Smallest but strongest again...
BFS means strength and respect to this town’s powerlifting young women
By Mikki Maddox
Published: Summer 2004
Nestled away between forest, farms, cranberry marshes and a national wildlife refuge is Necedah, Wisconsin. This village of fewer than 900 people is once again the proud home of state and national champion powerlifters from Necedah High School.
How were this community and its school with a 9-12th grade student enrollment of 214 able to produce the number and quality of lifters that keeps them among the elite in the state and nation? Credit the dedicated work of Erich Mach and his belief in the Bigger Faster Stronger program and the other coaches in the athletic department who have integrated the BFS program into their coaching philosophies.
With such a small enrollment, you would expect the weightroom and weight program to be small. Yes, the weightroom is small; however, the weight program with its roots deeply embedded in the Bigger Faster Stronger philosophy has proved that you don’t need a 5,000-square-foot weightroom to achieve success.
All you need are sound training principles and hard work to achieve championship results. According to Kyle Cronan, Necedah’s athletic director, “When Erich Mach helped bring the BFS clinic to Necedah a year ago, many coaches were hesitant. But now with the evidence of success every day in the weightroom, the coaching staff and the athletes have realized that setting goals on the athletic field is important, but achieving those goals takes determination and direction in the weightroom.”
This philosophy has transcended the small confines of the weightroom and revitalized many of Necedah’s athletic programs, particularly the football team. “Incorporating BFS into our football program at Necedah has made a tremendous impact in how our athletes train and prepare for the season, and it has helped our football players find direction when setting their team goals,” adds Cronan.
Rising to the Challenge
At this school it’s not just the guys taking BFS into the weightroom and onto the field—the girls are now coming into prominence. Kris Saylor, head volleyball and softball coach says, “Our girls’ athletic programs are experiencing a rapid ascent. You definitely can’t make that climb unless you have good athletes—which we have—but BFS is what is going to help get us over the top.” As proof, the most important changes can be seen in the rapid rise of the powerlifting team to statewide prominence.
The powerlifting program was created at Necedah in 1998. From the humble beginnings of five lifters and one advancing to state competition, they competed this year with a team of 41—an amazing 20 percent of the total high school enrollment. “I really didn’t know what to expect at the first competition. As the coach, I just used the knowledge I had gained from BFS clinician Jim Brown and hoped for the best,” said Mach. “The club qualified one lifter for the state meet that first year. However, that was only the seed. The best was yet to come.” And come it did.
As the years have gone by, the club’s numbers have grown not only with greater numbers of boys but also girls becoming attracted to the sport. Out of the 41 lifters for the 2003-04 season, 21 were girls. Returning lifters included two national champions, Tim Cross and Audrey Karbowski, as well as large numbers of former top-place finishers in both girls’ and boys’ events. According to Mach, he could see the possibilities for the season that was ahead. “I knew we had been blessed with talent. I also knew that if we stayed with the fundamentals learned from BFS and Jim Brown, we’d be very hard to stop.”
Pride at the Podium
The club breezed through the regional meets, placing first in all but one. When the 2004 state meet finally arrived on March 12, anticipation was high as lifting began. More than 300 lifters were competing at this year’s WHSPA State Meet, one of the largest in history.
On the first day Necedah crowned its first champion in 97-pound sophomore Stevie Cross, who totaled 530 pounds on her three lifts. The next was senior Amy Seebruck, who became two-time champion in the 105-pound bodyweight class. Audrey Karbowksi, at 114, finished the three-weight-class sweep by cranking out a 315 deadlift on the way to claiming her second individual state championship. Other girls making it to the podium were Andi Johnson, 123; Laura Bergh, 132; Katie Van Dusen, 142; and Sarah Manning, 165.
By the end of the competition for day one, the Necedah girls had scored an amazing 77 points and had locked up a second consecutive state title. “If you were to look at any of the girls we have, you’d be amazed if I were to tell you they’re powerlifters,” comments Mach.
There was no rest in sight as the club headed next to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, for the National High School meet. Audrey Karbowski won her second consecutive title, while Stevie Cross and Amy Seebruck each placed third in their divisions. With this excellent showing, the Necedah girls-and-boys combined team was able to pull off a fourth-place finish.
The future of girls’ powerlifting and athletics in general look great at Necedah. Under the BFS philosophy, coaches and athletes are working hard to improve mentally and physically. The numbers in powerlifting and sports continue to increase as students become aware of the positive value of this program. Although the bar has been set high, more and more athletes are meeting, exceeding, and loving the challenge that BFS and powerlifting provide them.