Power surge: Markey, Bond crowned national champs
River Falls High School Powerlifting Club head coach Jeremy Carlson had high expectations for the 14 lifters the club sent to the USA Powerlifting High School Nationals in Appleton March 22-25.
They didn't disappoint.
Twelve of the 14 competitors placed in their respective weight classes, six finished in the top three, and two—Hailee Markey and Jack Bond—became national champions.
"We went in with really high expectations for a lot of our kids and they exceeded those expectations," Carlson said. "It was great to see the kids' hard work all year reap rewards."
This year's meet was the largest high school powerlifting event in national championship history, with 618 lifters from 24 states competing over four days at the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton. Athletes competed in weight classes and were evaluated based on three attempts on three different lifts—the squat, the bench press and the dead lift—with the total weight determining placing.
Markey, a two-time Wisconsin state champion, won the national title in the female 84-plus kilogram weight class by lifting a total weight of 430 kilograms.
Carlson said Markey is a perfect example of what the club embodies.
"Not only does she go out and win, she's in the back dancing and encouraging the others," he noted. "The attitude she has is so positive and she's always pushing herself and that trickles down to the other kids. It's nice to have someone on the team to point to and say, that's what you can do if you work hard."
Bond led a River Falls sweep of the top three spots in the male 66 kilogram weight class by lifting a total of 380 kilograms. Logan Zyduck placed second with 375 and Adam Myszewski was third with 355.
"To go one-two-three with the boys was impressive," Carlson said. "Just to see them pushing each other and encouraging each other. Those three are good friends and lifting together all season and pushing each other has made each one of them better."
Carlson said he was also impressed with freshman Kyla Kubera, who finished as national runner-up in the female 52 kilogram weight class in her first year of powerlifting.
"We were hoping to get Kyla on the podium and she exceeded those expectations," he said.
Dylan Daly-Schreiner also earned a top three finish in the male 53 kilogram division while Jerric Blaire placed eighth in the male 59 kilogram weigh class. Coryn Davidson (female 84 kgs.), Eli Froemming (male 120) and Kevin Karras (male 120-plus) all finished ninth and Elly Bjork (female 63) was 12th while Cora Bibeau (female 84-plus) finished 14th.
Carlson, a Meyer Middle School social studies teacher who is in his first year as head coach, said the club had 77 lifters in grades 7-12, the most in its 10-year existence. He said he and assistant coaches Ray Curtis, Ulice Payne, Jaden Maas and Courtney Johnson challenged the kids from the start, and they responded.
"They've had success in the past and been a really good club," he said. "But we made a lot of changes this season for the betterment of the kids. And with those changes came some push back. It was more challenging and more demanding. The kids that really embraced it and had a good attitude are the kids that saw a lot of success."
Carlson said the coolest thing about the club is its members aren't necessarily the runners and jumpers and elite athletes.
"But they can do this and find success," he noted. "You see their faces when they step off the podium the first time and you see what it does for them. It doesn't matter what weight you are or how fast you are. You can do this and feel good about yourself."
Carlson said the student-athletes go out of their way to support each other.
"We really push that character stuff, just like at the middle school," he said. "It's a lot more of a family feel than most sports that I've coached."
The club will now focus on hosting the annual River Falls Days Bench Press Competition in July.