2021 USA Weightlifting H.S. Throwdown Champions: New Trier (IL)

The New Trier Trevians have done it again. For the second year in a row, Trevian lifters competed in the USA Weightlifting High School Throwdown, a competition that draws athletes from all over the nation. For the second time in a row, they won.

Throughout the month of April, a team of 60 lifters came together to test themselves in Squat, Hang Clean, and Bench Press. Athletes from a variety of teams were represented, including boys and girls water polo, softball, basketball, football, and of course, the Powerlifting team. All told, they lifted nearly 32,000 pounds. Good enough to secure first place by a strong margin.

It wasn’t easy. In training, the Trevians were subject to the ever-changing COVID restrictions. They lifted in masks and in small groups, often early in the morning or late at night. Since the athletic seasons were dramatically reimagined, many of the participants had to find time to test during in-season training. Although the tests aligned with a high-intensity, low volume in-season training program, many of the athletes acknowledge that they their numbers would have been higher, had the competition taken place under more traditional circumstances.

Despite the circumstances, Clayton Genty, co-captain of the varsity football team and Vice President of the powerlifting team, hit a personal best in squat. His 405-pound effort pushed him to a top 5 finish in the 199lb. division.

Although he fared well, Genty notes that “a lot of us probably had ten more pounds in each lift,” since the team was in football season, though he claims “we were still happy to do it. We were just eager to be in the weightroom together. Our goal was not to have everyone lift an all-time best, but to lift the best we can at that time.” He did. They did.

Genty sacks an opposing quarterback.

Two Trevians did enough to take home 1st place in their divisions. Liam Cummins took 1st place in the 169lb division. This was the second individual championship in as many competitions for Cummins, who is a varsity football player and varsity wrestle in addition to being a champion lifter.

Alex Mendes is a varsity football player, a varsity baseball player and – as of this April – a champion lifter as well. Mendes separated himself from the rest of the 189lb division by posting a massive 445lb squat.

As always, the experience is about more than just lifting weights. Head Coach Jim Davis said, “my favorite part of the USAW competition is how inclusive it is. We have powerlifters, football players, artists and future astrophysicists. There are few moments when students from so many different walks of life can come together and compete side by side, it’s really meaningful.”

It’s especially meaningful, he notes, in COVID times. “Now more than ever [the students] can use a win,” he says, giving special credit to the seniors. “After a weird couple of years, I’m glad our seniors can add one more positive moment to their New Trier memory bank.”

Davis was also quick to acknowledge New Trier’s Athletic Director, Augie Fontanetta, for supporting the event. He also notes the efforts by Assistant A.D. Jim Burnside, the Kinetic Wellness strength teachers, and a host of sport coaches for helping provide the opportunity for New Trier students.

“There are so many people to thank,” says Davis, “because this sort of thing doesn’t happen on accident – there are a lot of little pieces that have to be put together, especially this year. I’m fortunate to work with so many great educators.”

President of the Powerlifting team, Ellie Song, noted the social and emotional benefits of the event. “Being part of the club… has given me something to look forward to. Even when your motivation is low, being part of this teams gave me a reason to stay connected with people and keep training.” Stay connected and keep training. It’s a mature insight from Song, a junior who will be back next year and hopes to lead the team to another USAW crown.

“Stay connected and keep training.” When you do, great things can happen.

Congratulations to the Trevians.

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