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The Dartmouth
February 27, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Powerlifting team sets records at USPA New Hampshire state championships

The club powerlifting team had athletes qualify for nationals this past weekend, encouraged by a supportive environment that has been actively cultivated by its members.

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Over the past weekend, 10 lifters of the Dartmouth College Powerlifting team competed in the United States Powerlifting Association New Hampshire state championships and four qualified for USPA Nationals — all while breaking over 10 state records. 

Club Powerlifting president Mustafa Baig ’23, who is a competitive lifter for Pakistan, said it was a collective effort to achieve such a feat.

“It’s a team effort and then going into the state championship and breaking state records is reflective of how hard the team is working,” Baig said.

The championship was held for lifters in two divisions: juniors, defined as ages 21 to 23, and open, ages 23 to 40. 

Tanner Jones ’22, one of Dartmouth’s national qualifiers, said that the team recently dialed into the competitive aspect of the sport.

“We just started getting access to train in Floren, and this is the first time we’re doing that,” Jones said. “This is the first year we’ve really started to emphasize the competitive elements.”

Jones won in the 110 kilogram (242.5 pound) weight class at a competition weight of 242 pounds. He set state records in the open division and junior division with a 573.2-pound squat, 287-pound bench press and 557-pound squat. 

“My third squat attempt, it was a big reach attempt — a 20-pound jump from my previous attempt and was 50 pounds more than what I have attempted in the past,” Jones said. 

Jones’s records are impressive, bolstered by his intense training approach.

“In 15 weeks of prep, I performed 926 squats, 884 presses and 306 deadlifts,” Jones said. “My training was a fun experiment with Russian strength methodologies.”

Club Powerlifting co-captain Zippy Abraham Paiss ’23 also secured a spot for nationals. Abraham Paiss exceeded the qualifying numbers for her weight class, 52 kilograms, with a combination weight of 290 kilograms — including her squat, deadlift and bench weight – while the qualifying number was 217 kilograms. 

“On a personal note, definitely excited to qualify, but it’s just one step in the process… now I can train to not just go to nationals, but to medal at nationals,” Abraham Paiss said.

Abraham Paiss, who leads alongside co-captain Nolan Yee ’25, said she finds coaching to be a rewarding experience that provides another avenue to evolve as a lifter. Abraham Paiss said that she has been lifting for about eight years now and says the Dartmouth team has created “a wonderful community to continue [her] learning experience.”

“We have a male and a female in leadership positions and that was really intentional because powerlifting is historically a very male dominated sport,” Abraham Paiss said. “Last term, the team had three females that would come regularly to practice and now there’s 16 females, which is insane.” 

The powerlifting team, which was founded in 2015, has become a support system for many students. Matthew Lamberth ’24, who qualified for junior nationals in the 90 kilogram weight class, said that he appreciates how encouraging the team is of each other.

“When you’re in the gym and you’re about to hit a new personal record, everyone gathers around, everyone is cheering you on,” Lamberth said. “Everyone just wants to see everyone else succeed in a way that is more intense than any other team I’ve ever been a part of.”

But cultivating this space has not been without its challenges. The powerlifting team is a club sport, and thus, the team has to handle these aspects independently from Dartmouth. Powerlifting team vice president, Celeste Ulicki ’24 said that the logistic demands can be challenging. 

“We have support from the school in terms of there’s a club sports department and we have people we can go to when we have questions and we have some funding available,” Ulicki said. “We organize all of our needs, we coordinate transit there, we coordinate sleeping there, we coordinate our fundraisers… so I think it is a lot more laborious from an administrative perspective.”

Ulicki added that her fellow executive board members have worked to create a diverse community of lifters on the team. 

“I think we’ve genuinely done a good job of creating a space where anyone can feel welcome and entitled to be there versus your typical, highly masculinized gym environment where the majority of people wouldn’t feel comfortable,” Ulicki said. 

Many Big Green lifters secured victories this past weekend. Junior lifters who won their weight classes include Katherine Bramante ’26, Sascha Ries ’24, Bill Zheng ’26 and Chris Eaton ’26.

The powerlifting team will be looking forward to USPA nationals in July as well as USAPL nationals in April, a different powerlifting federation. 

Tanner Jones is a former member of The Dartmouth’s Opinion staff.