Reed Witkoski not only set personal records in the powerlifting national championship, but he had a chance to win gold in the deadlift portion of the competition.
In Alexandria, Louisiana, Witkoski reached a personal best in the squat lift with a total of 192.5 kilograms (424 lb) and in the bench press the sophomore hoisted 120 kg (264 lb.)
Witkoski was in second place heading into the deadlift part of the competition and he needed a strong showing if he wanted to gain ground for first.
The 16-year old Mount Carmel student believed that if he could just get the bar off of the floor, he knew that he would have the strength in his legs and back to complete the lift.
Witkoski heaved 212.5 kg (468.5 lb) off the ground in his first attempt and in his second attempt he would set a personal mark of 227.5 kg (501.6 lb). These results nailed down a second place finish for Witkoski, but a new opportunity arose.
Alex Sydor, a power lifter from Wisconsin, was holding onto first place in the competition, but had a red lighted miss at 242.5 kg (534.6 lb.) Sydor tore three calluses off of his right hand during the lift, which gave Witkoski a chance to go for gold.
“You constantly have to monitor other competitors. There are small differences between getting a medal and not medaling,” Jeff Witkoski, Reed’s father, said about the competition.
The senior Witkoski compared the competition to shot put, because the participants were bunched together in terms of results — no one had a big lead over another lifter.
The first, second and third place scenario broke down like this.
If Sydor missed his last deadlift attempt and Witkoski could lift 240 kg, then Witkoski could become the national champion. If Witkoski missed the 240 kg mark and the other competitors finish their lifts, then he would be the third place holder.
“We did not come here to win second or third place. We have to go big or go home,” Witkoski told his father, Jeff before his final lift.
After Witkoski was given the go-ahead, he was able to elevate the bar off the ground and reached the top of his thighs, but could not finish the lift.
Sydor would end up getting a trio of white lights in his last attempt and claimed the top spot in the contest.
“I gave it everything I had. There are some really strong freaks out there. What a great experience. I can’t wait to go for gold next year,” Witkoski said about the national championship.
Witkoski learned a lot from his time in the Pelican State and has a new goals for next year.
“I would see people lifting 471 (pounds) and think ‘Why can’t I lift more?.’ Now, I want to lift that and more. I want to work harder and my work out partner, Damon Dowkus, has pushed me in the gym and I’ve pushed him,” Witkoski explained about his mindset as he gears up for the next season.
“I want to get gold. I have the chance to get gold now.”