Jasper Powerlifters REPresent a strong community at the MC Powerlifting Competition

By Karen Flores, Asst. Features Editor

A white board hangs in the MC fitness center with the names of previous Jaspers who showcased their strength and set records within the powerlifting community. On Dec. 1, current Jaspers put their strengths to the test and set out to put their names on the board during this semester’s powerlifting competition. 

Jay Ahmed, director of the fitness center, reflected about his first time experiencing the powerlifting competition when he began working in MC during the fall of 2018. 

“I first started here in fall 2018,” Ahmed said. “The competition was just the lift and it was mostly just the close knit powerlifting community competing. There wasn’t much outreach amongst the general population. There were no medals or awards. I think they just got gift cards or something like that. So when I officially became director, I wanted to make the event more exciting by adding showmanship and awards.” 

The competition had previously been done once a year. Ahmed then began to host it every semester. This semester the competition was back in full force after being put on hold due to the pandemic and Ahmed was delighted at the turnout of competitors. 

“We were able to do it for about two years and then the pandemic happened. Some people can’t participate in a certain semester, so we started and ended up expanding to two semesters,” said Ahmed. “I was pleasantly surprised the signup roster filled up after the first day of recruitment for the men’s. At this time, we have three females and there will only be 20 males due to time constraints. It’s grown to a large number of interests, which I’m really happy about.” 

The competition consisted of three lifts in the following order: squat, bench and deadlift. The competitors were given three attempts for each lift. Their rankings were based on the Schwatz Malone formula, which allows for strength to be determined pound for pound. 

“We used the Schwatz Malone formula. What we do is we take your body weight and we add a coefficient that corresponds to said weight. Then we multiply that with the highest weight lifted. That’s how they get their points and how we will rank first, second and third place. So technically, it’s pretty much you’re competing against yourself,” explained Ahmed. “If somebody’s the exact same body weight as you, that’s when things can get really close, but overall it’s just you and how much you can lift from your bodyweight.” 

Nicholas Cruz, a former student of Ahmed’s, was the judge at the event. He is a powerlifter himself as well as a strength coach at Columbia University. This is Cruz’s third time being the judge at the powerlifting competition at MC. He enjoys seeing the support and excitement that comes from the competitors as they test their strength. 

“It’s my third time doing it here. The community is awesome. They’re very supportive. Everyone wants each other to succeed. There’s a competitive aspect to it, but everyone’s still supported the whole way,” Cruz said. 

Adriane Torres, a junior computer information systems major with a minor in economics, was one out of the three women competing in the competition. She said that despite there being a small number of women, she hopes that she and her peers can inspire others to join in on these competitions. 

“It can be intimidating to start getting into weights especially for women who aren’t used to seeing women compete in strength competitions. But even though there’s only three girls here competing, hopefully it can spark an interest in another girl that’s like, ‘oh, I can do it next because these four girls can do it’,” Torres said. 

Steve Matthew, a sophomore computer engineering major, was one of the men partaking in the competition. Matthew believes that the powerlifting community at Manhattan is incredibly supportive and welcoming of each other. 

“There’s no hate within this community. Everybody sees each other grow and if someone needs help or tips, they are always there and willing to help you become better and stronger. It’s great,” Matthew said. 

Aleena Jacob, sophomore electrical engineering major, had seen the poster of the powerlifting competition previously and decided she would go to support Matthew, who is her friend. She was happy to see everyone compete and enjoyed her time there. 

“So I saw the flier and was interested and my friend [Steve Matthew] is in the competition, so I’m supporting him. I think it’s [powerlifting]  a great way to get active and it’s also a good community. The competition is great to watch and I’m enjoying it,” said Jacob.

Ahmed hopes that this competition will spark interest on campus and encourages people to join for the competition next semester. 

“We’re really thrilled by the response from the campus community, for the participation and just for the interest,” Ahmed said. “So if anyone wants to participate, they’re more welcome to sign up for the spring semester. Everyone is welcome!”