Former champs lift Whitnall to the top
Falcons powerlifters claim fifth straight state title
Greenfield - The continuing contributions of former champions are helping the powerful Whitnall powerlifting team maintain its run of success.
Past champions such as Nathan Marshall, Sean Graham and Ryan Lepkowski, all Whitnall High School graduates, and Pius XI graduate Ulice Payne have all returned to help the current powerlifters with their techniques.
Their efforts are paying off, as this year's Whitnall squads have carried on the winning tradition.
The boys team claimed its fifth straight state championship to tie a longtime state record and had three individual champions, while the girls unit finished fourth, led by freshman Lauren Lent, who won the 114-pound crown and was named the meet's best lifter.
"Our people have always been overachievers," head coach R.G. Luckow said. "They are brought up in a winning culture and they do things the correct way. They have also had great teachers with the previous state and national champions. Those people are all students of powerlifting. They understand the lifts and the techniques."
The Whitnall boys tallied 76 points to capture the team title.
Nate Stemo (165 pounds) and Drake Ambroch (220) claimed individual championships and set state records.
Stemo, who won a national crown at 148 pounds last season, posted state marks of 640 pounds in the squat competition and 1,405 pounds as a total.
He was also awarded the meet's second-best lifter award, giving Whitnall a sweep of the top two spots in that honor.
Ambroch notched state records of 715 pounds in the squat and 1,565 overall.
"They (Stemo and Ambroch) both learned their techniques from the upperclassmen and the former champions," Luckow said.
The other state champion was Troy Monty (148) with a total of 1,155 pounds.
Taking second were Mikey Voelkel (123) with 875 pounds total and Billy Schmid (heavyweight) with 1,420 pounds.
Finishing fourth were Trevor Fuller (165) with 1,210 pounds and Matt Bublitz (242) with 1,330 pounds. Ben Stojcevic was seventh at 181 pounds with 1,255 and Connor Perry eighth at 198 with 1,270 pounds.
Other entrants were Todd Marino, 13th at 148 (1,005); Andy Karwoski, 18th at 148 (965); Daniel Lak, 18th at 198 (1,130); Steven Bonin, 21st at 148 (930); Luke Bennett, 24th at 198 (1,090); and James Goebel, 30th at 165 (990).
For the girls, Lent won at 114 pounds with a total of 750 pounds, while Colleen Barnstable took eighth at 148 pounds (740), Madi Choppa 10th at 165 pounds (720), Leah Jenk 12th at 114 (535) and Sadee Kotowski 25th at 123 (515).
The girls squad scored 20 points for fourth place.
National meet next
Whitnall will next compete in the national championships the first weekend of April in Denver, Colo. The team will send nine boys and will be looking for its third straight national crown, and the girls will send four entries, including Lent.
The Whitnall powerlifting program continues its rapid ascent. It was formed in 2007 and has grown steadily to a total of about 50 this season.
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