Sports

Darrington powerlifters bring home medals

The Elite Underground Gym of Darrington sent four lifters to Nationals in Anaheim, Calif. The gym includes, from left, Mathias Metzger, Trish Dawson, Shayla Hooper, Al Dawson, Trevor Herston, and Conner Rounds. -
The Elite Underground Gym of Darrington sent four lifters to Nationals in Anaheim, Calif. The gym includes, from left, Mathias Metzger, Trish Dawson, Shayla Hooper, Al Dawson, Trevor Herston, and Conner Rounds.
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Four members of the Elite Underground gym of Darrington spent a week in November competing at the National Weightlifting Championships in Anaheim, Calif.
Gym owner Al Dawson along with three of his protegees competed in the largest such competition in the country. Three members of the group finished with gold medals including Dawson, Conner Rounds and Trevor Herston. The Nov. 15-20 event brought together the best powerlifters from across the country.
Dawson, competing in the masters division of ages 47-53, deadlifted 667 pounds, a Washington record. Rounds competed at the 220 pound division of 18-19 year olds. He put up another Washington record of 584 pounds. Herston, competing in the 198 pound division of 18-19 year olds lifted 540 pounds, another record for competitors from Washington. The fourth member of Elite Underground that made the trip, Mathias Metzger, also fared well at nationals. He placed third in his division and according to Dawson was hurt by a judges decision on a slight technicality.
Its strictly judged, said Dawson, and we thought Mathias pulled a 468 deadlift. The judge ruled against it so he had to settle for 435. It was a personal record for Mathias anyway.
The contest had unique rules, tightly enforced by three judges. Two judges on either side of the lifter monitor the position of the bar, while a front judge checks for proper form. If the bar drops even a millimeter on the way up the lift is ruled illegal. The rule helps to prevent unsafe lifts, or bouncing from the contestants.
You get three attempts, said Dawson. You can always go up in weight but you cannot go down. There are a lot of different approaches, but the key is to establish that base weight. After that, you can try for big numbers. If you get within 35 pounds of a world record on your third lift the judges allow you a fourth attempt.
Rounds did receive a fourth attempt during his lift, a high honor. It was Rounds girlfriend Shayla Hooper who helped finance the trip. Hooper organized a chili feed in Darrington to help the lifters raise funds.
I would like to thank the town of Darrington for their huge support, said Dawson. My wife and I have been financing this out of our pocket for the last year and we werent sure how we would make it to nationals. Helping these kids has been so great to me, we decided we wanted to make the trip no matter what. What Shayla did, it makes a guy want to cry. I didnt realize how much support there was in this town. We raised $1,300 which made the trip a lot easier on all of us.
Dawson has plans to continue the program, bringing on more young people in the coming years.
I want this to go on next year as well, and the year after, said Dawson. We get a lot more done in that gym than just training. I share my experience with these kids and help to keep them focused. We stress education and good decision making. I like to see these kids say, I tried. I gave it my all.

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