The YMCA of Clay County hosted its first nationally-sanctioned powerlifting competitions on Nov. 23.
Son Light Powerlifting Federal conducted the meet under the direction of Chairman Daryl Latch, Tuscola, Ill. Peggy Berry, a local attorney and national champion powerlifter, organized the meet on behalf of the YMCA.
The first meet consisted of a bench press and deadlift competition.
"The turnout was small, but the quality of the lifters were outstanding," Berry said. "We had lifters ranging in age from 19 to 52 and weight classes from the 148-pound class to the 308-pound class."
Lifters competed in 12 different weight and age categories in the bench press portion of the competition. In the bench press, each lifter is allowed three separate attempts. The lifter determines each attempt. The lifter can ask for progressively more weight to be added to the bar for each attempt, but cannot ask for the amount of weight to be lowered if he or she misses the attempt.
A lifter must make at least one clean attempt out of three to remain eligible for placing in the competition and to avoid the dreaded "bombout" (missing all three attempts).
Powerlifting rules require the lifter to avoid movement of the feet during the attempt and to keep the lifter's posterior and head in contact with the bench at all times during the lift. The lifter cannot bounce the far off the chest and must wait for the referee's signal to press the bar upwards and to put the bar back on the bench at the completion of the lift. The bar must remain steady in its progression to the top and cannot dip at any time on the way up. All of the rules are designed to make the lifter demonstrate control over the weight. The lifter's heaviest clean attempt of the three determines his or her placing.
On Nov. 23, the bench press competition's best lifter was Rob Marshall, Warsaw, Ind., who benched 620 pounds in the open men's 308-pound class.
Two local lifters fared well in the bench press competition. Aaron Parkins , Brazil, won the teenage (18-19-year-old) class with a bench of 395 pounds.
This was Parkins' first competition.
"Aaron has tremendous potential," Berry said. "He can easily become the next star on the powerlifting scene -- and I mean the national scene -- if he will stick with his training, stay healthy and listen to people life Tom McCullough."
McCullough, a local, multi-national powerlifting champion, help train Parkins.
Aaron lifted without the assistance of tight bench press shirts that can add 100 pounds to a lifter's best lift, if the shirt is fitted properly.
Berry won the Master Women's (age 50-54) class with a bench of 175 pounds.
"That's off my personal best, but considering I have not trained like I should have this past summer, I will take it and look forward to breaking my record in the next meet," she said.
Deadlifters are also allowed three attempts. Again, the heaviest clean attempt determines placing.
Three weight and age classes were contested in the deadlift competition.
Randy Bee, Belleville, Ill., won the 275-pound Open Men's class with the deadlift of 625 pounds.
Michael Coe, Indianapolis, was named the best deadlifter with a lift of 575 pounds. Coe competed in the 198-pound Open men's class.
Rules for the deadlift are relatively simple, Berry said. The bar is loaded with the requested weight while resting on the floor. The lifter squats down, grabs the bar with both hands and stands straight up with it. Unlike Olympic lifting, the bar is not pressed over the head or even pulled upward to the chest. The deadlifter stops when the bar is pulled thigh-high and his or her arms are holding the bar with the arms fully extended at the lifter's sides.
The referee signals the completion of the lift by directing the lifter to return the bar to the floor. The rules require the bar to ascend steadily with no dips. The lifter cannot drop the bar on the floor, but must control it on the way down.
The YMCA will host another meeting on Feb. 23. Berry hopes more local people will participate and encourages high schools to form teams.
"We want to get local high schools competing," she said. "The sport provides a chance for individuals to represent their schools who can't or don't compete with the school's other teams and is an excellent way for those students already involved in other sports to get into condition. Strength training is just a must anymore if high schools want to be competitive in their established sports programs. Powerlifting is for everybody -- young, old, male, female -- athlete or not. And, besides, it's a lot of fun."
Berry encourages anyone who is interested in the sport to contact the YMCA.