Contest challenges area weightlifters

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Although not an officially sanctioned contest, the competition became intense during the second flight, when the more experienced competitors took to the bench.

The contest was organized by Wayne David Herl, who has more than 30 USA Powerlifting state records.

Herl grew up in Victoria and started lifting to enhance his performance in the shot put.

“My training and lifting routine provide to be quite effective, as I remain the lightest shot-putter in Kansas high school history to throw over 55 feet,” he said.

Herl has won a national championship in the master age division in USA Powerlifting and has broken records approximately eight times, he said. He has been USA Powerlifting state chairman since 2004 and has directed more than 300 meets.

Most meets in Kansas are in Wichita and Lawrence, he said.

“Based on emails I receive, there is a demand for smaller, less stringent lifting competitions, where prospective competitors don’t have to travel 200 miles and incur the costs to compete in sanctioned USA Powerlifting meets,” he said.

He hopes to grow from Saturday’s event, but for now, decided to start with the bench press. Future competitions could include squats and powerlifting.

“Everybody who goes to the gym bench presses,” Herl said. “It might not be the most productive lift, but it’s the most popular lift and you’re going to get more people,” he said.

Saturday’s challenge followed USA Powerlifting rules, with teen, junior and open divisions. Participants competed in weight classes within the division. The two women and 17 men had three attempts at the bench press, with the best weight going to their score.

For Danielle Windholz, Herl’s niece from Victoria, it was her first competition.

“He kind of talked me into it,” she said of Herl.

“I’ve always lifted to just kind of lift, but I decided to lift to get stronger and train,” she said.

Windholz took first place in the women’s open division.

The second flight of lifting featured more experienced competitors such as Ben Vigness, Bucklin. The U.S. Navy veteran has been in competitive weightlifting for approximately two years and said he usually places in the top two.

He took first place Saturday in the open division 105 kilogram weight class.

Kevin Norton, St. John, was eager to see how well he would do. He recently competed in Lincoln, Neb., where he placed second in his weight class.

“I might meet my expectations because I’m up one weight class compared to what I did at the last meet, so we’ll see if that helps today,” he said before the contest began.

Afterward, he said he felt good about his performance. He lifted 150 kilograms — nearly 330 pounds — a personal best, he said. He placed second in the 93 kilogram weight class.

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