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Three Forks Powerlifting Club sets 16 state records

Before the recent United States Powerlifting 2024 Montana High School State Championships in East Helena, Three Forks Coach Stan Provenza said while he knew his team would do well, he just wanted them to compete and feel good about it.

It turns out there were plenty of reasons for the team to feel good about their performance. Competing for the first time as a club, Three Forks left East Helena with 16 state records.

Micah Gather, Josh Delger, Maddie Griffiths, and Eva Parker each set four state records in their age/weight divisions. The four set state records in the bench, squat, deadlift, and combined total of the three events. Dominic Silcox and Noah Murphy also shined for Three Forks at the event on March 9.

In his division, Gather set the records with a bench of 160 pounds, squat of 205, and deadlift of 315. In her division, Griffiths set the state records with a bench of 133 pounds, squat of 232, and deadlift of 276. Delger had phenomenal numbers at state with a bench of 285, squat of 475, and deadlift of 540. Parker broke the records in her division with a bench of 137 pounds, squat of 235, and deadlift of 265.

The Three Forks Powerlifting Club's origins date back to when Provenza attended a seminar at the Montana Coaches Convention. Speakers from Helena talked about their powerlifting team and how more kids have gotten involved over the years.

"The years went by, and it had become a positive in their lives, and it gave the kids who lift hard in strength and conditioning a venue in front of the whole state to show what they've accomplished," Provenza said.

Wanting to bring a club to Three Forks, Provenza was hoping students would be interested but was unsure what number they would get, especially because it would be something new for the school.

"Over the past couple of years, we have really seen an influx in the number of kids in strength and conditioning. Casey (McWethy) has done a great job. I thought some students would be interested, but I didn't know for sure if they would be willing to go to the state meet, put a singlet on, and get up literally in front of 500 or so people and lift in front of them," he said.

Parker also discussed the added emphasis in the school's strength and conditioning program and said McWethy really harped on the culture of lifting throughout the year.

"We would have to be out there at 7 in the morning, lifting, running, and pushing ourselves," she said.

After hearing that Provenza would be starting a club, Parker said she was glad to have the opportunity to get out of her comfort zone.

"I think it was good that Mr. Provenza gave us the opportunity to go out and try something we were interested in. We've been working super hard in the weight room, but there was really no recognition beyond that," she said.

On the day of the competition, Parker was unsure of what to expect. Before her first squat, she felt pale, could not catch a full breath, and felt like she was going to pass out.

"It was scary. But once you realize everybody there is just as into it as you and nobody is judging you, it feels super good. After you go up there and do it, you get that adrenaline, and you feel great. It's just a great feeling overall to be able to feel successful about something you are passionate about," Parker said.

After setting four state records, Parker said it was shocking but definitely made her feel more confident.

"It can push you further in life to go and try new stuff. It's not easy to go out there in front of a bunch of new people," said Parker. "The crowd was really positive. There were people there I didn't even know that were saying my name and hyping me up and would come up to me after and say good job. The audience there becomes fans, and they are just into it as any other sport. It's like a community."

With the club competing for the first time, Provenza said he wanted to stress the personal record rather than the state record to them. He told the team that it's not a big deal if they don't go out and get a record.

"I was going to support the kids no matter how they did but I knew in my heart of hearts they would be really good. As long as they could adapt mentally, they would do just fine," he said. "Three Forks had never had an entry in this meet before. So, it was really cool to see these six kids get onto the stage and take that first step, and their success was just incredible. I knew we would do well, but my personal goal was to just get through this meet. I didn't think there would be 16 state records."

After each Three Forks student competed, Provenza said they made sure to have a line of coaches and community members to encourage them.

"It makes you feel more accomplished having your coaches there to hype you up and feel the validation of what you just did,' Parker said.

Looking towards the future, Provenza plans to continue a positive vibe for the club.

"If someone gets a lift, we will congratulate them, but if they don't get a lift, we're going to pick them right up," he said.

Parker added that the club still allows students to have a lot of free time, and it only makes them better.

"There are no negatives, and lifting can help you in other sports," she said.