It might be the sport Elkhorn Area High School is best at right now, but it’s also the sport likely least talked about.
Elkhorn’s powerlifting team doesn’t compete at the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association level, and as a result, may sometimes get overlooked.
But with a growing base of younger lifters, team numbers went up to 52 lifters this year – 16 of which qualifiers for the Wisconsin High School Powerlifting Association State Championships, held March 4 and 5 in Appleton.
Head coach Chad Stoltz, in his fourth year at the helm, saw his program start with just four lifters four years ago – one of which, Marianna Axtman, made it to state this year as a senior.
“They totally bust their butts,” Stoltz said. “They’re really competing against themselves. They have the number that will get them to the state tournament … but once they get there, they’re competing against themselves.”
Lifters get three attempts each at a bench press, dead lift and squat. Powerlifters have to think strategically with those lifts, if they start too low, they won’t get a competitive number but starting too high could mean no registered lift.
Leading the Elks at the state competition was junior Jessica Haggerty, who won the 114-pound weight class. She set three records along the way – the WHSPA state squad record at 120 kilograms (all measurements are done in kg), an American record for bench press at 72 kg and an overall state record for weight lifted at 319.5 kg.
“She’s such a tough lifter, who’s not afraid to put the time in,” Stoltz said.
Haggerty has bigger aspirations. She will compete nationals at the end of the month at the USA Powerlifting High School Nationals in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. From there, she hopes to start on a road to represent the United States internationally.
Haggerty wasn’t the only one having a big weekend, though, as three other lifters came through to score points for Elkhorn.
Addie Griffiths took fourth in the girls heavyweight division.
“Just constant improvements throughout the year for her,” Stoltz said. “She just continued to work at it throughout the year.”
Aiden Olsen, meanwhile, finished fifth in the boys heavyweight division.
For the full story, please see the print edition of the Elkhorn Independent.