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River Falls senior JP Eaton competes in the squat competition at the 2013 USA Powerlifting High School National Competition in Denver earlier this month. Eaton went on to become the first varsity national champion from River Falls. <i>Submitted photos</i>

Lifters shine on national stage

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JP Eaton won a national championship at the boys' varsity level and McKenzie Curtis won a national title in the JV girls competition while eight members of the River Falls High School Powerlifting Club finished in the top five in their respective weight classes at the 2013 USA Powerlifting High School National Competition in Denver April 6-7.


Eaton, who won a JV national championship in 2011, lifted more than 70 kilograms (154.32 pounds) more than his nearest competitor to become the first varsity national champion n River Falls history, while Curtis broke the USAPL women's JV National Meet Record and the Women's American Record in the Teen I Division with a pull of 182 kilograms (401.24 pounds).

With his performance, Eaton earned himself a bid to qualify for the USAPL Sub Juniors National Team (Team USA), and will compete at the Sub Junior World Powerlifting Championships in Killeen, Texas Aug. 27-Sept. 1.

"We knew J.P. would be competitive, but we did not expect him to blow away the competition," River Falls' coach Steve Trudeau said.

After a 320 Kg (705.47 lbs.) squat, Eaton led the rest of the field by 37.5 Kg. His nearest competitor from Necedah matched him in the bench press with a successful 160 Kg. (352.74 lbs.) attempt, but Eaton hit all three of his attempts in the dead lift to finish at 277.5 Kg. (611.78 lbs.).

"JP will continue to pursue his lifting career at the post-secondary level, but convert to an Olympic Style lifter at the U.S. Olympic Education Center of Northern Michigan University in Marquette, Mich.," Trudeau noted.

Curtis became the first individual from River Falls to officially set a new national record on her way to winning her JV (grades 9-10) national title.

"We knew McKenzie had the ability to make the record pull going into the meet, but we decided before the meet she would only take an attempt at the record if she had the meet won with her second deadlift," Trudeau said. "After all, at the end of the day the most important goal was to win the meet. With a 77.5 Kg (170.85 lbs.) lead after the second dead lift, we knew she had won the meet and gave her the go ahead on the national record attempt."

In addition to Eaton and Curtis' national titles, Ann Brettingen finished second in her varsity weight class to earn herself a bid for the USAPL Sub Juniors National Team (Team USA) at the Sub Junior World Powerlifting Championships in Killeen, Texas Aug. 27- Sept. 1.

"There was a lot of jockeying for positioning in the dead lift, but we knew if Anna pulled her last dead lift she would secure a top two position," Trudeau said. "Her final dead lift of 140 kg (308.64 l.), was one of pure determination and grit. I thought it was over after the first 6 inches off the ground, but it just kept going up."

Other highlights from the meet included Natasha Dusek with a third place varsity finish, Mark Miller with a third place JV finish. Cecily Ripley took fourth in her varsity weight class and Leah Morrow took fifth at the varsity level while Riley Tschumper placed fifth in his JV weight class.

"It would have been great to see senior Jordan Kaiser get the recognition he deserves at the national level for his lifting ability," Trudeau sad. "Unfortunately, his career has been riddled with injury and misfortune. It is the dedication to this sport that he demonstrates day in and day out that exemplifies what it means to be a River Falls High School powerlifter."

Since its inception in 2008, the River Falls Powerlifting Club has produced a boys state championship team (2010), a girls state championship team (2011), two individual state champions, two JV national champions, one varsity national champion, and had a positive influence on over 100 RFHS athletes.

"When this program was started five years ago, I never thought we would get to this level of competition so quickly," Trudeau said. "The fact that the team has accomplished these goals so quickly speaks volumes to the quality of athletes, families and sponsors that work with the River Falls Powerlifting Club."

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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