Local powerlifter set to compete in world semis
West Fargo's Jason Ehlert is slated to compete in the World Powerlifting Organization's 2023 men's semifinal on April 1 in Lombard, Illinois.
WEST FARGO — After a dominant performance at a Twin Cities Barbell powerlifting event, Jason Ehlert received an invitation to go toe-to-toe with the best powerlifters across the globe.
Ehlert, 45, of West Fargo, and has been competing in powerlifting competitions for more than 15 years. When the World Powerlifting Organization (WPO) extended an invitation to the veteran powerlifter, Ehlert said all the years of strenuous training had finally paid off.
"I've worked really hard to get to this stage," Ehlert said. "We've been able to put a plan together now, where now I can put in the bench together to get my numbers up to that elite total."
After shoulder troubles hindered his performance in the bench press, Ehlert said his coach Joe Grosz helped him reconstruct his technique to maximize the weight in the exercise.
Ehlert qualified for the WPO semifinals after he totaled 1,095 kilograms (2,414 pounds) at the TCBB Holiday Throwdown powerlifting meet in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota, last November. He squatted 490, bench pressed 237.5 and pulled 367.5 kilograms in the deadlift.
The two-day event on April 1-2 will feature 60 of the WPO's top-lifters. Ehlert has a chance to punch his ticket to the finals in Jacksonville, Florida, with a Top-15 finish among competitors on the first day.
The WPO, which operates out of Jacksonville, selects competitors based on the previous year's event scores. The organization's website says that "the WPO begins with the highest scores registered from our data and selections are made" for viable candidates.
Ehlert began his weightlifting career while in high school to keep in shape for sports. He continued to stay active in weight training even after his playing days.
"I just kept that passion going," Ehlert said. "I've been lifting for over 30 years and it's just been something that I really enjoy doing."
He entered his first competition "many, many, many years ago," in Yankton, South Dakota. Ehlert said he developed an affinity for the sport after seeing how official the competition was run.
"I fell in love with the sport from there," Ehlert said. "It's always been fun lifting weights moving the heavy iron, but actually having that proof, that documentation, goes a long way."
With competition judges, he said that there is proof that someone actually accomplished a successful lift.
Ehlert continued to participate in powerlifting competitions around the region and finally hit a 1,000-pound squat in 2012. A goal that he carried with him for a long time.
"It was the culmination of a lot of hard work and efforts," he said. "(The feat) was something that I dreamed up since I started lifting weights."
After hitting a 900-pound squat previously, the next feat was 1,000 and then a touch more.
"I was really looking to try and do 1,000 pounds and that second attempt I did it," Ehlert said. "It felt so good and I had the adrenaline running. The meet promoter came over and asked if I was going to do a third attempt. I said, yeah let's do it. I shot for a 1,036 (pounds squat) and got that weight."
Ehlert also co-owns a gym called Edgar's House of Pain, which houses Dakota Barbell, with Anthony Karlquist. The gym is "a powerlifting and strongman gym" in south Fargo. Dakota Barbell is hosting a strongman competition called "Strongest on the Prarie" at the Red River Valley Fair on July 15.
Through the ups-and-downs of the sport, there is one person that has been a driving factor for Ehlert.
"My wife has been amazing in her support to do all of this for my powerlifting career. Without her I could have never done it," he said.
The opportunity to compete at one of the highest levels of the sport serves as a motivational driver for the veteran lifter.
"I'm grateful for the strength that I've been blessed with," Ehlert said. "The connections that I've made in this community and the strength community. I'm excited and very humbled to go represent North Dakota at this competition."