Weightlifters break records at ND state meet

Fargo North's Ethan Latterner and Sheyenne's Emma Bernath each broke state records in their respective divisions at the NDHS State Weightlifting Meet.

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Ethan Latterner from Fargo North jerking the barbell above his head in the 2023 NDHS State Weightlifting Meet at Sheyenne High School on Saturday, Feb. 18.
Andrew Haugland/The Forum

WEST FARGO — The old adage “records were meant to be broken” held up at the North Dakota High School State Weightlifting meet on Saturday at Sheyenne High School.

Fargo North’s Ethan Latterner broke state records in the snatch, clean-and-jerk and total weight in the 81-kilogram weight division. Latterner snatched 95 kilograms, clean-and-jerked 125 kilograms and totaled 220 kilograms. A kilogram is approximately equal to 2.205 pounds.

Latterner said breaking state records is something he and his family can cherish for life.

“It means the world,” Latterner said. “It’s something that you get to tell your kids. It’s a huge accomplishment. I’m really proud of it.”

After missing his 122 kilograms attempt on the clean-and jerk, Latterner bumped up the weight to 125 kilograms. The move might be shocking to fans, but for him, he'd practiced with the weight so it was just about executing.


"You've hit that weight before, so it's just like a miscue, whatever," Latterner said. "I can hit the next weight. It's not a huge mental block."

He's got a few more meets left in the season before heading to Colorado Springs for the 2023 Junior Nationals from June 24 to July 2. Latterner was first introduced to the sport by a coach who had trained athletes for Olympic weightlifting. He said he fell in love with the sport almost instantly.

Sheyenne's Emma Bernath also broke the state record with a 44-kilogram snatch in the girls 59 kilogram weight division. Bernath said that as a senior she understood that her time on the team was running out, which fueled her record-breaking performance.

"I wasn't expecting to go for a (personal record)," Bernath said. "But being one of my last meets as a senior, I just wanted to go for it and give all that I had. I've been waiting for this meet for a while and preparing really hard."

Bernath got into the sport as a sophomore with help from her brother, who taught her the ropes. She said she is hoping to participate in at least one more meet before she graduates in May.

In North Dakota, the sport of weightlifting is not an NDHSAA-sanctioned sport. Sheyenne strength coach Rollie Swedberg said a few more teams need to be formed in order to make it an official sport..

"We need to try to get like 12 schools involved." Swedberg said. "Then, (the NDHSAA) would look at it and consider it as a potential sport."

He mentioned that since weightlifting is offered to both boys and girls, the sport would make a very viable option for creating an additional sport.


The schools that participated in the meet were Sheyenne, Fargo North, Fargo South, Kindred, Shanley and Devils Lake.

Nicholas Kuehl, from Shanley, moved the most weight in the meet after a 100 kilogram snatch and a 130 kilogram clean-and-jerk. Kuehl said setting the right mindset helps prepare him for competition.

"I just walked in with a strong mindset," Kuehl said. "I was feeling good. I was feeling strong. I just had a lot of energy and I was really excited for (the meet)."

For athletes looking to play collegiate sports, the Olympic lifts the weightlifters compete play a tremendous role in the transition to the next level of sports.

"I tell our kids here 'you are going to do these lifts at the college level,'" Swedberg said. "This is what is going to make you the most explosive college athlete that you could possibly be."

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