Students compete in lifting contest

By Lesley Rogers

Five NIU students competed in the 1993 Men’s and Women’s American Drug Free Powerlifting Association’s National Collegiate Championship.

The first weekend in April, NIU students Ken Hedrich, Ross Urso, Dave Faron, Matt Balis and Andy Bramer competed at East Stroudsburg University in East Stroudsburg, Pa., at the National Championship.

The contenders competed in three lifts including squat, bench press and dead lift, and each lifter had three attempts at each lift. Those with the highest total in their weight classes are declared the champion.

Junior Matt Balis took first place honors and is the National Power Lifting Champion in the 242 pound weight class. Balis has been training for four and one-half years, and his workout consists of training four to five days a week.

Balis holds four drug free teenage World Records in squat, bench, deadlift and total. He also won three teenage national championships and three teenage American championships and is training to compete in the men’s nationals next year.

“It’s good to know that you worked hard and beat other people. I met my goals and to know that you’re number one in the nation is awesome,” Balis said.

Marty Grennan, the owner of Power Pro Gym, 1011 W. Hillcrest Drive, and coach of the power lifters, opened Power Pro Gym in January 1990 and graduated from NIU nearly a year later.

“DeKalb needed a gym for people serious about weight lifting and physical fitness,” Grennan said. “I noticed a lot of the guys had potential and I think once people get together to train, other people get motivated to compete.”

Ken Hedrich competed at the National Championship in the 148-pound division. “The competition was very intense. I have never been at a competition with such a high caliber of lifters before. Because it was a national competition, the judging was very strict.”

Hedrich previously took first place in his weight class at the American Drug Free Power Lifting Association. He has been training for 13 years and his goal is to continue to train for next year’s nationals and post a new record in every event.

Taking fourth in the 220 pound weight class was senior Dave Faron. Concentrating on body building for four years, Faron took up power lifting training six months ago.

“This is my third competition. I took second place at the Illinois State competition and fourth in the Omni in Indiana,” Faron said.

Sophomore Andy Braver brought home third place in the 275-pound division and set the American teenage deadlift record. He has trained in power lifting for two years.

All the competitions are drug free, which is important to the athletes. “Being drug free is very important. It’s not really you lifting the weight if you do steroids, it’s the drugs doing it for you,” Braver said.

Drug tests in the forms of polygraph tests, urination samples and blood tests for record setters are given at the competitions. The athletes pride themselves on their commitment to staying drug free.

“Drugs are a big problem. Education is needed, kids need to know about the bad affects it has on you and that you can be successful without using. Kids need to be taught early because once they get older, it’s too late,” Braver said.

Ross Urso took fourth place in the 198-pound weight class. “I started training about six months ago. I just got into it because most of my life I’ve played football,” Urso said. “These guys got me into competing and I liked it and ended up qualifying for nationals.

“In power lifting you do everything yourself. It’s not team-orientated, you make or break yourself,” Urso said.

Power lifting is a chance to meet other people, set goals for yourself and motivate others, Urso said.

Grennan said he feels competition is good for everybody. “It is a lot of fun and it is something that anyone could be competitive at. The competition is a good opportunity and the guys that qualified set records and should make Northern proud,” Grennan said.