The gym at Traverse City West became perhaps the biggest and most watched workout room in the state on Saturday.
TC West hosted the 2013 powerlifting state championships, bringing more than 600 competitors from across the state to northern Michigan for the annual event.
Think about every stereotype you can imagine for weightlifting — and then crush it. While there were a handful of “gym rats” with massive biceps and freakish physiques, they were hardly the norm. With the event breaking athletes into weight classes and tallying their best squat, bench press and dead lift, there was a place for the biggest high schooler to the smallest.
Saturday’s competition was truly for every shape, size and gender. Yes, gender. Think weightlifting is only for the boys? Think again.
Emily Estep is the perfect example. At first glance, you wouldn’t tab the 4-foot-10 Onaway senior as a powerlifter. But that’s what she is. And after Saturday, you can more specifically call her a state champion powerlifter.
Estep won the 132-pound weight class with a squat of 230 pounds, a bench press of 130 pounds and a dead lift of 275 pounds.
“I’ve actually been really working for that,” Estep said. “This was my third year doing it. As a sophomore I was third and as a junior I took sixth place. So I was really hoping this would be the year.”
In past years, Estep said the girls would lift in the state finals on Friday, while the boys went on Saturday. This year, they were all in the same room, which made for a packed house at TC West.
“It was crazy to see everyone in the state who qualified,” Estep said. “We get to come together and share this. It was so different from anything else, because it’s just you. You get to show up and show off what you’ve worked for.”