The personality modification Lindsey Raker goes through every time she walks into the Greenwood Community High School weight room remains as powerful as ever.

Raker has history here. Lots of it.

Only now the fruits of her labor aren’t merely between the walls of Raker’s alma mater. It’s in Atlanta; Lebanon, Illinois; Topeka, Kansas; Aurora, Colorado; or anywhere else McKendree University’s powerlifting team competes.

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Raker has proved to be one incredibly sturdy building block for an NCAA Division II program just starting out.

“Lindsey just knows how to flip the switch. She’s in that zone and become very good in that area,” said McKendree coach Andrew Rauen, who in April helped the Bearcats men’s and women’s programs conclude what were their inaugural seasons. “Her intensity (is) unparalleled.”

The work ethic and inner drive allowing Raker to secure a partial scholarship to McKendree is next on display some 1,400 miles northwest of Johnson County.

Lindsey Raker, Moose Jaw. Moose Jaw, Lindsey Raker.

The 19-year-old has been chosen to represent the United States in the 158-pound division at the 13th NAPF North American Regional Powerlifting Championships, from July 8 to 12, in the heart of Saskatchewan.

Team USA’s coach is former Northeastern University powerlifting coach Mike Zawilinski.

It was Zawiliniski who notified Raker of the selection about week after McKendree completed its season at the USA Collegiate Nationals in Atlanta in early April.

“I was very surprised, but I was very honored, and I knew it wasn’t given to me. It was definitely earned through all the hard work,” Raker said. “If it wasn’t for coach Rauen getting me to where I am now, I probably wouldn’t have been here. But (Brian) Smiley and my dad (Doug) had a lot to do with it, too.

“My dad’s a football coach here (at Greenwood), and Smiley is the school’s strength and conditioning coach. They’re the basics of it, to be honest.”

Standing 5-foot-1, Raker isn’t the most physically daunting athlete. But over the past 12 months she’s managed to increase her bench press from a best of 150 pounds to 180. Her deadlift maximum has jumped close to 100 pounds from 300 to just under 400.

These two lifts, along with the squat, are components of most powerlifting competitions.

Unlike other sports, competitive powerlifting is spread out — at least at the collegiate level.

McKendree, for instance, took part in five competitions — one in November, another in December, the third in February and two in April.

Strength gained by Raker since she arrived on the Lebanon, Illinois, campus 25 miles east of St. Louis, doesn’t simply apply to additional plates on whatever steel bar she’s attempting to hoist.

Raker has made significant strides academically, socially and, yes, athletically.

She knew barely a soul her first days at McKendree; now she’s on the verge of representing her country in an international competition taking place in Canada.

“I got there and didn’t know anyone except for my coach. I met him last year,” Raker said.

“We went to competitions, and I did fairly well. My grades were better than high school, and I made a lot of new friends. Overall, my whole freshman year went a lot better than I expected.”

Lindsey Raker pullout


Name: Lindsey Raker

Age: 19

Born: Greenwood

Family: Parents, Doug and Jill; sister, Nataley, 17; brothers, Cole, 14, Scott, 8, and Sjay, 2

High school: Greenwood (2014)

College: McKendree University

Major: Health and wellness

Favorite TV show: “Chicago Fire”

Favorite food: Mexican

Favorite movie: “The Blind Side”

Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts

Mike Beas is a sports writer for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at