There are no teammates to pass to. No ball to carry or strike with a bat, club, racket or foot.
Powerlifting’s isolating nature pits human want and technique against steel bars and plates designed to separate the strong from the especially strong. Therein lies both its charm and challenge.
Franklin Community High School is a novice in regard to competitive powerlifting, though it is now a player thanks strength and conditioning coach Jeremy Hartman.
He instructs and closely monitors the progress of eight female and four male students who display a passion for strength training that ventures beyond the norm.
“It was something I personally competed in, and we started off with a handful of kids who were extra dedicated. There are a few kids who stand out, and this is my way of giving back,” said Hartman, 31, a Cleveland native whose extensive powerlifting background is both as a competitor and instructor.
“I could have a lot more kids on my powerlifting team, but I don’t want to interfere with the spring sports that are going on.”
Powerlifting competitions combine one’s best squat, bench press and dead lift, with participants getting three attempts at each. Franklin’s impressive debut at last weekend’s Indiana Regional Meet in Bloomington included personal bests by all 12 Grizzly Cubs athletes and a total of 11 first-place performances.
The team’s female lifters are Kenna Cosner (16-17 division, 114 pounds), Mia Cano
(16-17, 123), Grace Kinsey (16-17, 165), Daisy May (14-15, 181), Shelby Miles (16-17, 165), Jennica Baldridge (14-15, 132), Brianna Baker (14-15, 114) and Maddie Powell (14-15, 132).
The Cubs’ male competitors are Cole Edwards (16-17 year old, 198 pounds), Austin Ramsey (16-17, 220), Connor Tolley (18-19, 242) and Pedro Briones (14-15, 181).
Tolley is a senior coming off an impressive high school wrestling career capped by a third-place finish at 220 pounds at the IHSAA State Finals in February. Ramsey’s preferred sport is football where he played on the defensive line for Franklin.
Both seniors share a passion for strength training and the benefits it brings.
“Powerlifting is good competition. It’s really about how much I can push my body and see how much I can lift,” said Ramsey, who is 5-foot-9, 210 pounds, but capable of deadlifting 530 pounds, squatting 451.5 and benching 315.
He knows with Hartman’s guidance those numbers in time will go up.
“I’m 17 years old and I want to see how much weight I can lift,” Ramsey said. “Coach Hartman is a very, very good coach. He was a very good powerlifter himself, and he has all of the cycles and programs to back him up.”
Miles was named top female lifter at the Bloomington competition after deadlifting 321 pounds. Tolley took honors among the boys after establishing a new school standard in the bench press of 330 pounds.
Tolley, who leaves in June for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said the additional time in the Franklin weigh troom is the ideal springboard to help get him where he needs to be to compete at the next level.
“Right now I’m still wrestling a little bit, but I’m trying to gain weight because I’m wrestling heavyweight in college. I’m close to 250 now, and weightlifting has been a big part of that,” Tolley said.
“Coach Hartman really knows what he’s doing. I love how hard he pushes us. He’s taking his time to make us better, and that means a lot to me. We are very fortunate to have him.”
Competitive powerlifting is unique in the sense that all eyes are on you.
“A few of my kids had some experience at local meets, so the kids were excited,” said Hartman of the Bloomington event. “It’s a little bit of excitement, a little bit of nervousness. Getting on a platform in front of three judges and two of the three have to agree it’s a good lift. It’s just you.”
“It is kind of a different pressure,” Ramsey added. “I don’t feel pressure when I’m about to lift, but going up there is definitely nerve-wracking.”