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North Platte lifters see benefits from competition, working in the gym

Matthew Musselman, spotted by Austin Junker, and other North Platte lifters, squats 475 lbs. (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)
Matthew Musselman, spotted by Austin Junker, and other North Platte lifters, squats 475 lbs. (Credit: Patrick Johnstone/KNOP-TV)(KNOP)
Published: Feb. 16, 2020 at 10:58 PM CST
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North Platte high school sent ten students to the State powerlifting meet at Creighton Prep on Feb. 1, four of those athletes finished with a medal; seniors Dalton Lunkwitz and Austin Junker, and freshmen Matthew Musselman and Nicholas Spradlin.

"For me, since it was my first time doing it, I was kind of nervous. But after I got used to my first couple lifts, I started having fun. Adrenaline, all the other lifters telling you, ‘come on, you got this, you can get this,’ it's amazing," Junker said.

Junker placed third in the 275 weight class, while Spradlin finished fifth in the same class. Lunkwitz placed fifth in the heavyweight class, and Musselman placed fourth in 242.

"It was actually really crazy. Once you got to the deadlift, the crowds were crazy," Musselman said about the crowds at Creighton Prep.

All four guys got involved with lifting weights for different reasons. For Lunkwitz, he got started around middle school, and was influenced by his mother.

“When I was in about the seventh grade, I found a passion for it, that was when I first got into the gym. When I first got into the gym I felt really weak. I kept working at it, it was a good stress relief, school was starting to get harder at that time. It's just kind of followed me since then. Weight-lifting has always been in my family, because my mom used to do the strong woman competition at railfest, so every time I'd go watch that, I was just amazed at what they could do. So I was like ‘wow I want to be like that,’" Lunkwitz said.

"A lot of my friends are here to do it with me. It's fun, personally I really enjoy it, so I figured it'd be a fun opportunity to come out," Musselman said on why he got involved.

"I first started just doing it for fun, but then I found out they had competitions for it, and I got really excited about that. I just started working on my form more because it was kind of lacking in the beginning. I’m still kind of working on it, but it's been a great experience so far," Spradlin said.

Despite competing with each other and opponents, the lifters always support each other, which is an aspect of lifting they all enjoy.

"Everybody supports you no matter what. Even if you fail, they're going to tell you to keep on going. They're going to try to get you to the next level, to the level they know you can be at. So, no matter what, just keep on trying, and they're going to keep on motivating you to get stronger and better," Junker said.

The lifters aim to get better every time they enter the gym.

"I feel a lot of pressure to beat what I did last time. But, when I see people doing more weight than me, I'm just excited for them, instead of thinking, ‘man they're beating me,’" Spradlin said.

"It's you versus the weight. When you’re up there on that stage, it's loud, there are weights slamming, you pick up the bar, you step back, they give you a command, you go. When you feel that rush of them saying ‘up’ and you get you rack it, that rush is insane," Lunkwitz said.

The time spent in the weight room also helps the lifters in their other sports.

Junker throws discus and shot put for the Bulldog track team, and saw an improvement on his shot put throws by several feet because of lifting. Lunkwitz plays offensive line on the Bulldog football team, and his work in the weight room improved his work in the trenches on the football field.

"Being on the offensive line, your main goal is just to exert your force and speed against the person across from you. It's just a one-on-one competition. Mostly, if you're stronger and faster than that guy coming off, you're going to win almost every time. That's why I recommend it to every athlete, because in every sport you need to be faster, stronger, have more stamina, weight-lifting will build all three of those attributes," Lunkwitz said.

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