Weightlifters show off their power

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At first glance, a group of six Craig residents don't seem to have much in common.

One is 19, and another is 52. The rest fall somewhere in between the two.

One works for the city of Craig, another for Colowyo Coal Company. Two of them are college students, one is a plumber and the other is a police officer in Craig.

They have almost nothing in common except for one thing. They're all very strong.

And they proved it last weekend at the Natural Strength Association Colorado State Championship in Denver.

In the bench press, dead lift and arm curl, the group combined to lift more than 4,000 pounds, took home 19 first-place awards and earned a second-place finish.

What's amazing is most of the group, the newly formed Trapper Health Club Power Lifting Team, had never lifted competitively before.

"It was our first time down there," said Donnie Kendall, who formed the team. "It's the first time Craig has ever had a team."

The idea was sparked last November, when Kendall had carpal tunnel surgery and was in recovery.

"I had a lot of Internet time," he said.

He found the Natural Strength Association (NASA) Web page. He was going to enter the tournament himself but saw there was a team category.

So he started talking to his lifting buddies at Trapper Health Club and they decided to form a team.

The team Kendall put together consisted of himself, Cal Novacek, Larry Mullen, Ryan Hess, Eric Hess and Preston Turk.

"We didn't have a clue what we were getting ourselves into," Turk said.

Kendall agreed.

"I knew Cal would take first," he said of his massive 277-pound teammate Novacek. "And I knew the rest of us would do OK but not as well as we did."

Kendall said he was most impressed by 19-year-old Ryan Hess, who dead lifted 480 pounds.

Novacek agreed.

"Ryan probably could have set a national record for his age group and weight," he said.

With each team member bringing home numerous first-place plaques and trophies, the group is ready to take their act on the road.

The NASA Nationals is in Denver in October, which each lifter qualified for because of their performance at state.

"We'll be ready for Nationals," Mullen said.

And they plan on entering other lifting events that come up.

"That's all I've been doing since I got back," Kendall said.

Each lifter said his first competition inspired him to work harder for more awards in the future.

"We've got a chance at breaking some American records," Kendall said. "We're already thinking about the next meet."

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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