Wisconsin Dells High School Powerlifting Team hosted the USA Powerlifting High School National Competition the weekend of March 23rd-25th, 2012. Two Waupaca County students traveled to the Kalahari Resort to compete. The powerlifting competition consists of nine lifts including three each of squat, bench press and a deadlift. The best lift of each are added to yield a combined competition total for the lifter.
Manawa High School freshman, Autumn Ferg has recently taken up powerlifting in her spare time. Her uncle, Pete Bowen, met Iola-Scandinavia High School Junior, Travis McKinney, at the Iola Fitness and Aquatic Center. Travis was training for the 2012 High School Powerlifting Nationals. With encouragement from Pete and Travis, Autumn decided to try the sport herself. On February 25th, 2012 Autumn participated in the “Last Chance Meet” hosted in Omro, WI. She took 1st place in the 9th-10th Grade Girls 165lb weight class qualifying her to compete at the national competition. On Thursday, March 22nd, 2012 Autumn and her family traveled to Wisconsin Dells to prepare for the competition that began on Friday March 23rd. With the support of her family and the coaching guidance from Uncle Pete and Travis, Autumn was able to secure a 3rd Place win for the 9th-10th Grade Girls 165lb weight class. Her best lifts for the day were a 297lb squat, a 137lb bench press and a 314lb deadlift for combined total of almost 750lbs. On her last deadlift attempt, her right knee buckled slightly, disqualifying the lift. She was able to “lock it out”, but not smooth enough to qualify in a competition. Had that 360lb dead lift attempt qualified in the competition it would have secured a 1st Place win for Autumn. None the less, it was impressive since it was 50lbs more than she had ever attempted to lift before, even in practice.
Iola-Scandinavia High School senior, Travis McKinney, was set to compete at the 2012 USA Powerlifting High School National Competition on Sunday, March 25th, 2012. In March of 2010 Travis took 2nd place in the Men’s JV 181lb Class at the high School national competition. Travis and his family traveled to Corpus Christi, TX in March of 2011 where he became the 2011 JV 181lb High School Powerlifting National Champion. That qualified him to compete in the 2012 competition at the 181lb weight class. But, Travis decided to try competing at the 198lb weight class this time. He had to go to the 2012 “Last Chance Meet” in Omro, WI in order to qualify. Like Autumn, Travis took 1st Place at the Omro meet in his weight class. Travis and his family traveled to Wisconsin Dells on Thursday in order to attend the coaches meeting and prepare for the competition. On Saturday evening, at equipment check in, Travis was told he could not use his own knee wraps or wrist wraps. The company that had made them was not licensed for the 2012 competition, so he had to borrow some equipment from another team. The Whitehall Powerlifting Club from Whitehall, WI generously loaned Travis what he needed. Sunday morning, Travis’ powerlifting buddy, Derrek Nelson from Scandinavia arrived to help with coaching duties for Travis. Travis does the majority of his training alone or with whoever is available at the gym. But, when it comes to a competition the coach is very important. The coach helps keep you apprised of what is happening in the meet and keeps the judges informed of what you plan to attempt when you step up onto the platform. The entire meet is timed. You have one minute from the time they announce that your platform is ready until you have completed your lift attempt. If you are in the practice gym, when your name is called, you could miss your lift entirely without a coach to keep you on track.
When it came time for Travis to compete, he had some stiff competition. He really wanted to become a two time National Champion, but he knew he had his work cut out for him. Travis was successful with 6 of his 9 lifts for the day. He missed one of each lift at this competition. His best lifts included a 584lb squat, a 419lb bench press and a 562lb deadlift for a 1565lb competition total. Travis McKinney became the 2012 Men’s Varsity 198lb National Champion. His bench press saved the day. His closest competition was a senior from the Oshkosh Spartans team who was an incredible squat and deadlift competitor. His bench press was not as strong as Travis’. Travis beat him in bench press by 132lbs. When it came time for the award ceremony, Travis already knew he was the national champion for Men’s Varsity 198lbs. The surprise came when they announced he won the award for the 2012 USA Powerlifting High School National Men’s Varsity Best Bench! That award is across all of the weight classes and is figured on the WILKS formula. WILKS is a formula that takes into account body weight and amount lifted to come up with the strongest lifter at the competition.
High School Powerlifting Varsity Champions are invited to compete at the International Powerlifting Federation Sub-Junior & Junior World’s Powerlifting Championships. This year it is in Poland in August. Travis has been invited to represent the United States in the 198lb weight class. After some discussion, Travis intends to pass on the opportunity to his competitor from Oshkosh. There are several things that have led Travis to make that decision. But, most generously Travis realized that because that young man is a senior in high school he would be beyond the age limit to compete next year. Travis can try for another national championship next spring and be invited to attend 2013 World’s after his senior year of high school.