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.

Powerlifting America Brings Record-Breaking Team to the North American Championships

Powerlifting America is raising the standard at the 2023 North American Regional Powerlifting Championships starting August 8th. This year’s team boasts 104 lifters across all age divisions, raw and equipped, including 17 former World Champions. This will be the biggest North American Championships ever, with 286 athletes from 14 countries.

The standard of competition has been rising every year at the NAPF. Since the North American Championships are an international competition sanctioned under the IPF, both North American Records and World Records will be fair game. With such a stacked National Team, it will be exciting to see how many World Records are broken.

All eyes will be on the return of Ray Williams in the +120kg class, one of the greatest superstars the sport has ever seen. Training appears to be going well for Ray, judging by the little footage posted on his social media. He might be poised to put on a show in the Cayman Islands, push his squat World Record, and make a case for wild card consideration for Sheffield 24. He will have legendary game day coach Sioux-z Hartwig Gary by his side.

Jonathan Garcia is another US athlete who might be attempting a squat World Record. Jonathan is the 2022 66kg Classic Open World’s silver medalist. He will be looking to make a statement in the 66kg class, which was much more competitive at the World Championships this year. 

One of the most anticipated clashes of the competition will be a rematch from the 2023 Powerlifting America Classic Open Nationals between reigning 120kg National Champion Tristan Nazelrod and the legendary Mike Tuchscherer. Both will also have to deal with strong competition from Canada (Bryce Krawczyk) and Belize (Kaylon Cadle-Godoy), with all four lifters nominated within 20kg of each other.

In the Women’s Classic Open division, perhaps the most exciting matchup is in the 76kg class between American star Claire Zai, who is moving up from the 69kg class, and the defending North American Champions Sami DePass (2022 76kg NAPF Champion) from Jamaica, and Christine Castro (2022 69kg NAPF Champion) from Canada. Claire was recently on Monday Night Live, where she gave a few hints at where her lifts might be just a week out from the competition.

We expect to see dominant performances from 63kg Julia Williams and +84kg Sub-Junior phenom Luella Bowden. Luella is lifting in the Open division but will turn around and compete at the Sub-Junior World Championships only two weeks later in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Luella has the potential to break several World Records depending on whether she decides to go all out or not.

These North American Championships will also see the international platform return of the legendary Sioux-z Hartwig-Gary. She will most likely add even more accolades to her already unparalleled resume, but this time in the 57kg M2 class.

Reigning World Champion Layne Norton (93kg M1) will be in a three-way battle with fellow American Michael Garozzo and Mexico’s Gabriel Garcia, both of whom pushed Layne to the wire in head-to-head clashes in the past 12 months. Sparks will definitely fly with all three of these world class athletes on the same platform.

For solo performances amongst the Masters, look out for Melissa Copeland (+84kg M1) and Alexa Sperske (69kg M1) who are both nominated in first place by a considerable margin, giving them the freedom to have huge performances. M4 John LaFlamme will be making his international debut for Powerlifting America in the 83kg class after successfully pulling a record shattering 230.5kg (508lbs) deadlift at Powerlifting America Nationals in Scottsdale. Dora Justice (57kg M3), Carlos Lewis (74kg M3) and Dale Garlitz (74kg M4) will also be looking to break World Records.

The Powerlifting America team also includes 2022 Masters World Champions Lily Jackson (M2 +84kg), Vicki Brackett (M3 +84kg), Sam Felts (M4 59kg), Gale Williams (M4 69kg) from the classic division, and Steve Mann (M1 120+kg) from the equipped division.

Powerlifting America will have a media team on the ground. Subscribe on YouTube and follow on Instagram @powerlifting_america so you don’t miss anything.

Click here for the full NAPF competition schedule

Team Stats: 

104 Competitors
10 World Record Holders
14 World Records
17 Former World Champions
27 Podium Finishers at World Championships

Classic Men

Dalton LaCoe, 59kg, Nominated Total 587.5kg
Jonathan Garcia, 66kg, Nominated Total 682.5kg
Mario Leos, 66kg, Nominated Total 540kg
Nicholas Farison, 74kg, Nominated Total 665kg
Tristan Nazelrod, 120kg, Nominated Total 907.5kg
Mike Tuscherer, 120 kg, Nominated Total 887.5kg
Ray Williams, +120, Nominated Total 1000kg
Jonathan Avril, +120kg, Nominated Total 907.5kg

Classic Men

Tylor Reed Fuenger, 59kg, Nominated Total 467.5kg
James Castillo, 59 kg, Nominated Total 455kg
Nabeel Rifai, 74 kg, Nominated Total 552.5kg
Keegan Bucci, 83kg, Nominated Total 602.5kg
Broc Nye, 93kg, Nominated Total 595kg
David Syrotchen, 93kg, Nominated Total 577.5kg
Cole Schirg, 105kg, Nominated Total 635kg
Brayden Coy, 105kg, Nominated Total 615kg

Classic Men

Nolan Coglianese, 74kg, Nominated Total 515kg
Dafydd Herico, 83kg, Nominated Total 645kg
Evan Gonsorcik, 83kg, Nominated Total 605kg
Philip Truong, 93kg, Nominated Total 732.5kg
Cameron “Tank” Lunsford, 93kg, Nominated Total 712.5kg
Nicholas Schzure, 105kg, Nominated Total 707.5kg
Trey Forrest, +120kg, Nominated Total 730kg

Classic Men
Masters I

Huaiyu Tan, 66kg, Nominated Total 492.5kg
Jonathan “Mike” Losa, 83kg, Nominated Total 695.5kg
Todd Straub, 83kg, Nominated Total 677.5kg
Layne Norton, 93kg, Nominated Total 757.5kg
Michael Garrozzo, 93kg, Nominated Total 755kg
Kenneth Cameron, 120kg, Nominated Total 760kg
Michael Jean, Sr., +120kg, Nominated Total 727.5kg

Classic Men
Masters II

Brian Mott, 74kg, Nominated Total 340kg
Ed Ruland, 93kg, Nominated Total 642.5kg
Richard Acosta, 120kg, Nominated Total 522.5kg
Keith Carlascio, 120kg, Nominated Total 502.5kg

Classic Men
Masters III

George Kern, 66kg, Nominated Total 377.5kg
Carlos Lewis, 74kg, Nominated Total 545.5kg

Classic Men
Masters IV

Sam Felts, 59kg, Nominated Total 332.5kg
Dale Garlitz, 74kg, Nominated Total 447.5kg
John LaFlamme, 83kg, Nominated Total 526.5kg
Michael Dollard, 105kg, Nominated Total 375kg
Mack Hodges, 120kg, Nominated Total 455kg

Classic Women

Kaye Johnson, 57kg, Nominated Total 390kg
Julia Williams, 63kg, Nominated Total 455kg
Claire Zai, 76kg, Nominated Total 507.5kg
Michelle Robbins, 84kg, Nominated Total 522.5kg
Aliza Tessler, 84kg, Nominated Total 485kg
Luella Bowden, +84kg, Nominated Total 530kg
Marisa Ruland, +84kg, Nominated Total 490kg

Classic Women

Emma Klime, 52kg, Nominated Total 247.5kg
Kenedee Rowen, 63kg, Nominated Total 347.5kg
Ava Lacasse, 69kg, Nominated Total 302.5kg
Sarah Rogers, 76kg, Nominated Total 302.5kg
Shanti Khalsa, 84kg, Nominated Total 350kg
Kaylee Mann, +84kg, Nominated Total 375kg

Classic Women

Lily Falcone, 47kg, Nominated Total 270kg
Ayana Rivera, 47kg, Nominated Total 242.5kg
Blair Dunn, 57kg, Nominated Total 337.5kg
August Reeves, 69kg, Nominated Total 295kg
Jessica Phares, 76kg, Nominated Total 327.5kg
Sara Roden, 76kg, Nominated Total 322.5kg

Classic Women
Masters 1

Kelly Tonini, 57kg, Nominated Total 322.5kg
Nimisha Mitha, 63kg, Nominated Total 230kg
Alexa Sperske, 69kg, Nominated Total 420kg
Dana Manning, 69kg, Nominated Total 297.5kg
Clair Crawford, 76kg, Nominated Total 297.5kg
Rachael Diehl, 84kg, Nominated Total 345kg
Melissa Copeland, +84kg, Nominated Total 560kg
Rebecca Rutkoski, +84kg, Nominated Total 397.5kg

Classic Women
Masters 2

Melissa Forbis, 52kg, Nominated Total 272.5kg
Sioux-z Hartwig-Gary, 57kg, Nominated Total 305kg
Michelle Carlascio, 63kg, Nominated Total 237.5kg
Claudia Nagata, 69kg, Nominated Total 75kg
Joah Iannotta, 76kg, Nominated Total 444.5kg
Cindy Line, 76kg, Nominated Total 387.5kg
Lilyan Jackson, +84kg, Nominated Total 482.5kg

Classic Women
Masters 3

Dora Justice, 57kg, Nominated Total 267.5kg
Lorraine Efron, 57kg, Nominated Total 230kg
Vicki Brackett, +84kg, Nominated Total 363kg

Classic Women
Masters 4

Gale Williams, 69kg, Nominated Total 288.5kg

Equipped Men

Nelson Martinez, 105kg, Nominated Total 880kg
Pete Nees, 105kg, Nominated Total 802.5kg
Mark Leebrick, 120, Nominated Total 802.5kg
Eddie Mends, 120kg, Nominated Total 617.5kg

Equipped Men

Bryce Toups, 66kg, Nominated Total 465kg
Beau Perrilloux, 74kg, Nominated Total 542.5kg

Equipped Men

Kiel Oalmann, 105kg, Nominated Total 560kg

Equipped Men
Masters 1

Steve Mann, +120kg, Nominated Total 992.5kg

Equipped Men
Masters 3

Michael Rodriguez, 74kg, Nominated Total 540kg
Thomas Cencich, 93kg, Nominated Total 587.5kg

Equipped Women

Juanita Najera, 52kg, Nominated Total 332.5kg
Anna Gonzalez, 52kg, Nominated Total 332.5kg
Casey Hill, 57kg, Nominated Total 412.5kg
Naomi Lukas, 63kg, Nominated Total 310kg
Jenna Austin, 84kg, Nominated Total 385kg

Equipped Women

Caroline Lagarde, 52kg, Nominated Total 325kg
Camille Crutcher, 52kg, Nominated Total 302.5kg
Brooklyn Mazzuca, 57kg, Nominated Total 350kg
Lila Cooper, 57kg, Nominated Total 350kg
Isabel Olivarez, 63kg, Nominated Total 380kg
Celeste Godinez, 69kg, Nominated Total 367.5kg
Malaya Mitchell, 76kg, Nominated Total 372.5kg
Cali Cefalu, 76kg, Nominated Total 365kg
Taylor Durham, 84kg, Nominated Total 360kg

Equipped Women
Masters 2

Claudia Nagata, 69kg, Nominated Total 75kg
Michal Harris, 84kg, Nominated Total 252.5kg

Written by Amy Hutchinson and Julia Williams.
Research by Amy Hutchinson.

Amy Hutchinson is a powerlifting athlete, referee, and contributor to the media team at Powerlifting America. Follow Amy on Instagram.

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

High School National Champion Eleni Guerrera Shares Her Story

Rising star Eleni Guerrera recently joined the Powerlifting America podcast as she preps for the Sub-Junior World Championships in Romania on August 28, where it looks like she’ll be in a heated three-way battle for the gold medal. Eleni is the reigning 57kg High School National Champion and Best Lifter. She totaled 375kg, the best total of all 57kg Juniors and Sub-Juniors. She scored 90.87 IPF GL points, the second highest among all Sub-Juniors in Powerlifting America this year.

Eleni talks about her performance at High School Nationals, her thoughts on the Classic Open World Championships in Malta (which she watched carefully), her goals for the upcoming Sub-Junior World Championships in Romania, and how she overcame numerous setbacks in her life and lifting career to become a world-class powerlifter in the span of just a few years.

Since her first meet in 2022 at the age of 16, Eleni has managed to add 50kg (110lbs) to her total on the way to achieving one of the highest DOTS scores of any Junior or Sub-Junior lifter in Powerlifting America this year. She did this despite severely injuring her back six weeks prior to High School Nationals. Eleni explains that her success was due to her ability to reframe her injury as a challenge rather than a setback, demonstrating the athletes’ mental strength at the sport’s pinnacle. Her lifts in training leading up to Sub-Junior Worlds in Romania have been on another level from her impressive showings in competition. Eleni credited this rapid improvement to her coach, Vin Mangione, whom she hired after Nationals. She then goes on to discuss the Classic Open World Championships in Malta this year, giving some expert analysis of everything from attempt selection and judging to where the sport could be headed in the future. She also mentioned who she was most excited to watch, including Natalie Richards, Jessica Espinal, Meg Scanlon, and many more.

Eleni speaks about her softball and tennis background and how she found a passion for lifting after her softball team split apart. She also touched on her ambitions to work in the medical field and how it was sometimes a challenge to balance her athletic and academic pursuits. Eleni was greatly affected by the pandemic in 2020, a fate common to her peers, but she found a renewed sense of purpose in lifting. She explains that after getting into running as a means to relieve stress, she realized she had developed an unhealthy body image and turned to lifting to improve her physical and mental health. Her inspiring account of these challenges demonstrates why powerlifting is meaningful to so many athletes beyond just the love of the sport.

Eleni has already left her mark on powerlifting during her short but eventful high school career and will only continue to push boundaries in the 57kg class. Hear her story in her own words here:

High School Nationals will be in New Orleans in 2024, registration is open.

Support Eleni by following her on Instagram @elenilifts57.

To see this and other episodes of the Powerlifting America Podcast subscribe on YouTube and Spotify and follow us on Instagram @powerlifting_america.

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