Lifting in the Right Direction

GHS Hosted First Powerlifting Meet
Sophomore Caitlyn Cheleen begins her lift. Cheleen took second in her weight class.
Sophomore Caitlyn Cheleen begins her lift. Cheleen took second in her weight class.
Maggie Meis

Powerlifting within GHS has grown a great deal over the last couple years, with over 70 athletes joining at the beginning of this year’s season. Because of this, Gretna hosted its first ever powerlifting meet on Saturday, Feb. 3, drawing in JV lifters from high schools around Omaha.

“Prior to this year, we actually did not have the equipment, so we were not capable of hosting one before this year,” Coach Alise Pape said. “But this year, the district invested in us and bought us the materials we needed to be able to do that, which was really exciting.”

Despite organizing a meet for the first time, coaches Alise Pape, Brenden Raybourn and Jacob Meyer’s efforts and planning for the historic meet allowed the event to move smoothly and finish several hours ahead of schedule. There were a large number of student and volunteer lifters who helped set up for the event on Friday night and throughout the day on Saturday.

“They did great on and off the platform,” Pape said. “And logistically, it could not have run better as a first meet. I was really nervous to host and meet direct, and I was ready for there to be a lot of hiccups, and I could not have asked for it to go smoother than it did on Saturday.”

There was a large number of adult lifters from the community who volunteered to help operate the equipment, monitor the lifters and sell tickets. There were zero complaints and the meet was highly successful. This was especially fortunate since all proceeds were donated to the Feeken family.

“I didn’t receive a phone call with any sort of complaint,” activities director Matthew Curtis said. “Everybody who was here had a positive experience. It was so good that people want to come back.”

For the powerlifting meet to happen, the coaches had to thoroughly organize and plan every detail. They also had to make sure they had all of the equipment necessary to run the event and protect the school, including the gym floors, from heavy equipment.

“There’s a lot of prep, there’s a lot of before behind-the-scenes activity that takes place before the event,” Curtis said. “You have concession stands running, and you’ve got workers who are able to take tickets and do things like that. So it’s quite an effort and our group did a really, really good job with it.”

Gretna had several lifters place in their weight classes, including sophomore Caitlyn Cheleen. She took second place in her weight category,

“I felt really good about my lifts,” Cheleen said. “I PR’d in all three, which was really exciting, and even though I failed one of my lifts, I came back, and I lifted the weight.”

The schools and individual lifters said they had a positive experience and want to come back if Gretna hosts again next year. It was widely described as a success and every lifter had a great time.

“I just like the environment and the energy,” Cheleen said. “Even people from other schools are cheering you on and everybody from your team is just yelling at the top of their lungs, just screaming at you. It is just so much fun.”

State powerlifting takes place later this month on Sunday, Feb. 25, at Omaha Central High School.

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