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Wells breaks state powerlifting record

Terry Wells is shown with the certificate he received announcing that he is a Wisconsin powerlifting state record holder. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

Terry Wells has been weightlifting for 30 years, but it wasn't until 2016 that he decided to try competitive lifting.

Wells is making up for lost time. In his fourth competition, Wells set a Wisconsin state record by deadlifting 650 pounds.

Wells, 47, is a 1988 graduate of New Richmond High School. He started lifting while he was in high school, saying it helped him to add 100 pounds to his frame in the first 10 years that he lifted. He has been a faithful lifter ever since.

Wells broke the record at the Wolf Open, a meet held Aug. 26 at Winneconne. The lift was certified through USA Powerlifting, the leading drug-free lifting association in the country.

So who held the record before Wells broke it? That would be New Richmond resident Shawn Cain, who set the record in 2007. Cain is a former national champion. Wells said breaking one of Cain's many records makes this even more special.

"He's a legend in the sport," Wells said. "I feel pretty lucky to beat one of his records."

Wells wanted to be able to focus without distraction in his first meet, so he decided to compete in a meet in Kansas in 2016 as his first meet. He concentrated solely on the deadlift and won the entire competition. He went to nationals two months later in Pennsylvania and won his weight class.

In May, Wells competed in a meet at Maplewood. He nearly had the record at that meet, but lost his grip on the bar at the top of the lift.

Wells said he was unsure if he'd shoot for the state title at the start of the meet at Winneconne. He successfully pulled 600 pounds in his opening lift and 623 pounds in his second lift. It was when he got to the judges' table for his final lift that Wells decided to shoot for the record.

"Halfway up, I thought I got it," Wells said, saying the lift went perfectly and the record was his.

Wells said he's always been good at the deadlift. Now that he's got the state record, he's looking at what direction to take his competitive listing. He said he'd like to add to his state record, but he's also looking at increasing his total lifts.

Wells competed at 235 pounds, meaning he lifted 2.77 times his body weight. Wells said competing in a USA Powerlifting meet was important to him.

"I've trained drug free my whole life and that's why I picked the USAPL," he said.

Wells has had to overcome injuries to see this level of success. He suffered a herniated disc in his back in 2008, which caused him to give up the deadlift and squat for several years. He said it was when he began doing the deadlift again in 2015 that his back began to feel better.

Wells has also suffered a torn bicep tendon in each arm, but neither injury happened while he was lifting. Cain had suffered the same injury and recommended a surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester to do the surgery.

To prevent further bicep injuries, Wells switched away from the alternate arm method. He now uses a hook grip, where the thumbs are tucked inside the palm of the hand, with both arms facing outward at the start of the lift.

Wells said he lifts six days a week. He does a short course of lifting on each of those days, concentrating on one or two body parts per day.

Wells competed in four meets in 11 months. He said after that rigorous schedule he's going to take some time away from competing. He said he will likely compete in his next meet some time in the summer of 2018.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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