found out that there was a team here,” Blackmon said. “I enjoyed competing in high school and to be able to continue to up my weight total and compete in college is great.”
The team is young, and the current president of the powerlifting team, Justin Hagendorf, found out about the team when the founder approached him in the gym and encouraged him to join. Making nationals the past four years, Hagendorf said he also holds the bench press record for Texas, benching 290 at his 132 weight class.
Going to nationals involves getting past the regional competition as well as having the funding to go. To help pay for their competition, the team is hosting a mini powerlifting competition at SHSU.
The competition called “The Bearkat Bench Off” will be held this Wednesday at the HKC gym one and is open to all men and women at Sam Houston. The set-up for the competition will be a more relaxed version of what a powerlifting competition is like, Hagendorf said.
The competition will have two weight classes, light weight, under 200 pounds and heavy weight, over 200 pounds. Instead of competing in the normal categories that most power lifters compete in, bench press, dead lift and squat; participants will only compete against each other in bench press, Hagendorf said.
Anyone who is interested in competing needs to fill out a form at the HKC and pay a $5 entry fee. Hagendorf does have some advice for anyone who is in the competition.
“Make sure that you’re fresh and ready.” Hagendorf said. “I wouldn’t work out that much leading up to the competition and at least take the day before off on your workout routine. If you want to drop down to the lower weight class, if you’re just over 200 pounds, try to do some cardio each day to shed the extra few pounds.”
The time line for the competition is also a little relaxed. The weigh ins for contestants will begin around 5 p.m., so even if you could not stop by to sign up for the competition before hand, Hagendorf said anyone can come just before 5 p.m. to enter. At around 6 p.m., warm ups will begin and hopefully at 7 p.m. the competition will start, he said. The light weight class will go first, starting with the lightest person, to the heaviest person and then the heavy weight class will follow, progressing in the same order.
After the competition, there will be three winners announced, Hagendorf said. There will be a light weight and a heavy weight winner, as well as an overall winner that will be dubbed the title “strongest bearcat.”
The overall title will be decided Blackmon said by taking the body weight of the light and heavy weight winner and subtracting it from the best lift from each person.
The team is hoping to raise enough money to cut the costs of their trip to nationals, but Hagendorf and Blackmon also hope to let more people know about the team.
“It’s open to everybody and we really encourage anyone who’s interested in the sport to become a member,” Blackmon said. “Everyone has to start somewhere, so if you’re willing to make an effort to try and get better, it’s a great opportunity for you.”