MOORHEAD - The ground rumbled in the Moorhead High School weight room Tuesday, as weights were lifted into the air and dropped to the floor. Metallica's "For Whom the Bell Tolls" blared out of the speakers after someone quickly turned off Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven."
Moorhead athletes were preparing themselves for sports for the 2015-16 high school sports year. It was summer, barely 8 a.m. and yawns were spreading among the teenagers
Soon-to-be junior Hunter Brandt wasn't yawning. He was incredibly awake.
"Going to the competition and you see the kids that beat you by 4 or 5 pounds and you're like, 'Dang it. If I would have worked a little harder I could have beaten those kids,'" Brandt said with a smile not meant for the early morning. "When you wake up you're like, 'Let's get better.' It inspires you to get better every day."
Brandt had watched his father lift weights and followed in his footsteps as sixth grader. This past year, Brandt found out there were competitions for powerlifting and weightlifting thanks to assistant football coach Cory Hermann. Hermann started powerlifting and weightlifting teams at Moorhead this year and Brandt joined both.
"There's not a lot of kids like him," Hermann said. "He's extremely driven. As far as pushing him into it, I didn't have to. It was him."
Brandt finished fifth at the USA Powerlifting High School Nationals in Milwaukee, Wisc., in March. Powerlifting is squatting, benching and deadlifting. Brandt's best squat was 185 kilograms to go along with a bench of 117½ kilograms and a deadlift of 195 kilograms.
Brandt also qualified for the USA Weightlifting National Youth Championships in Minneapolis this weekend. Between the two weightlifting categories of the snatch and the clean-and-jerk, Brandt can do 200 kilograms total-the equivalent of 440 pounds.
"I like weightlifting more because (you lift the weight) overhead," Brandt said. "You get up there, you haven't done the weight before and everyone is watching. It's dead silence. It's pretty nerve-wracking, but when you get it above your head it's the greatest feeling in the world. You just drop it to the ground. It's the best."
Brandt calls powerlifting and weightlifting his "hobby" between football and track seasons.
"He's here every day," Hermann said. "He's a kid that looks you in the eye, he shakes your hand and he's a "Yes, coach. No, coach," kind of guy. There's no grey area with him."
Brandt is a big North Dakota State football fan, so he has to listen to "Thunderstruck" before every competition. He claps his hands together three times before grabbing the bar and going to work.
The yawns never really disappeared in the Moorhead weight room on Tuesday. Brandt didn't yawn once. He was doing what he loves.
"I've always loved competition," Brandt said. "I could see myself doing this until I'm 40 years old. Obviously, it's a little hard on the body, but it's a fun thing to do."