Basehor-Linwood powerlifters pumped for record-sized home tournament
The Basehor-Linwood powerlifting program has earned a reputation for being one of the biggest and strongest squads in the area.
The BLHS girls have won three straight state championships, and the boys are among the top teams at every tournament they attend.
Perhaps the only thing bigger and badder than the BLHS lifters, however, is their home tournament: The Bobcat Power Invitational. The event has grown larger each year, but the 2011 edition — which begins at 9 a.m. Saturday — will be one for the record books.
A total of 610 lifters from 38 schools will be in attendance, according to BLHS coach Ross Schwisow.
“Last year we had about 375, so it’s pretty much doubled,” Schwisow said. “We have the same goal of getting done at 2 p.m. (like in years past), so we’re going to add some stations. We’re going to use the small gym and have it housed in two places. We’ll see how that goes, because we’ve never done that before. Fortunately we have the luxury of having some graduates (from the program) and graduates who play college sports and can bring some teammates (to help judge).”
Admission to the tournament is free for the public, and T-shirts and concessions will be available for purchase. Concessions proceeds will go to the BLHS Booster Club. In addition, donations will be accepted that will go to the family of McLouth High School student Trevor Roberts. Roberts had to have his left leg amputated after suffering an on-field injury during football season.
Schwisow said his athletes take pride in running a top-notch tournament and competing at a high level at the same time. Now that the home tournament has nearly doubled in size, Schwisow said there’s even greater pressure on the Bobcats — and the girls’ squad in particular — to rise to the occasion.
“We try to put pressure on them,” he said. “Last year when we graduated so many girls, we said ‘Who’s going to step up?’ We’ve told them, ‘You’ve won three straight state titles, and there’s schools that don’t like that. They don’t want you to keep doing it.’ That’s good for them to hear, so hopefully they step up.”
The Bobcats enter the tournament with plenty of momentum. They had a successful day Saturday, Jan. 29, at the Royal Valley Invitational. More than 440 athletes competed at the tournament, and the BLHS girls won their 19th straight tournament title while the boys placed second. Topeka High won the boys’ competition.
On the girls’ side, Shelby Equels was selected as the Lifter of the Meet in the lightweight division and Brittany Billinger was honored as Lifter of the Meet in the powerweight division.
The meet was Equels’ first of the season because she is also a basketball player during the winter and usually has conflicting schedules. For Billinger, Schwisow said the honor was particularly impressive because she has spent her career competing against two of the best lifters in BLHS history — 2010 graduate Megan Rehm and 2011 senior Melissa Seaman.
“She has fought that to make her better, and it was very deserving,” Schwisow said.
Numerous Bobcats set meet records in their respective weight divisions. On the boys’ side, Josh Stillian set a record for the clean (285 pounds) in the 173-pound division, Caleb Johnson set a clean record (300 pounds) in the heavyweight division, and Russell Clark set a squat record (300 pounds) in the 132-pound division. On the girls’ side, Equels set a clean record (150 pounds) in the 123-pound division, Shelby Miles set a pair of records (100-pound bench, 115-pound clean) in the 105-pound division, Kelsie Belk set a total weight record (495 pounds) and a clean record (160 pounds) in the 180-pound division, and Alyssa Rucker set total weight record (385 pounds) in the 105-pound division.
Rucker and Miles’ record-setting performances also earned them individual titles. Marissa Dove won the squat competition (160 pounds) in the 114-pound division, and Danae Leppke won in the same division for bench (100 pounds), clean (115 pounds) and total weight (365 pounds).
In addition to her division title for the clean, Equels also won for squat (195 pounds) and total weight (455 pounds).
Courtney Leive won the bench (100 pounds) in the 132-pound division, Brandi Stahl won the squat (200 pounds) in the 140-pound division, Seaman won the bench (135 pounds) in the 148-pound division, and Billinger won the clean (140 pounds), squat (245 pounds) and total weight (490 pounds).
Also for the BLHS girls, Kelsie Belk won the bench (115 pounds), squat (220 pounds), clean (160 pounds) and total weight (495 pounds) in the 180-pound division, and Mallori Belk won the clean (165 pounds) in the powerweight division.
For the boys, Johnson and Stillian won with their record-setting performances. Meanwhile, Clark added victories in the clean (215 pounds) and overall weight (685 pounds) to his record-setting effort in the squat.