Titans Reign in Park Forest

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Spectators fill Quality Classic Gym Saturday. (Photo: ENEWSPF)

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Park Forest, IL–(ENEWSPF)– The action began following the cry from the head judge, "The bar’s loaded!"

Powerlifters gathered Saturday to lift hundreds of pounds in an attempt to qualify for State and National Championships with the American Powerlifting Federation of Illinois.

The American Powerlifting Federation of Illinois and the American Amateur Powerlifting Federation (APF/AAPF) held a state qualifying meet Saturday at Quality Classic Gym, located in DownTown Park Forest. State Chairman Eric Stone was in attendance and also participated in the meet.

Dr. Gary Tennant of Park Forest of Park Forest Chiropractic was the attending physician for the day. Tennant says he is also a lifter. He said was hoping to lift 315 lbs. Saturday.

"But there’s some real big boys here who are going to do six or seven hundred," Tennant said.

He wasn’t kidding.

Throughout the morning and into the afternoon, a crowd in excess of 100 spectators cheered on the men and women participating in the competition.

"Deep breath!" someone cheers from the crowd.

"Drive!" another yells, and the lift begins. Raising the weights from the rack at a weight he selected, face red with exertion, the powerlifter lowers himself as the judge calls out, "Squat!" The more than 100 spectators cheer as he struggles under the burden on his shoulders, squatting and standing up. After the lift, the three judges rule. Did the participant squat low enough? Was it a good lift?

Two or three white lights signaled success; two or three red lights mean the lift was not good. Regardless of the results, the crowd cheered and encouraged each participant.

As the morning progressed, weights attempted also grew heavier. Depending on their class, some powerlifters attempted weights of six or seven hundred pounds. Some attempted to lift weights in excesses of 800 pounds Saturday. Depending on the competition, some may attempt weights in excess of 1000 pounds, according to one participant.

Todd Moore, a trainer at Quality Classic Gym, had the highest successful squat Saturday at 765 pounds. Todd later bench pressed 500 pounds as if the bars were laden with styrofoam.

Powerlifter Ross Bowsher attempted unsuccessfully to lift 840 pounds. He finished with two red lights and a white because he didn’t sqat low enougn, blood trickling down his cheek from a burst capillary as he struggled with the massive load.

Gym owner Earl Davis said Bowsher started too high, "Like we tell the lifters here, you start where you can do at least five repetitions. Then you go three repetions in terms of the amount of weight."

Kathy Flores of Chicago Heights was competing with her husband Rich Flores, age 70. Rich is an 18-time World Champion, according to his wife.

A meet must have the proper referees for records to be broken.

"This is called a Powerlifting Championship," said Alia Davis, who owns the gym with her husband Earl. Alia said there were people from all over the United States attending Saturday’s meet. "This will become a qualifier for the State [Championship]. We have women, men and teens lifting in this competition — all ages, all heights, all weights."

Earl Davis said Saturday’s event was sanctioned by the APF. Earl said there were approximately 15 people in competition for the first time.

"You ought to see them. They’re terrific."

Two competitors jested with each other between rounds, "How much are you lifting?"

"650 [pounds]."

"That’s all?"

"I’m an old man!" came the friendly reply.

Photos from Saturday’s competition are available here.

See http://www.apf-illinois.com for more information on the American Powerlifting Association of Illinois.

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Todd Moore, a trainer at Quality Classic Gym in Park Forest, shoulders a 765 pound load at Saturday’s competition. (Photo: ENEWSPF)