Powerlifting Programs on the Rise at Northern Michigan Schools

Lifting has become a part of every offseason routine for high school athletes in Northern Michigan to help improve their skills for the upcoming year. Recently, high schools have started powerlifting programs to encourage lifting and competition.

The sport consists of three elements: squat, deadlift and bench. For many high schools, it has transformed from an offseason workout to a statewide competition.

“Right now, it’s a little bit on the upswing. We had more lifters at our regional this year than we’ve ever had before,” Traverse City West powerlifting coach Jason Morrow said. “Now Manistee has a regional, and that’s been, you know, fun for our kids to go to.”

Manistee won the 2016 title, with seven athletes placing in the competition.

“It was amazing,” Manistee senior Chris Janis said. “It’s something that as a kid, you dream of being called the best. You know, that’s why we put a lot of hours up here, so we can be called, ‘the best.’”

Powerlifting is similar to wrestling by having the athletes put into weight classes. The junior varsity team consists of seventh grade to 10th grade athletes while the 11th and 12th graders are on varsity.

“The only difference between wrestling and powerlifting is for wrestling, kids would try to drop weight,” Kalkaska’s Jakob Disbrow said. “But in powerlifting, what weight class I’m in, I’m not going to try to drop to a weight class. I’ll just try to maintain a healthy weight.”

For a sport to join the MHSAA, there needs to be approximately 70 schools that sponsor it on an interscholastic basis. At the state tournament, 56 schools placed for varsity powerlifting. The club sport isn’t on the radar for the MHSAA right now.

“We’ve grown now. I think we’ve had 12 girls at one point in time, you know, throughout the season,” Kalkaska coach Jason Skeels said. “So we’ve grown to see male and female growth in the sport and development, and we want to continue that. And we try to lift year-round.”