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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Just weighting around

    UA senior Matt Koren deadlifts over 500 pounds at the Wildcat House on Stone Avenue and Lester Street on Saturday morning. Koren and senior Dave Modica, background in blue, continue to get stronger so that they can beat their own personal lifting records.
    UA senior Matt Koren deadlifts over 500 pounds at the Wildcat House on Stone Avenue and Lester Street on Saturday morning. Koren and senior Dave Modica, background in blue, continue to get stronger so that they can beat their own personal lifting records.

    UA seniors Dave Modica and Matt Koren prepared for their Saturday weightlifting meet by flipping an 800-pound tractor four blocks down East Waverly Street. They also spent about five to six days a week in the gym straining under barbells to get ready, but that didn’t win nearly as much attention. Curious passersby didn’t know what was going on, but they stopped to offer advice and assistance anyway.

    “”We’ll be flipping it down the street and people will come out of their house and say, ‘You know it’s easier if you roll it,'”” Modica said.

    “”Or the best is when people are driving by and they’ll ask if we need help and we’ll say, ‘No we’re just doing this for exercise.'”” Koren said. “”But they’ll say, ‘No, no we’ll help you!’ and they get out of the car and we’re like, ‘Don’t try to lift it, you’ll hurt yourself.’ The guy will try to lift it and his back looks like it’s about to spring out.

    “”There’s heckles,”” he added.

    Heckles don’t seem to bother Modica and Koren, though. For them, weightlifting is a self-improvement sport. It’s not so much about the other guy; it’s about what you can do. They entered Saturday’s Push and Pull Challenge not only to compete, but mostly to set new personal records.

    They’re pretty much your ordinary gym rats. These are two guys who met each other in the dorms their freshman year, got jobs working together at Silver Mine Subs, and work out together like anybody else at the Student Recreation Center. It’s an average existence, but they can each deadlift 500 pounds, lifting the weight from a resting position on the ground.

    “”I think it’s fun – the results, you know. Today there’s a weight you can’t pick up and then in two months you can pick it up three times,”” Modica said.

    “”We thought we had crazy lofty goals, but we passed them up three months ago,”” Koren added.

    The competition started at 9 a.m. Saturday at the Wildcat House on North Stone Avenue and East Lester Street. It was early for drinks, but anyone not nursing a hangover from Friday night could pull up to the bar to take in a beer and some heavy lifting. The kitchen fired up a couple cheeseburgers for breakfast. A modest contingent of weightlifters and their friends and families filled the empty tables and benches in the club ready to cheer.

    Modica and Koren were in good spirits. There were fewer entrants than they expected. At the meet, Modica and Koren found out they would be the only two lifters in their weight class, but Modica brushed that off. Two weightlifters or 200 weightlifters, he’s still competing against himself.

    “”We’re still going for a personal record,”” he said as he started to warm up.

    Once the first flight of weightlifters started the bench press it became clear that this wasn’t going to be a pissing contest. The competitors lifted each other up as much as they did their own weights. A spindly looking kid in a Spider-Man singlet got cheers of, “”Go Spidey, go!”” There were high fives and hugs for good lifts and pats on the back for a good effort. Pumping iron was as nurturing as you could imagine it. You could almost see yourself lifting a couple hundred pounds with that many people behind you.

    Before the meet, Koren described the camaraderie of the weightlifting community, especially at a meet.

    “”They’re encouraging you. They want to see you lift that weight. They’re not saying, ‘He can’t do it,'”” Koren said.

    “”I think there are a lot of people out there who go to the gym, very fitness-minded, who would like to compete in a fun atmosphere, not an overly serious atmosphere,”” said

    Chris Lomuto, part-owner of Balance Fitness, a gym that sponsored the event. “”This isn’t about coming in here and setting world records, this is more like playing softball on the weekends with your buddies.””

    Koren lifts 275 pounds on the bench press and Modica lifts 325 pounds, but the big event is the deadlift. After his first lift, Koren went for 500 pounds on his first attempt. He’d never lifted that much before. He strained with exertion, furrowed his brow and as he executed the lift the crowd cheered. It was a new personal record.

    As if 500 pounds and a personal record weren’t enough, Koren got even more ambitious for his second lift. He jacked up the weight to 510 pounds. Lee Johnson, a veteran announcer at power lifting meets and bodybuilding contests, narrated the scene over the speakers.

    “”This could be a perfect meet. He hasn’t missed a lift yet,”” he said.

    Koren dug down and pulled the weight up. This time he actually held it up for a few seconds and nodded to the crowd. The weight dropped to the ground and you could feel the floor shake slightly. Another personal record.

    “”I thought he was gonna do a second rep there,”” Johnson said over the speakers.

    Modica lifted 510 pounds and then 520 pounds, also a personal record.

    “”When you’re in front of people your adrenaline’s pumping. It’s something you can’t get in the gym,”” Modica said.

    That’s three personal records between the two. Not bad.

    The next step? Modica said they would be back in the gym the following week and working toward their next personal records.

    “”The fun thing about it is you always want that increase, you have a goal, and your goal keeps increasing,”” Koren said before the meet. After a banner day, his attitude was the same. “”Back to the drawing board,”” he said.

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