By JP Widner/SWT Sports Writer
Manassas- Cherokee Widner, an eighth grader at Pulaski Middle School, entered his first powerlifting meet since he is was crowned the 100% RAW Powerlifting Federation World Champion last October in Las Vegas. The Agressive Strength’s Southern Powerlifting federation Powerlifting Meet was held in Manassas, Virginia. The name “Southern” fools a lot of people because the federation has had meets in 26 states, including as far away as California, Arizona, Texas and Michigan.
Widner weighed in at 131.5 lbs and entered the 13-15 year old/132 lb teenage category. Just turning 14 in December, the teenager was the youngest lifter in the competition, and he elected to compete “raw” (no bench press shirt, squat briefs, etc). The Pulaski Middle Schooler had only been weight training for the past five weeks due to his trainer’s decision to hold him from the weights starting in November due to a strenuous wrestling season which included 25 matches, 17 being victories.
Cherokee started the full powerlifting meet out with the squat competition. He performed lifts of 185, 205 and 215 lbs while breaking the parallel plane. His final squat was a personal best in a meet by 17 lbs and was the fifth highest recorded in the SPF.
In the bench press competition, Widner benched 155 and 175 lbs in his first two lifts. The record for the federation was 180 lbs for his age and weigh, so the bar was loaded to 185 lbs. After the pause on his chest and waiting for the head judge’s command to press, Cherokee brought the bar off his chest only to stall out inches from locking it out. Unfortunately, he could not complete the lift and suffered lower back spasms immediately after. His 175 lb bench tied the second highest recorded bench with Skylar Smith of Alabama.
With the deadlift competition up next and needing just one successful lift to stay in the competition, the decision to possibly do a light weight token lift was discussed. Some analgesic ointment was applied to his back and stretches ensued. Within an hour, the spasms went away and Widner was able to warmup. In his first deadlift, he easily picked up 250 lbs. Deciding that he felt well enough to continue the competition, he lifted 275 lbs in his second lift. In what he thought was his final lift of the day, Widner blasted 300 lbs off the ground with ease. A discussion took place at the judge’s table and the federation’s records were quickly looked up. The current deadlift record in the push/pull (combination of a person’s bench press and deadlift) category was 325 lbs and held by Cody Houser of Georgia from June of 2010. When Widner stepped up on the lifting platform for his fourth and final attempt, the crowd rose from their seats, cheering and clapping in support as the announcer told everyone what the teenager was attempting to accomplished. With one huge heave and using perfect form, the record breaking 330 lbs rose off the platform. The rising eighth grader jumped for joy and fist-pumped as he left the stage with a new national and world record.
“The announcer and the music were awesome!” said Widner. “The crowd was pumped up and that really motivated me to break the world record!” Later when realizing what he had accomplished, Cherokee stated “I owe so much to Ryan (Melton). He helps push me in practice. He is so much a part of this accomplishment.” Widner and Melton work out at 7am every morning at Berry Fitness in Dublin for future powerlifting meets and their future Cougar football high school careers.
At the end of the day, Widner was awarded plagues for first place in the full-powerlifting competition (720 lb total), first place in the push/pull competition (505 lbs) and first place in the bench press competition (13-15 yr old/132 lbs). This meet was used by the teenager as a warmup for the 100% RAW Ironman Nationals and United States Bench Press Championships that will be held on March 23 at Zions Crossroads, Va.