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John Vercauteren, a sophomore offensive lineman on the Lakeland College football team, finished first in his weight class and second in team pound-for-pound at the U.S. A. Powerlifting State Powerlifting Meet in Milwaukee on Jan. 28.
Vercauteren, who competed at the 242-pound weight class in the Teen Division, lifted a total of 1,480 pounds, including 600 pounds in squat, 501 pounds in the dead lift and a state-record 380 pounds in the bench press.
Distinct from weightlifting, a sport made up of two lifts, powerlifting consists of three lifts: the squat, bench press and deadlift. Competitors get three attempts at each discipline with the highest lift counting towards the total.
The USAPL is a drug-free powerlifting organization that is a member of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF), the governing body of powerlifting internationally. The IPF is comprised of member federations from eighty-three countries on six continents.
Vercauteren became interested in the sport in high school after realizing the importance for strength and mass on the football field.
"I've always wanted to be strong," said Vercauteren. "I remember watching the 1998 World's Strongest Man competition and wanting to be like that, so I started to get active in the sport and its stuck with me ever since."
Vercauteren was a senior in high school at his first competition and by the time he was ready for his second, he had invested in a squat suit and knee wraps. While there, he met Matt Gunville, one of Wisconsin's best raw lifters at the 242-pound class and a 2002 Lakeland College graduate.
"It was by chance that I met Matt," said Vercauteren. "He's been helping me out ever since and spends a lot of his own personal time training me. If it wasn't for Matt, I wouldn't still be in powerlifting."
The 6-foot-1 powerlifter will compete in his last Teen Division meet this June at the Badger Open Meet in Neenah, Wis. Vercauteren hopes to break the teen squat record of 625 pounds, extend his bench record to well-over 400 pounds, break the total weight record and even take a shot at the dead lift record, all before he turns 20-years-old on July 13.
"I'm not concerned with where I place," said Vercauteren. "I look to break records and always strive for personal bests."