Powerlifters take first at Record Breakers Meet

courtesy Spero Tshontikidis

Danny Dolnik, Staff Writer

The powerlifting team — consisting of 17 girls and two managers — broke 29 records in their respective weight groups, and won first place in the high school and adult divisions at the RAW United Record Breakers Meet in Tampa during the weekend. The event was an international tournament that welcomed high school teams and adult teams as well as boys and girls.

West Shore collected 31 points while the second-place team, Ridgewood from New Port Richey, earned 26 points. The international tournament held by RAW United had a turnout of 142 lifters and gained a great deal of television coverage as well as an explosion online covering the tournament.

Dr. Spero Tshontikidis, West Shore’s head coach the president of RAW United said he was pleased with his team’s performance at only its second large-scale event.

“They did great,” he said. “As a coach, I was very impressed because we’re so young, but they lifted really well,” Tshontikis said. “A lot of the girls, especially the girls that had been on the team since its inception, made really great improvements from their first meet to their second meet. Our squats and deadlifts made real big gains. Now I’m taking them into a higher level of training.”

Tshontikidis the team exceeded its pre-tournament expectations despite some key injuries.

“I had some kids that were hurt and were able to work around their injuries,” Tshontikis said. “A couple of the girls got injured about a month before the tournament. Megan L. (seventh grader) got an injury from falling off a horse outside of training, and so we had to nurse the injury. She took a whole week off, which is a long time in powerlifting. When your taking time off in the middle of your training dsessions, it slows down your progress. Despite that, she was still able to break all four records in each of the lifts, and she was able to perservere through the adversity that she was facing. She was able to come back and darn near pull a double-body weight lift.

“Dulcy Olson (freshman) had a hamstring injury about three weeks before the tournament. That effected her squat and her deadlift, so we were nursing her throughout the tournament. I was checking on her after each lift to see how she was doing. She was still able to squat 145 and deadlift 210. Faryn Antenucci (sophomore) had a phenomenal day, in fact, she went 152 in the squat and 202 with the deadlift.

“Probably the best lift came from Moriah Douglas (senior). She was in a close battle with someone from Ridgewood, and she made her opening deadlift of 282 which was a new record, but the other girl had out-benched her, but Douglas missed the second lift. The other girl made hers, so she gained ground. It came down to the third deadlift. A deadlift usually take five seconds, but her’s literally took 15 seconds, and the rule is: if the bar stops, the judges will give you a second or so to pull through the sticking spot. With Moriah, the bar probably stopped at three different locations, but she never stopped pulling. I’ve been directing contests for nearly 30 years, and I’ve never seen a lift like that where a lifter just did not quit. It was unbelievable, a real testament to how hard she worked, so she deserved to win.”

The experience for the girls is important going forward. There were teams from all over the world and 45 women were competing so there was plenty of competition.

“For five of the girls, it was really there first full power meet. When you go into a meet of this magnitude, that in itself can be pretty intimidating, especially when you see guys there banging out 700 and 800 pound lifts,” Tshontikis said. “To experience the competition was real good for them. This was a good preparation for May in which we will be holding the state competition here, and there will be a lot more competition there.”

Tshontikis has high expectations for the lifters and the years of powerlifting to come.

“Our younger girls are doing really well,” he said. “I think we will evolve with the sport, and our team is really strong because we have a lot of depth. In order to become a national contender, we need at least 20 girls on the team. I believe within two to three years we will be one of the top teams in the nation if everything keeps going the way its going. The thing about powerlifting is its incremental, so as long as you keep training and your doing it right, you’ll keep getting better. As they progress over time, there numbers are just going to get stronger and stronger. I think by the time Megan L. is a senior or even Antenucci is a senior, they will be two of the best, if not the best in the nation. They have the genetics and the drive to keep and going, and so if things keep going as they are now, we’ll be unstoppable. ”

The team’s next meet will be in May, another RAW United tournament, which is the state championships.