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Beyond Strength: Westtown Throwdown


By Chris Dertz

On Saturday, December 10th, over 50 high school students representing five area schools gathered at Golder College Prep in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood for a powerlifting meet. Golder College Prep, the newest member school of the Illinois High School Powerlifting Association (IHSPLA), hosted the aptly named Westtown Throwdown.

Coach Martin Quiroga, the head powerlifting coach at Golder Prep Academy, wanted to start a powerlifting team because of some hard lessons he learned while playing college football. At the time, he felt that he was at a disadvantage, both physically and schematically, compared to his peers. He knows now that strength training can be a differentiating factor. Starting a powerlifting team would give the students at Golder College Prep the physical development and the knowledge that he felt he lacked as a young athlete.

On choosing the IHSPLA for competition, Coach Quiroga says, “Ever since I heard of the IHSPLA and the life lessons it provides for our young student-athletes, I knew I wanted to be a part of the organization and breathe life into the dreams of our young people.” 

“When I heard of the @IHSPLA and the life lessons it provides for our student-athletes, I knew I wanted to be a part of the organization and breathe life into the dreams of our young people.” -Coach Quiroga (@margoyis72):

Anyone who has ever hosted a powerlifting meet knows that the challenges are formidable. Coach Quiroga had to marshal a large force of spotters, loaders, table workers, and judges and prepare for spectators. Leading up to the meet, he realized that Golder College Prep needed thinner weight plates so these had to be quickly ordered. He actually had to pick up the weights and deliver them to the school in his Hyundai Sonata! After weeks of planning, the meet was scheduled for Saturday, December 10th.

The schools competing at the meet included Golder College Prep, Romeoville High School, Kankakee High School, Herscher High School, and New Trier High School. Romeoville swept the team competitions, placing first in the Co-Ed/Combined, Men’s, and Women’s Divisions.

Individual results (up to 3rd place for the men’s and women’s divisions included the following:

Men’s Divisions Women’s Divisions
132
1. Aron Flores (KHS)
2. Justin Andrade (KHS)
3. James Holohan (HHS)
105
1. Layla Keen (HHS)
148
1. Adam Nagel (HHS)
2. Austin Rivera (RHS)
3. Tyler London (NTHS)
114
1. Bridget Mazurkiewicz (RHS)
165
1. Abram Ramos (KHS)
2. Michael Bond (GCP)
3. Lionel Major (RHS)
123
1. Corrin Smith (RHS)
181
1. Isaac Castillo (NTHS)
2. Keegan Elliot (HHS)
3. Joe Blanton (HHS)
132
1. Jayla Patterson (RHS)
2. Camille Rose (NTHS)
198
1. Chris Orozco (RHS)
2. Donnie Speigle (RHS)
3. Tucker White (HHS)
148
1. Ajiya Casarrubias (HHS)
2. Naj Povilaitis (RHS)
220
1. Isai Brito (KHS)
2. Caleb McCrainie (GCP)
2. Mick Ryan (KHS)
165
1. Samya Mcintosh (KHS)
2. Ava Siu (NTHS)
242
1. Maxwell Jiang (NTHS)
2. Milan Barcenas (GCP)
181
1. Alejandra Baca (GCP)
275
1. Gavin Shahan (RHS)
2. Nathan Sheets (HHS)
3. Alex Flores Solis (RHS)
198
1. Guadalupe Valez-Cruz (KHS)
308
1. Jordan Avery (GCP)

There were several outstanding individual performances at the meet. In the Women’s Division Squat, Jayla Patterson from Romeoville (210lbs) and Ajiya Casarrubias from Herscher (240lbs) each broke the 200lbs barrier.

In the Women’s 165 Division, all three competitors, Brianna Wylie and Ava Siu from New Trier (235lbs/280lbs) and Samya McIntosh from Kankakee (260lbs) all squatted over 200lbs.

The biggest squat among the women was turned in by Kankakee’s Guadalupe Valez-Cruz in the 181lbs division. She squatted an astounding 300lbs.

Big bench presses among the women included Casarrubias (145lbs) and Valez-Cruz (150lbs). Casarrubias and Valez-Cruz also broke the 300lbs barrier in the deadlift, pulling 325lbs and 355lbs respectively.

On the men’s side of the competition, Adam Nagel from Herscher (315lbs), Abram Ramos from Kankakee (325lbs) Joe Blanton from Herscher (365lbs), and Keegan Elliot from Herscher (375lbs) all recorded double-bodyweight squats.

The 400lb squat barrier was broken by Isai Brito from Kankakee (425lbs), Gavin Shahan from Romeoville (450lbs) and Maxwell Jiang from New Trier (475lbs). In the 181lbs division, New Trier’s Isaac Castillo recorded a 445lbs squat, an astounding 2.5x over his bodyweight!

Big bench presses were recorded by Aron Flores from Kankakee. His 165lbs press in the 132lbs division was almost 40lbs over his bodyweight. Several of the men broke the 200lbs barrier including Zach Schmidt from Herscher (215lbs), Ramos (235lbs), Elliot (235lbs), Castillo (215lbs), Chris Orozco from Romeoville (225lbs) Brito (250lbs), Nathan Sheets from Herscher (260lbs), and Shahan (295lbs).

The heaviest bench of the meet was recorded by New Trier’s Jiang, who pressed 300lbs in the 242 division.

Several of the men broke 400lbs in the deadlift, including Nagel, Brito, and Ramos (405lbs), Orozco (410lbs), Elliot (425lbs), and Castillo (495lbs). Two lifters, Shahan and Jiang, both deadlifted over a quarter-ton. Shahan turned in a 515lbs effort while Jiang topped all lifters with a 575lbs pull. 

Seven of the men totaled 1000lbs or more in the meet. These lifters were Orozco and Sheets (1000lbs), Elliot (1035lbs), Brito (1080lbs), Castillo (1155lbs), Shahan (1260lbs), and Jiang (1350lbs) all earned membership in the 1000lbs Club.

The meet was a great success. Coach Quiroga would like to personally thank Jessie Weingartner, the principal at Golder College Prep for enthusiastically supporting the event and Josh Carpenter, the Golder College Prep AD for providing the facilities and resources to make the meet a reality. Also, Jim Davis and Joe Lim from the IHSPLA were on site and provided experience and leadership that resulted in the event running smoothly.  Lastly, he would like to thank all the coaches and lifters who participated in the event and made it a success. He hopes that everyone improved as a result of competing and he is looking forward to competing again soon.    


Interested in starting a powerlifting team, check out “How to Start a Powerlifting Team, Part 1” and if you’re in Illinois, reach out the IHSPLA to join the fun!





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