Weightlifting building confidence for Moorhead lifters after hosting state tournament

The Spuds made history this weekend hosting their first ever state weightlifting tournament, but this team is giving back to both students in coaches in ways bigger than any weight.

Moorhead High School senior Chrisanto D'Agostino recently took first place at the National Junior Championships for weightlifting in Pleasanton, Calif. He also plays baseball for the Spuds. Special to The Forum

MOORHEAD-- For many high school athletes, hitting the weight room is part of the routine. At Moorhead High School though, competitive weight lifting is quickly becoming popular despite not being a sanctioned high school league sport yet in Minnesota.

“This is just another day in the office for us,” said senior Connor Heinsch.

It’s the sport at Moorhead that keeps on growing, a test of strength on full display at the state weightlifting championships.

“It’s probably one of the highlights for the year. This is the ultimate goal, the end goal for every single athlete that is in this sport. So just to be here finally, it’s amazing,” said Heinsch.


“I think it is a lot of fun, it’s definitely not something I thought I would be doing, but I think anybody should do it. I just decided to join last year for my freshman year and I thought it was a lot of fun so I decided to continue it,” said sophomore Emily Stramm.

The Spuds weightlifting team began in 2016, since then nearly 60 lifters make up the boy’s and girl’s rosters.

“The first season ever was 2016 and we only had a dozen or so lifters and it just caught like wildfire,” said Moorhead assistant Coach John Lubitz.

“I actually took it as a gym class and I fell in love with it so much that I decided I would keep going into the season and work my hardest to get better,” said senior Mackenzie Neuhalfen.

“I was looking for a winter sport and I like to do more individual sports and it was super fun. The moment I started it, I loved it. I get up there and I set a routine before that I just grab the barbell and go, so I don’t have to think about anything when I get up there. It’s all just go time,” said senior Regan Erdmann.

Every lifter’s journey to be a part of this team is different, but with each snatch and every clean is a new found confidence.

“It means a lot, weightlifting is very different than doing basketball, or swimming, soccer, all the usual sports that everyone does. This is a sport for you,” said Neuhalfen.


“It’s amazing, because you really don’t sacrifice anything in competing here. It’s that test of how much strength you actually have built within you. So it’s just a great confidence boost for other sports. It’s such a great sport to help build just speed, and agility, and strength. Just explosiveness for any sport, football, baseball. Lifting affects every single sport, it also builds confidence for people, so I think as this sport starts to grow it’s going to help athletes grow and become more skilled.” said Heinsch.

Weightlifting empowered Emily Stramm so much that she earned a state title in only her second year on the team.

“Crazy, I felt like I was on top of the world,” said Stramm.

“To see her and everyone else today get what they want and more, it means so much because they work so hard,” said Neuhalfen.

“It’s not about you versus another athlete for example, it’s about you versus the weight on the bar. So that just makes it even more fun and the weight room is always really, really electric, and it’s a really fun place to be. Everyone is cheering each other on, and in my opinion it’s the funnest sport we have,” said Lubitz.

The Spuds though aren’t stopping here. Next is working to make weightlifting a Minnesota State High School League sport, while even sending a handful of lifters to nationals.

“Even when I came in a few years ago, I knew we were going to make a splash at the state level, but to make that big of a splash at the national level, it’s really humbling. It’s not just something that's going to make them bigger, faster, stronger, it’s also something that is going to make them more confident people and more confident adults. That to me is the most rewarding thing about the sport,” said Lubitz.

The Spuds finished *second* in the team standings on Saturday and crowned six lifters as state champions. Next is nationals, where *three* qualified in different age levels. That is set for June in Detroit.

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