Greenfield - Heading into the national championship meet at Wisconsin Dells last weekend, Whitnall powerlifting co-head coach R.G. Luckow was not even focusing on his team defending last year's crown.
"To be honest, winning it never entered my mind," said Luckow, who directs the team along with Scott Schubert. "We did not take a full varsity team, bringing just eight scoring entries, and some of the other teams had as many as 20 people."
This year's national meet was also the largest ever, with over 440 powerlifters from around the country.
Despite all that, though, when the meet ended on Sunday afternoon, Whitnall was again at the top with 62 points.
"We did it again," said Luckow with a smile. "Every one of our eight varsity entries placed eighth or better, and we had two national champions."
They were Danny Voelkel in the 114-pound class with a total of 843 pounds (combining squat, bench and dead lifts) and Nate Stemo at 148 with 1,190 pounds.
The Falcons also collected a pair of second places by Zach Harenda (123) with 915 pounds and Troy Monty (148) with 1,146 pounds. Monty combined with Stemo to give Whitnall the top two spots at 148 this year.
Jacob Hardy was third at 242 with 1,499 pounds, while Drake Ambroch took sixth at 198 with 1,383 pounds, including an American-record 612 in the squat.
Danny Bigalke finished seventh at 165 with 1,124 and Andy Karwoski came in eighth at 132 with 887 pounds.
Whitnall had two junior-varsity entries. Trevor Fuller won at 148 with 1,058 pounds, including a national-record 446 in the squat. Matt Bublitz claimed seventh at 220 with 1,119 pounds as the team tallied 16 points.
Colleen Barnstable was the lone girl for Whitnall, taking seventh at 148 with 700 pounds and scoring four points.
The Whitnall coaches regard the national crown as a bonus, as their main focus at this time of the year is winning the state meet - and the Falcons did that as well for the fourth straight season on the previous weekend.
Whitnall racked up 67 points at state, led by championships from Voelkel (114) with 860 pounds and Stemo (148) with 1,160, including a state-record 530 pounds in the squat. Hardy won the title at 242 pounds with 1,475 pounds.
Taking second were Harenda (123) with 870 pounds and Monty (148) with 1,110, while fifths were taken by Ambroch (198) with 1,290 and Karwoski (132) with 905. Fuller (148) placed sixth with 1,060.
Bigalke, Connor Perry and Bublitz also took part in the meet for Whitnall.
For the girls, who scored seven points, Barnstable (148) was seventh with 715, while Madi Choppa (165) was 12th with 640, Cassie Haas (198) 14th with 680 and Leah Jenk (123) 15th with 535.
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