New Richmond lifters earn big accolades at national championships
After months of preparation for the national tournament, the New Richmond Tiger powerlifting team walked away with one national champion, two second-place finishes and a wealth of memories that will last a lifetime.
The team drove more than 14 hours to compete in Aurora, Colo., and the hardware the athletes brought home made the trip well worth it.
Sophomore and first-year lifter Taylor Klemmensen took first place in the 114-pound weight class with a 255-pound squat, 120-pound bench press and 290-pound deadlift, which launched the junior varsity team upward in the standings.
The Tigers' domination continued with sophomores Sabrina Stacken and Sabrina Keyes placing second in the 181- and 198-pound classes, respectively. Austen Dimick, the only male lifter for the Tigers, finished third in the 220-pound weight class, and sophomores Vickie Holbrook and Alyssa Carver earned fourth- and fifth-place medals to give the girls' junior varsity team a second-place finish overall.
Coach Brandon Paletta, who has watched the team grow from five lifters to 38 in just four years, said he couldn't be more proud of the athletes who competed at nationals.
"When we started this season, we had very raw talent walk into the program," Paletta said. "Because of their dedication and work ethic, these athletes are now considered some of the best in the nation, which is a true testimony of their commitment to what it means to be a Tiger powerlifter."
In 2011, the team had only two female lifters. That number has grown to 26, and for the second year in a row, the girls' team has enjoyed considerable success. Eleven of the 12 national competitors were females, and most of them will be returning for another year of lifting.
"We're really excited about the future of this young female team with the success we've had so far," Paletta said. "Its growth has a lot to do with past lifters representing it well. These young women find confidence they've never had before, and that's what it's all about."
Four upperclassmen also competed for the Tigers' varsity team. Junior Bethany Haag finished eighth in the 148-pound class, and juniors Maddy Reimenschneider and Tina Montpetit respectively earned eighth- and ninth-place finishes in the 132-pound class. Reimenschneider had the highest bench in her weight class, pushing 155 pounds compared to her 125-pound body weight. Senior Jenna Wallace finished with a fourth-place finish in the 198-pound class to end her time as a powerlifter.
Because many of the program's alumni remain involved with the team, Paletta wanted to utilize their experience to prepare this year's lifters for nationals. After collecting letters of encouragement from previous lifters, Paletta distributed them to the national competitors shortly before they stepped onto the platform.
"It was really humbling to see how emotional the kids got when they read the letters," Paletta said. "They were honored to have alumni they've never met wish them luck and give them advice. It shows how close we are as a powerlifting family."
While the program's immense growth has fueled its success, Paletta said the team has also received incredible support from the community as a whole. Donations from local businesses have helped fund higher quality squat suits, bench shirts, deadlift slippers, wrist wraps, knee wraps and belts.
"We're so humbled by and appreciative of the support we've had," Paletta said. "Our core values are respect, family and community, and you need all three to be an unbelievable program. We wouldn't have the success that we've had thus far without the community behind us."
The program that casually began with five male lifters has evolved into a large-scale, supportive community for athletes of any gender and experience level.
"I can't help but be excited for what we're starting here," Paletta said. "If we keep having kids come in and commit to the program, we're going to see a lot of success in the coming years."