April 11th, 2011

Rocks Capture 7th National Powerlifting Title

Chris Jung

Senior Writer

Rocks Capture 7th National Powerlifting Title
photo from nasa-sports.com

Four Trinity High School lifters earn individual championships

When Trinity High School Powerlifting Head Coach Bob Maddox took his very first team to the state championship meet at Central Hardin in 2001, he entered his entire team to compete at the event.

At that time, after Maddox had just started the program at Trinity, "entire team" meant eight kids.

"People snickered," says Maddox.

Today, however, the Shamrocks have evolved into a state and nationwide force on the powerlifting scene, which was proven again last week when the Rocks won its 7th Natural Athlete Strength Association National Championship in Oklahoma.

Trinity, which has also won the state powerlifting team championship ten years in a row, captured first-place in all three team divisions - deadlift, squat, and bench - in the unequipped powerlifting and power sports competition.

Maddox's team had four different lifters capture individual NASA national championships, as Chris Ullum (148-pound class), Lance Kaufman (242-pound), John Fett (132-pound) and John Zehnder (114-pound division) won titles in their respective weight classes.

NASA, which does not allow the use of bench shirts, squat suits, or other performance-enhancing accessories, has been crowning champions for 28 years, and Maddox says title No. 7 for his squad at the competition reminded him of a popular credit card marketing campaign.

"Have you ever seen the Mastercard commercials on TV?," asked a rhetorical Maddox. "It was 'priceless.' To see the smiles on (the kids') faces, the smiles on the parent's faces that were out there, it was a great feeling and well worth all the hard work."

Trinity Powerlifting, a non-sanctioned club program that now has 114 participants, has become a household name in the lifting circuit and has found success in numbers.

"What it comes down to is that we had good depth with the two teams - freshman/sophomore and junior/senior -  and that's what's helped us win," said Maddox. "That's a compliment to the kids."

Maddox also credits the dedication of his guys when talking about what led to another national championship.

"We come in on Saturday mornings and we even started to coming in on Sunday afternoons," said Maddox. "Having these kind of accolades happen for them shows their hard work."

Maddox, who is a former NFL player with the Cincinnati Bengals and Kansas City Chiefs, also coached Division I football defensive line at the University of Miami (Florida), University of Louisville and University of Tennessee. He's coached and worked with some of the biggest names in football, but says that one of his most difficult tasks came this season, when he had to narrow down his 114-athlete roster to ten kids who would compete on the big stage.

In the national championship competition, only ten lifters earn points for your team, and the rosters must be pre-set and submitted prior to the start of the meet.

"During the flat bench and dead lift, you try to look at how the kids did at the state meet and project how they would do in nationals," said Maddox. "We've been working on this since last year."

The Shamrocks, which competed without arguably its two, best competitors - Derek Bishop and Joey Warburg - took on and conquered a field of over 200 competitors who represented schools from Texas, Missouri, Kansas, New Mexico, and the host state of Oklahoma.

Trinity was not the only Kentucky representative at the national competition. Fort Knox and Green County also fielded teams, and the Fort Knox girls squad actually won the female side of the championship meet, solidifying the state's place among the powerlifting ranks.

So with that kind of success and diverse participation, does powerlifting stand a chance to soon become a sanctioned sport in the Commonwealth?

"If it does, fine. If it doesn't, that's fine too," said Maddox. "These kids work hard no matter what."

Maddox also says that one of the best parts of powerlifting is that virtually anyone can participate, and be successful on top of it.

"It doesn't matter if you're big or small, everyone's a part of the team," said Maddox. "The hardest part about the weight room is walking in. It's 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. But once you start, if you work at it every day, anyone can improve. Just improve by one percent every day."

The current team loses six competing seniors, which includes Nate Russell, Chris Ullum, Kyle Wellendorff, Daniel Westfall and Jude Zoeller, and Connor Schwartz.


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