Powerlifting’s Future: Sub-Junior and Junior World Championships in Romania

The future of powerlifting will be on full display at the Sub-Junior and Junior World Championships in Cluj Napoca Romania, where Powerlifting America is sending a team of 59 athletes in what promises to be one of the most exciting championships of the year. The competition features 654 of the world’s best Sub-Juniors and Juniors from 55 countries, competing in both Equipped and Classic (Raw) divisions. Equipped runs August 24-27 and Classic runs August 27 – September 3.

The American team has many athletes returning from last year’s World Championships in Turkey as well as new faces making their debut on the world’s stage. Starting with the Junior Equipped Women, Bella Vargas is a clear standout. Bella is the reigning 57kg University National Champion and she’s nominated in first place with a 487.5kg total, a whopping 120kg clear of her closest competitor. She recently sat down with the Powerlifting America Podcast, listen to her interview here. Also keep an eye out for rising stars Jasmine Barlow (43kg), Lola Cheramie (52kg), Aeryn Anderson (69kg) and Haileigh Lupo (76kg), who have only aged into the Juniors this year, making them the youngest lifters in their age group. All four of these women have international experience, with Jasmine competing in the Open World Championships last year in Denmark, Lola and Haileigh winning the Sub-Junior World Championships last year in Turkey, and Aeryn winning the North American Championships last year in Panama.

Among the Sub-Juniors, Natalie Estrada (43kg), Katherine Cargill (69kg) and Mackenzie Wells (84kg) sit atop their divisions by 17.5kg, 32.5kg, and 25kg respectively. Vanessa Chavira (76kg) is nominated second in the 76kg class, but only 10kg shy of the top spot. Daige Love and Mikayla Forsythe are nominated in 2nd and 3rd in the +84kg division in what is shaping up to be an American duel in the midst of an exciting 4 woman battle with two lifters from Chinese Taipei.

On the Men’s side, the Equipped Juniors are anchored by the 105kg “monster” Chase Lawton entering with an 815kg total, Chandler Loescher (120kg) with 792.5kg total, and Luke Mellon (+120kg) with 832.5kg. Chase and Chandler are among the youngest in their division, having aged into the Juniors only this year after winning the Sub-Junior World Championships last year in Turkey. Luke is nominated in second and will look to defend that position from Philippe Parage, son of the IPF President Gaston Parage in what should be a fun battle.

In the Sub-Juniors, Jonathan Becerril (53kg) sits atop the nominations with a 30kg lead, along with Cael McDaniel (120kg) who has a 52.5kg lead. Ariyo Sanyaolu (105kg) is set to make a splash, posting up an impressive 727.5kg performance back in March at High School Nationals which has him nominated in second and within striking distance of gold if he has a good day. Kellen Meyers (+120kg) might have the most exciting battle for first place in this group, nominated only 10kg behind the leader. Both Kellen and Ariyo have had a lot of time to add to their totals which should make their matchups even closer than the nominations would suggest. Lastly, Nicolas Calidonia (59kg) could be the sleeper pick of the entire competition and finish in first despite being nominated last in sixth place. Calidonia underperformed at High School Nationals due to a tough weight cut and has since moved up a class while adding kilos to all of his lifts.

Moving into the Classic competition, the Junior Men have some heavy hitters with Kyle Nowak (66kg) and Anthony McNaughton (105kg) both nominated in first. Kyle is 20kg clear of 2nd at 662.5kg and will almost certainly break the Open World Record deadlift and possibly the Junior World Record total. Anthony is 27.5kg ahead in his division, nominated with an 875kg total, and looking for redemption from his performance at Worlds last year. Anthony totaled 900kg in a local meet earlier this year and is capable of going well into the 900s with a total that would be competitive in the Open division where he’ll be competing next year.

Bodie LaCoe (59kg) is nominated 3rd at 562.5kg a solid 30kg ahead of 4th place, but may also be eyeing his older brother Dalton’s total from a week ago at the NAPF Regional Championships, which was good for 4 gold medals. With no one threatening him for second, he’s free to try and best his brother in one of the most fun sibling rivalries in the sport right now.

In the 93kg division two Americans are in the hunt for gold in one of the most competitive weight classes in the entire championships. Shane Nutt is nominated 2nd at 818kg while his newfound rival Peyton Johnson is nominated 5th at 812.5. This duel promises to be all the more exciting as they have to battle 6 other podium contenders. The fates of 83kg Connor Heim and Alex Sydor are equally uncertain. Connor is nominated 6th at 743kg, 22kg shy of the first, while Alex is nominated 11th at 722kg with an artificially low total due to illness at Nationals this year. Their division, which features 28 competitors, contains 17 men at 700kg or better and promises to be an absolute dogfight that will come down to the slimmest of margins. Lastly, Paul Harayo (120kg) is nominated in 7th, but only 15.5kg from making the podium. Paul’s training has been on fire and he looks more than up for the challenge.

The Sub-Junior Men have strong contenders starting with Daniel Harris (66kg) nominated 2nd in his division by just 5kg at 527.5kg. Jack Reynolds and Nicolas Gaines are nominated 1-2 in the 74kg class at 612kg and 611.5kg respectively, set to write the next chapter of their rivalry that sparked at Nationals in June. Joseph Tyler (83kg) and Trevor Klein (120kg) are both nominated in 3rd at 663.5kg and 692.5kg respectively, setting some thrilling podium battles. Lastly, James Kellerman (105kg) is a potential dark-horse nominated in 4th with a 672.5kg total achieved way back in March to win High School Nationals. Since then he’s won the Sub-Junior Bench Press World Championships in South Africa and has had plenty of time to add kilos to his total.

On the Women’s side, the Juniors will face some tough competition at these World Championships. One of the the most anticipated duels will be in the 63kg class between Daisy Arreola Garcia and Joy Rindfleisch. These two will face off once again after going head to head at Nationals that came down to final attempts. Daisy is nominated in 7th at 445.5kg while Joy sits in 9th at 433.5. Daisy has chosen the strategic path of keeping her training hidden, making her progress harder to gauge, while Joy, the youngest Junior in the field, has been posting near weekly PRs on social media, showing that a bench World Record and a podium finish could be within reach. Carolyn Connor (69kg) is another American favorite that has been hitting substantial PRs in training. She’ll also be fighting for a podium spot, nominated in 4th at 470.5kg. Powerlifting America’s two best prospects for the podium, however, are Jessica Kinney (76kg) nominated in 2nd at 525.5kg and Antara Jackson (84kg) sitting in 3rd at 480kg.

The Sub-Juniors feature several rising stars. Jessica Haggerty (52kg) and Eleni Guerrera (57kg) are both nominated in 2nd at 327.5kg and 375kg, trailing by only 5kg and 4kg respectively. Haggerty will need a big subtotal to force her opponents to load something out of reach on deadlift while Eleni, who has looked unstoppable in training, will most likely be in a position to pull for the win and deadlift World Record. Eleni recently joined the Powerlifting America Podcast, listen to her interview here.

The +84kg Classic Sub-Juniors mimic the Equipped with two Americans, Chealsea Enemor and Luella Bowden battling for podium spots against Chinese Taipei. This time, however, the Americans are nominated 1 and 2 with Chealsea at 540kg and Luella at 530kg. But these nominations are misleading, as Luella Bowden was able to add 52.5kg to her total very recently at the NAPF Regional Championships where she broke the Junior and Sub-Junior squat World Record. Bowden nearly took the bench record as well, narrowly missing 122.5kg on her third.  Enemor has been steadily improving as well, with a historically stronger bench and deadlift than Bowden, which means that both women will have to go 9/9 without leaving any kilos on the table if they want to win gold. Chealsea was on the Powerlifting America Podcast recently, listen to her interview here.

Finally, it would be wrong not to mention 16 year old superstar Sub-Junior Eva Polini (63kg) who is competing in both Equipped and Classic. Eva is the youngest lifter on the Powerlifting America team, but has international experience after competing at Sub-Junior Worlds last year in Turkey. She’s nominated in 6th in Equipped and 5th in Classic, only 2.5kg away from making the podium in Classic.

Powerlifting America will have a media team in Romania doing press conferences, interviews, behind the scenes coverage and more. Subscribe on YouTube and follow on Instagram @powerlifting_america so you don’t miss anything.

Check out the latest episode of Monday Night Live for more analysis on the Sub-Junior and Junior World Championships.

Click here for the full competition schedule and live broadcast links.

Equipped Women


Jasmine Barlow, 43kg, Nominated Total 212.5kg

Lola Cheramie, 52kg, Nominated Total 312.5kg

Bella Vargas, 57kg, Nominated Total 487.5kg

Karen Nguyen, 57kg, Nominated Total 335kg

Kasee Sketoe, 69kg, Nominated Total 437.5kg

Aeryn Anderson, 69kg, Nominated Total 360kg

Haileigh Lupo, 76kg, Nominated Total 422.5kg

Equipped Women 


Natalie Estrada, 43kg, Nominated Total 265kg

Jayla Johnson, 47kg, Nominated Total 312.5kg

Gracie Cassidy, 57kg, Nominated Total 352.5kg

Eva Polini, 63kg, Nominated Total 385kg

Katherine Cargill, 69kg, Nominated Total 452.5

Vanessa Chavira, 76kg, Nominated Total 410kg

MacKenzie Wells, 84kg, Nominated Total 435kg

Daige Love, +84kg, Nominated Total 510kg

Mikayla Forsythe, +84kg, Nominated Total 490kg

Equipped Men


Landon Diepenbrock, 66kg, Nominated Total 557.5kg

Jacob Pennington, 74kg, Nominated Total 620kg

Chase Lawton, 105kg, Nominated Total 815kg

Bailey McKenzie, 105kg, Nominated Total 640kg

Chandler Loescher, 120kg, Nominated Total 792.5kg

Luke Mellon, +120kg, Nominated Total 832.5kg

Equipped Men


Jonathan Bacerril, 53kg, Nominated Total 465kg

John Sylvera, 59kg, Nominated Total 460kg

Nicolas Calidonia, 59kg, Nominated Total 440kg

Lawson Lilo, 74kg, Nominated Total 620kg

Levi Cowart, 93kg, Nominated Total 645kg

Ariyo Sanyaolu, 105kg, Nominated Total 727.5kg

Cael McDaniel, 120kg, Nominated Total 717.5kg

Kellen Meyers, +120kg, Nominated Total 720kg

Classic Women


Kelsey Scannevin, 57kg, Nominated Total 365kg

Daisy Arreola Garcia, 63kg, Nominated Total 445.5kg

Joy Rindfleisch, 63kg, Nominated Total 433.5kg

Carolyn Connor, 69kg, Nominated Total 470.5kg

Jessica Kinney, 76kg, Nominated Total 525.5kg

Antara Jackson, 84kg, Nominated Total 480kg

Classic Women


Trinity Klinger, 43kg, Nominated Total 182.5kg

Jessica Haggerty, 52kg, Nominated Total 327.5kg

Eleni Guerrera, 57kg, Nominated Total 375kg

Eva Polini, 63kg, Nominated Total 340kg

Amelia Gercken, 76kg, Nominated Total 332.5kg

Mikayla Vonangen, 84kg, Nominated Total 365kg

Olshanksky Rachel 84kg, Nominated Total 350kg

Chealsea Enamor, +84kg, Nominated Total 540kg

Luella Bowden, +84kg, Nominated Total 530kg

Classic Men


Bodie LaCoe, 59kg, Nominated Total 562.5kg

Kyle Nowak, 66kg, Nominated Total 662.5kg

Connor Heim, 83kg, Nominated Total 743kg

Alex Sydor, 83kg, Nominated Total 722.5kg 

Shane Nutt, 93kg, Nominated Total 818kg

Payton Johnson, 93kg, Nominated Total 812kg

Anthony McNaughton, 105kg, Nominated Total 875kg

Paul Romar Harayo, 120kg, Nominated Total 845kg

Classic Men 


Gavin Maag, 53kg, Nominated Total 367.5kg

Derrick Le, 53kg, Nominated Total 362.5kg

Daniel Harris, 66kg, Nominated Total 572.5kg

Jack Reynolds, 74kg, Nominated Total 612.5kg

Nicholas Gaines, 74kg, Nominated Total 611.5kg

Joseph Tyler, 83kg, Nominated Total 663.5kg

James Kellerman, 105kg, Nominated Total 672.5kg

Trevor Klein, 120kg, Nominated Total 692.5kg

Written by Julia Williams

Research by Mike Gold

Julia Williams is a powerlifting athlete, coach, referee, and producer on the media team at Powerlifting America.

Follow Julia on Instagram.

Mike Gold is a powerlifting athlete, coach, podcast host and contributor on the media team at Powerlifting America.

Follow Mike on Instagram.