CWRU LIFT hosts deadlift competition, brings together university’s weightlifting community


Courtesy of CWRU LIFT

Students celebrate the inaugural CWRU LIFT competition, striking various poses, including the Zyzz pose, as the successful event came to a close.

Puneet Bansal, Sports Editor

Saturday mornings are pretty quiet around campus. The Veale Recreation Center usually has a few people coming in to do their workouts, but on Nov. 19, the Veale rack room was packed with members of the Case Western Reserve University LIFT club in anticipation of the deadlift competition.

CWRU LIFT, the university’s graduate weightlifting club, held the inaugural event with two goals in mind: to have fun and lift heavy. The club was founded over the summer and formally recognized this October by the Graduate Student Council. The board is led by president Amy Kurr alongside the leadership team of CJ Bowes, Adam Ketchum, Aja Leatherwood, Cedric Levi and Joe Ferrari. Their mission is “to support CWRU competitive lifters and strength sport enthusiasts in achieving their goals by providing information, financial support, and a network of like-minded individuals.”

LIFT doesn’t hold regular meetings like most clubs. Instead, it brings together the weightlifting community via events and competitions that are co-hosted with other campus organizations. This semester, the club hosted a Weightlifting Clinic alongside Medicine in Motion, in which participants were taught proper squat, bench and deadlift form by LIFT volunteers.

They also hosted an introductory powerlifting meet seminar, which was held over Zoom and explained in detail the process of signing up for, preparing, attending and competing in powerlifting competitions for newcomers. 

The Deadlift Competition ran from around 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with an after-party hosted in the White Building student lounge until 5 p.m. Outside the rack room, the event’s sponsors had laid out smoothies and protein shakes from Beyond Juicery and Eatery, bagels and breakfast items from Panera Bread and energy juices and drinks from Garden of Flavor.

Inside the competition room, LIFT set up a scores table alongside a constructed deadlifting platform with a slick deadlift poster as a backdrop. Rows of seats were set up behind the judges’ area for the more than 150 spectators and participants to relax in. Smelling salts, chalk and warmup bands were purchased and provided for those who wanted to use them.

The competition started promptly at noon. With 29 competitors participating, there were three flights total with nine or 10 lifters per flight. Each competitor got three attempts, with the weight becoming progressively heavier with each attempt. LIFT advisors Ben Parks and Curts Bickham, who also work at One-to-One Fitness, helped orchestrate transitions between each lifter and the judging alongside other LIFT volunteers.

At the conclusion of the competition, Adam Ketchum lifted the heaviest weight for the men’s competition. He had two successful attempts of 680 and 725 lbs, and attempted a 750 lbs lift. Ryan Joy, Xavier Wiemken and William Kerr had the next highest successful attempts of 605 lbs, 605 lbs and 600 lbs, respectively.

Lucas Sheuermann, a graduate student studying accounting, talked about his appreciation for such an event being held after successfully lifting 435, 465 and 500 lbs.

“It’s cool because I’ve been here for nine semesters and we never really had events like this,” Lucas said. “It was hard to meet people with similar hobbies and was kind of isolating. So, it’s nice to finally have a place where we can meet people with similar weightlifting interests.”

On the women’s side, Annika Minotti led the charge with successful lifts of 320, 350 and 355 lbs. Gabrielle McBroom followed with successful 230, 280 and 300 lbs lifts. Belinda Chen almost hit the 300 lbs mark, coming in just shy with 295 lbs.

Minotti, a second-year double major in political science and economics, is not entirely new to the powerlifting scene. After getting into lifting late in high school, she made her mark earlier in October at her first powerlifting competition in Columbus, Ohio where she broke the state deadlift record for her age and weight class.

“I just thought the [CWRU LIFT] competition would be fun and I would be able to watch all of my friends deadlift,” Minotti said. “I thought the event went really well [and] the turnout was great! The energy was super high and everyone cheered each other on.”

When asked about the strong showing of female competitors at this event, Minotti was especially supportive.

“There was a total of [seven] women who competed… [and they] ranged greatly in level, which was super cool to see! It seemed that they all had fun at the competition, along with myself. So I hope this can inspire other women to lift heavy because it’s fun!”

The event made waves all over the CWRU campus, according to the LIFT leadership team, as the club expects the organization to double in size at both the member and leadership levels.

“I can honestly say that the feat our small leadership team accomplished in the span of a few months is truly incredible,” said Kurr, LIFT’s president and a master’s student in macromolecular science and engineering.

“There’s an inner energy that burns in an athlete when they step on to the platform to execute a lift in the hopes of demonstrating that they are stronger today than they ever have been. However, the energy that dwells within an event director on competition day is extraordinary and indescribable. To know your work fueled the personal records and camaraderie of the community you love is better than competing.”

After the event, LIFT received much positive feedback from students in the School of Engineering, the Health Education Campus and the School of Law. GSC’s commitment to helping advance the lifting community in CWRU has also helped the club gain recognition from CWRU Recreation and Athletics.

“The deadlift competition is being talked about across campus as the pivotal point to launch CWRU into the competitive lifting arena both locally and nationally,” said Kurr. “CWRU’s support in CWRU LIFT to bring our vision for the deadlift competition to life is deeply appreciated on behalf of the CWRU LIFT leadership team, advisor team and members.”

LIFT plans to host annual competitions like this one, but the lifts themselves may change. There are also conversations about including small semesterly competitions such as bench and squat meets and even strongman-style competitions.

To close out 2022, LIFT is holding an end-of-semester dinner and socializing party. They will also be discussing plans for the spring semester. Future event ideas the club hopes to pursue are squat form sessions, a group trip to the Arnold Sports Festival held in March in Columbus, Ohio and competitive events with nearby universities. LIFT is particularly interested in working with the undergraduate Women’s Weightlifting Club to host an event to empower women who hope to pursue a career in the sports and fitness industry. 

“The CWRU LIFT leadership team […] wanted to build a community that felt like home, built each other up, and pushed one another to accomplish our goals,” reflected Kurr about the essence of LIFT. “We started small, but word about the club spread faster than we anticipated. I am extremely proud of the team for how far we have come as a club, and I am outright honored to call them my friends.”


To learn more about CWRU LIFT, visit the links below:


Instagram: @cwrulift

LinkedIn: @CWRUlift