“A 3-Peat means a lot to Chicago sports fans,” jokes Jim Davis, long-time coach at New Trier High School (Winnetka, IL), “though I don’t think any of our students were alive when Jordan and the Bulls pulled it off!”
Most of the team has seen The Last Dance, however, so the novelty was not lost. The New Trier Trevians just won their third consecutive USA Weightlifting High School Throwdown, a competition that draws athletes from all over the nation.
Throughout the month of October, a team of 120 lifters came together to test themselves in Squat, Hang Clean, and Bench Press. Athletes from a variety of teams were represented, including football, lacrosse, basketball, football, and (of course) the Powerlifting team. Davis notes that there was great representation from students in the school’s Physical Education classes as well. All told, they lifted more than 57,000 pounds. Good enough to secure first place by a strong margin.
The Trevians were 1st from more than 20 schools across the nation. Marchall Fundamental (Pasadena, California) amassed nearly 30,000lbs to secure 2nd place, and Queen Creek High School (Queen Creek, Arizona) came home with 3rd overall.
Once again, the Trevs had to overcome spacial restrictions and continually evolving COVID-19 guidelines regarding masks and social distancing. In fact, many of their submissions took place outdoors, in what was meant to be a temporary open-air facility created in 2020.
In addition to the team success, two Trevians did enough to take home 1st place in their divisions.
Ellie Song, President of NT’s Powerlifting team, took 1st place in her division. Song is no stranger to the top spot. She has competed 7 times since freshman year and come home with 5 golds, though “you’d never know it,” says Davis.
Song is “humble and kind, hard-working and really smart,” he said, adding, “she is the counterbalance to what someone off the street might think of when they hear the term ‘powerlifter’ – she’s just a really great person who happens to be an elite athlete.”
Alex Mendes was the other big winner for the Trevians. Mendes took home gold for the second time in a row, though his path was a serious challenge. COVID accommodations pushed Illinois’ football season to spring last year – Mendes played that season, broke his leg, healed, rehabbed, trained hard, then picked up again for his second football season in 6 months, had a knee injury, rehabbed, continued training, and competed. Mendes, also humble, said that “the numbers weren’t my best, but I put out the best I had and it was good enough to win and help the team win.”
Ryan Fenner, VP of the Powerlifting team, took 2nd place in a difficult division, a mere 10 lbs away from the top spot. His 425lb back squat was tied for second place overall from a field of nearly 300 lifters.
As always, the experience is about more than just lifting weights. Jim Davis said, “my favorite part of the USAW competition is how inclusive it is. We have powerlifters, football players, artists, musicians, 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 another positive moment to their high school 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.”
Song also noted the social and emotional benefits of the event. “Being part of the team… 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 senior who hopes to leave a meaningful legacy on the program.
“Stay connected and keep training.” When you do, great things can happen.
Congratulations – again – to the Trevians.