USOEC lifters competing in nationals

John Becker

The USOEC weightlifting team will be working hard all summer, competing in multiple championships during the upcoming months.

The team will send six athletes to the 2010 USA National Weightlifting Championships, June 12-14 in Peoria, Ill.

The athletes are graduate student Breanne Carlson, junior Brandon Jackson and freshmen Andrew Vrabel, Michael Evans, Chris Lenahen and Dan Gorelik.

USOEC head coach Andy Tysz said this competition will be fiercer than the National Collegiate Championships were.

“It’s the highest level of domestic completion that we have. Anyone who qualifies is eligible, so the overall depth is going to be greater at this national championship,” he said.

Tysz said weightlifting is a sport where the athletes can take a long time to develop to the elite level, especially for the heavier weightlifters.

Junior Brandon Jackson completes a 150 kg clean and jerk at the 2010 National Collegiate Weightlifting Championships, held at NMU in April. Jackson will lift at the USA National Weightlifting Championships in June. // John Becker / NW

“The mid-to-late 20’s is the maturation range for a weightlifter,” Tysz said.

Carlson, who is a graduate student at NMU, said having no limit on age and college status will only create more rivalries.

“It opens up the competition to a lot of people and it could be tougher,” Carlson said.

Preparing for the competition has restricted Carlson’s leisure time, but she would rather be prepared than pampered.

“[I’m] not going to the beach,” she said. “I’ve been really focusing on my lifting, eating well and going to sleep early.”

Andrew Vrabel said he has also been preparing for the competition by increasing his intensity more.

“I’m training really hard, giving it 100 percent. Been maxing out a lot, getting the movements down,” Vrabel said.

It has only been a short period of time since the last competition in terms of preparing the athletes’ muscles for the strain of maxing out, but Tysz said the athletes are moving from the preparation phase to the competition phase.

Tysz said the preparation phase involves doing more repetitions at a lower weight to build up good form and core muscle.

Then, the athletes move into the competition phase where they perform less reps at a higher weight. The final phase involves maxing out, or performing one rep of the most weight a lifter can bear.

“When you go into a preparation phase, you aren’t starting at zero, but you can’t start right where you left off. You prepare the muscles, joints, ligaments to get ready for those heavy weights again,” he said.

Vrabel, who lifted at the National Collegiate Championships in April, said he would like to perform better at this competition, especially because he is coming off of a previous injury.

“I dislocated a rib, which affected my performance drastically. I wasn’t able to lift as much weight or bear the load nearly as well,” he said.

When he’s lifting, Vrabel tries to clear his mind and just let the muscle memory keep him in good form. By not thinking about it, he said he keeps himself from becoming nervous.

Carlson, on the other hand, said she has a regimen which she goes through in her mind to mentally prepare for a lift.

“I go through a little checklist in my head of my position and what I need to do, and then I do it,” she said.

While the USOEC is performing at the National Championships, two other USOEC athletes will represent the U.S. at the Junior World Weightlifting Championships, June 11-20 in Sofia, Bulgaria. The athletes are Allie Henry and Collin Ito.