“Scary Strong” Creatures Sighted in Northfield, IL

By Chris Dertz

A day before Halloween, monstrous feats of strength were on display at New Trier High School (Northfield, IL) at the Illinois High School Powerlifting Association (IHSPLA) “Scary Strong” regional meet…. a unique, outdoor event.

Approximately 40 lifters representing Sandburg, New Trier, Eastland, Waukegan, and Mundelein high schools gathered on a beautiful fall day for a unique outdoor meet held in the courtyard of the New Trier freshman campus building.

After weighing in, adjusting rack heights, warming up, and enjoying hot cider and donuts, the competition kicked off with the squat. Among the most impressive squats performed included New Trier’s Ellie Song’s 300lbs on her 3rd attempt, double her bodyweight. Eastland Cody Cole, competing in the men’s 165lbs division, squatted 350lbs on his final attempt, almost 200lbs over his bodyweight. 

Double-bodyweight squats were also recorded by New Trier’s Asher Fabes (315lbs) and Justin Crasko (355lbs) in the 165 and 181 divisions. Three lifters cracked the 400lbs boundary including New Trier’s Ryan Fenner (425lbs), Waukegan’s Gabriel Lopez (405lbs), and New Trier’s Maxwell Jiang (405lbs). 

Moving on to the bench press, big lifts by the ladies were recorded by New Trier’s Song (125lbs) and Meg Denberg (115lbs), Sandburg’s Danielle Antoine (110lbs), Peyton Bush (120lbs), and Gretchen Stevoorden (115lbs), and Eastland’s Macie Hamblen (100lbs). Several of the men turned in bench presses well over their bodyweight including Cole from Eastland (195lbs), Fabes from New Trier (220lbs), and both Max Eberle (200lbs) and Tom Locke (250lbs). Locke’s 250lbs press was almost 100lbs over his bodyweight! 

In the men’s 181 division, New Trier’s Crasko (185lbs), Aleksei Vara from Waukegan (185lbs), and Ian Woolny (225lbs) and John Mazenko (220lbs) both exceeded their bodyweight on the bench press. Rounding out the biggest bench presses among the men were Jayden Salazar (205lbs) from New Trier and Sandburg’s Jeremy Johnson (260lbs) in the 198 weight class In the men’s 220lbs division, big presses were recorded by Ryan Fenner (285lbs) from New Trier, Arhan Atreya (265lbs) from Sandburg, and the top Bench-Only lifter of the day was Sandburg’s Kevin Zimmer, who pressed 315 lbs.

The day ended with the competitors pulling some huge deadlifts. Antoine from Sandburg (200lbs), Song from New Trier (225lb), Natalie Lagunas (270lbs) from Sandburg and Hamblen (215) from Eastland all cracked the 200lbs barrier. Several of the men in the competition broke the 400lbs plateau including Fabes (415lbs), Fenner (445lbs), Salazar (405lbs), and Jiang (435lbs) from New Trier, Vara (400lbs) and Anaji Collins (450lbs) from Waukegan. Johnson (455lbs), Atreya (415lbs), and Karim Elsnkary (405lbs) from Sandburg rounded out the 400lbs pullers. The biggest deadlift of the meet belonged to Waukegan’s Gabriel Lopez, turning in a massive 515lbs pull on his final attempt.

In the team competition, Sandburg dominated the field and took 1st Place with 177 points, New Trier came in 2nd with 126 points and Eastland came in 3rd with 43 points.

Most importantly, all in attendance demonstrated the characteristics we look for in an event like this: grit, focus, and support. Glad to be back alongside the IHSPLA community!

Individual Division Winners

Claire Porwancher,New Trier

Gianna Sanchez, New Trier

Seca Senese, Sandburg

Danielle Antoine, Sandburg

Ellie Song, New Trier

Natalie Lagunas, Sandburg

Sophie Eid, Sandburg

Macie Hamblen, Eastland
Asher Fabes, New Trier

John Mazenko, Sandburg

Jeremy JohnsonSandburg

Ryan Fenner, New Trier

Gabriel Lopez, Waukegan

Maxwell Jiang, New Trier

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