PDT Sports Writer
MCDERMOTT — One of Scioto County’s earliest powerlifting programs experienced a renaissance this year thanks to someone who crossed over from another sport.
This season the Northwest powerlifting team finished second in the 2013 Ohio State Powerlifting Meet at Kenton High School for Divisions I-III. A major reason for the 30-member Mohawk team’s success was the effort and leadership of Wyatt Bazler, who outside of the weight room appears to be a reserved individual.
That reservation fades away when he hits the racks. The senior won the 175-pound weight class — the second person in school history — by finishing with a combined weight of 1,280 pounds in the bench press, deadlift and squat. It’s a growth exhibited from someone who went into powerlifting after leaving the basketball team his freshman year.
“I like lifting and just seeing how much I can do each week and each month,” Bazler said in an interview earlier this week with the Daily Times.
Bill Crabtree, who has been the coach of the team up through this year, could not find enough words to describe Bazler’s impact on the program.
“He started off like any other freshman, he was a scrawny little kid,” Crabtree said. “Over the last four years, his attendance has been better than anyone else’s in the weight room and has been probably one of my most dedicated lifters that I’ve ever had. He said his goal was that he was going to win state this year because he felt a little bit slighted last year.”
Once Bazler proved his success, he said friends and classmates followed suit. He said the combination of bulking up and the competition aspect of the sport drives him each time he steps up to perform.
“It’s a personal, rewarding thing,” Bazler said. “It makes you feel good about yourself.”
As a freshman, Bazler never dreamed he would have come so far. A year ago, Bazler finished second in the 155-pound division. He believes that moment is what propelled him to acknowledge that a first place finish his senior year was in reach.
One way to gauge his growth in the sport was on the bench as he went from 165 pounds his freshman year to 310 through the course of this past campaign. He benched 290 pounds in the state meet.
“It was concentration and placement of the bar with my coaches’ help from each year,” Bazler said, “Helping me out with form on each lift. But bench seen the most improvement.”
The coach attributed the growth to his work ethic. Bazler originally joined the program when a knee injury sidelined him during his freshman year.
“With him having an injury, it blessed our team,” Crabtree said. “If it wasn’t for the knee injury, he would’ve been a basketball player the past four years.”
The state meet also came with some personal history as in his favorite event, the squat, Bazler reached the 500-pound plateau. He was quick to say the goal wasn’t just an individual recognition.
“Just the feeling of accomplishment I got from four years of lifting and just going through every year, trying to get stronger and the team better,” Bazler said.
With his sport being relatively friendly, Bazler did have one rival each time he went to a meet. Once teammates on the football team, Wheelersburg’s Travis Sifford was always someone Bazler liked to comptete against. The rivalry was so intense that Bazler stepped up a weight class to beat his former ally.
“Just a freindly rivalry,” Bazler said.
New faces will be in the Northwest powerlifting program next year, which will look to build upon its recent success. Bazler will move on to college but look to continue as an assistant in the program. Crabtree, who restarted the program in the 2005-2006 school year with Kyle Moore and Ryan Weakley, will hand the reigns over to Mark Smith as Crabtree opens up a family pizza business.
Bazler hopes his tenure at the school will be an encouragement for future generations to take up the sport. Even though a tough diet throughout the year may be the biggest challenge, he says the end result is worth it.
Cody Leist can be reached at 353-3101, ext. 294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Cody on Twitter @CodyLeist.