Powerlifters channel their energy

SALEM – Powerlifters of all ages and sizes channeled their energy into some amazing feats of raw strength at a union hall in Salem Saturday, including a 163-pound man who deadlifted more than three times his body weight.

Michael Hart of Pittsburgh set a new national record in his weight class with that deadlift of 616 pounds during the Quaker Classic 100 Percent Raw Powerlifting Championships at the USW AFL-CIO Local 1538 Hall on Prospect Street.

His story was just one of many told by Lonnie Adkins, chairman of the Ohio 100 Percent Raw Powerlifting Federation and a former state, national and world record holder himself.

The Quaker Classic attracted powerlifters from all over, including world record holder Pedro Mejias from Brooklyn, New York, who attempted to break the bench press world record, but failed in his attempt at 635 pounds. He holds the world record at 633 pounds.

Even locals Michael Gagnon, an 18-year-old Salem High School student, and Lisbon resident Bill Buck, 76 years old, competed. Gagnon broke his own record in the 132-pound weight class by deadlifting 325 pounds. Buck set national records in the deadlift, bench press and strict curl in his age group in the 292-pound weight class.

The youngest competitor, 10-year-old Aeden Begue, of Canton, lifted his way to state records for deadlift and bench press in the 110-pound weight class, deadlifting 132.2 pounds and bench pressing 93.6 pounds.

Adkins said they had a woman compete, too, and she beat all the men in the rep challenge, completing 36 reps of half her body weight. Lisa Herbert, of Wadsworth, weighed in at 120 pounds.

In what he considered the matchup of the day, he said Nate Mathews of Sandusky and Melvin Logan of Cleveland completed 12 lifts against each other in competition for the Ironman title in the 242-pound weight class, with Logan coming out on top by virtue of his deadlift of 644.7 pounds. Mathews beat him in the bench press category, so it came down to a matter of pounds.

A total of 34 lifters participated, with over 100 others there to watch or serve as spotters or judges. Some of the sponsors included Big Dog Steak-Seafood & Ale, Game On, Promo’s Unlimited, all in Salem, the Western Reserve Scourge, which is a semi-pro football team from Poland and the Iron Chamber Gym in Canton.

The next meet in Salem will be the Buckeye Open the first Saturday in August.