Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Founded 1901

Royal Purple

Weightlifting Club: UW-W lifters send 14 athletes to State


April 16, 2014

By Andrea Sidlauskas

When it comes to weightlifting, the idea of stout men who spend hours at the gym grunting to hoist heavy plates and shamelessly checking themselves out in the mirror may come to mind.

In reality, Olympic weightlifting is a sport suitable for any individual interested in improving speed, strength and flexibility, or simply looking to boost their overall fitness. It includes two exercises that work the whole body in one movement, as opposed to traditional weightlifting, which isolates certain muscles.

Josh Ireland, head track and field strength and conditioning coach and newly elected Wisconsin Weightlifting state chair, set out to bring the sport of weightlifting to UW-Whitewater three years ago.

Josh Ireland

The UW-Whitewater Weightlifting Club started with six members in its first year, added nine more for its second year and grew to its current membership of 30 athletes, Ireland said.

As it continues to gain popularity, the club made history April 12, as it sent 14 athletes to compete in the 2014 Wisconsin State Weightlifting Championships.

“The chairman of weightlifting for the state of Wisconsin said that this is the biggest amount of competitors to represent a university at a Wisconsin weightlifting championship ever,” Ireland said. “It was pretty cool to hear that. Especially with us only being in our third year, [the club] is only going to get bigger.”

At state championship held in Green Bay, 11 of the 14 athletes received medals.

Among the medalists, Erica Heitsman, Keng Thao, Tyler Novotny and Ireland ranked first in their weight class, earning them state championship honors. Josh Hirth and Shane Perkins received first-place finishes in the junior division.

Weightlifting Club President Novotny broke two state records: the clean-and-jerk and the overall total.

“It means a lot to see success come from all the training I put in the last few years,” Novotny said. “It also gives our coaches the satisfaction of knowing that the work they put in for the athletes is having a positive impact.”

Nine athletes qualified for the 2014 National University Championship to be held in New Mexico in September, and Novotny and Ireland will compete in the 2014 USA National Championships scheduled for November in Salt Lake City, Utah.

“The U.S. Nationals is the biggest meet you can qualify for,” Ireland said. “You’re essentially in the top-20 or 25 best lifters in your weight category in the nation to qualify for that, so it’s a pretty prestigious thing.”

In order to prepare for such an event, the athletes are assigned programs, which Novotny said incorporates lifting days that can range from four to six times a week. When a competition is further out, the athletes perform higher repetitions and include accessory exercises, such as squatting. As the competition gets closer, they will increase the weight being lifted until the week prior so their bodies can recover.

Novotny said he follows a strict diet once a competition is a few weeks away. He cuts his sugar intake and makes sure he consumes plenty of whole grains, unsaturated fats, white lean meat, fruits and vegetables. He also limits portion sizes in order to make weight and still receive the necessary nutrients for his body.

While currently a male-dominated sport, the UW-W Weightlifting Club is open to both males and females, regardless of fitness level.

Beginners are welcome, and proper techniques, as well as terminology, are taught by coaches to ensure safety and proficiency in the sport.

“For a lot of kids, [the Wisconsin State Weightlifting Championships] was their first meet ever,” Ireland said. “I always tell them, once you do your first meet, you become hooked.”

Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

The Royal Purple encourages readers to voice their opinions via the online comments section. Comments may be monitored for appropriateness and viewer safety. If a comment is harassing, threatening or inappropriate in nature, it may be taken down with editor's discretion.
All Royal Purple Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Founded 1901
Weightlifting Club: UW-W lifters send 14 athletes to State