On March 3rd and 4th, the 2023 State High School Powerlifting Championship was held in Appleton Wisconsin, at the Fox Cities Exhibition Center. Allan “Chip” Thompson, Head Powerlifting coach at Tomah High School, reported that there was a total of 19 powerlifters from their program that qualified to lift at the elite competition, in Appleton. When the exhaustive effort reached its finality, four lifters from Tomah stood tall at the podium, which requires placing in the top five of a weight class.
In the competition, there are four divisions: Female Raw and Female Equipped and Male Raw and Male Equipped. Raw simply means that no lift-enhancing equipment is being utilized by the competitors. Equipped indicates that something was used to aid the lifter, thus promoting a higher score. Items in this category that may aid the competitor include squat and deadlift suits, bench press shirts and knee wraps. “Roughly 90 to 95 percent of the high school competitors lift in the Raw Division now,” said Coach Chip Thompson. “We have two sayings that stand strong with our group. One is, ‘Maximum effort.’ The other is a more common one around gyms, ‘No pain no gain.’ Our lifters do not just say the words; they live by them.”
The podium placers for the Tomah High School Powerlifting team all competed in the Raw category. There were three female top finishers, and one male top finisher.
Libby Dahl took 2nd place, in the 132 lb. wight class. She squatted 232 pounds, bench pressed 138 ponds, and deadlifted 303 pounds, for a total score of 673 pounds. Dahl has been lifting for 4 years now. When pressed on how she got into powerlifting, Dahl told the Herald, “I’d have to say peer pressure from several of my closest friends is what brought me into powerlifting. I wasn’t going to be on the team because it didn’t sound interesting or fun. I ran into Coach Krause, who is a family friend, in our local grocery store. He asked me if I would be joining powerlifting with his daughter. I said yes, so I was essentially forced to show up. I got to the first day of practice and was so scared that I hid behind my friends almost the entire time. They decided that practice wasn’t horrible, so I felt like I had to go back to practice with them. I just kept showing up and realized that I wasn’t horrible at lifting weights. Eventually I started to like lifting and began looking forward to working out.”
Dahl is a senior, and had this to say, about being done, at the high school level. “The part I will miss the most is talking to my teammates about their goals. One of my favorite parts of the day is catching up with people on the team, to see how they are doing. Seeing their faces light up when they talk about their new Personal Record (PR) is one of the best feelings. I’ll miss cheering for everyone at meets and seeing their progress in person, not just in numbers.”
Dahl looks back fondly on her time in the program. “I would like to acknowledge all of the first-year lifters for staying consistent and showing up to the gym. Trying something new, or being in a new environment, is never easy. I also thank the Senior girls on the team, for keeping me accountable and consistent, throughout all 4 years. I am especially thankful for my close friend Angie, for pushing me to work harder, in and out of practice. Lastly, I would like to thank my parents for supporting me because without their support and encouragement, my powerlifting career would have ended years ago.” On her future plans, Dahl says, “I plan to attend North Central University in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They will be renovating their gym and have expressed interest in starting a powerlifting team.”
Angelina Salvino placed 5th, in the 165 lb. weight class. Salvino squatted 259 pounds, bench pressed 149 pounds, and deadlifted 314 pounds, for a total score of 722 pounds. On what brought her into powerlifting, Salvino said, “I was drawn into powerlifting by the idea of becoming strong and having something to do with some of my close friends.”
Salvino is also a senior and had this to tell the Herald. “I will mostly miss my teammates. The people on this team have essentially become a part of my family and they will always hold a special place in my heart. It was the most rewarding experience to be there, when my lifelong friend, Libby Dahl took 2nd in State. I will miss competing and practicing with her.”
Looking back on the season, Salvino had a few words to express. “I just wanted to give a shoutout to everyone who did a great job this season! Not just the people who placed top 5! People like Kierra Krause and Anna Rogers worked especially hard, so that they could come to State this year. Thank you to Coach Thompson, who was the most supportive powerlifting coach, he really made the team do great things this season.” On her future, Salvino said, “I will be attending UW-La Crosse next year, where I am planning on joining their Barbell Club, so that I can continue to compete with a team that loves to lift as much as I do.”
Morgan Iverson, in the 181 lb. weight class, placed 5th. Iverson squatted 242 pounds, bench pressed 138 pounds, and deadlifted 320 pounds, for a total score of 700 pounds. “What got me into powerlifting is a funny story actually,” Iverson explained. “A friend of mine joined powerlifting and she asked me to join with her, and I said yes, because I needed to do something to keep me in shape for soccer. When I joined and the sport started, my friend ended up quitting, and I stayed in it because I enjoyed it and I started to make new friends. I just started to love the sport more and more. The one thing I enjoy most about powerlifting, is the sportsmanship. Everyone is so supportive, and it doesn't matter if they know you or not; they still support you. This is my second year lifting and I think I did pretty good this year. One of my goals for next year is getting higher in weight for my squat and bench. For my squat total, I am aiming for around 300.”
Jack Thompson took 2nd place in the 165 lb. division, squatting 413 pounds, bench pressing 254 pounds, and deadlifting 518 pounds, for a grand score of 1,185 pounds. “I got into powerlifting because I have always loved lifting and it kind of made sense to start powerlifting, when it really just comes natural to you,” stated Thompson. “What I have enjoyed most about the sport, is being able to lift with my friends and pushing each other to work harder every day. A goal that I have for next year is to be a better teammate and always push others to be better. I’m always going to work as hard as I can and focus on having fun and enjoying the process. If winning comes with that, then I see it as a cherry on top.”
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