Glen Acha arrived late — Crocs in tow — to the Carroll County Power Lifting Meet at High School Westminster on Saturday.
The Winters Mill junior got to the school around 9:40 a.m., about 40 minutes after the meet started. Blame the forgotten alarm clock, he said, but he made up for lost time in his first year competing in the meet. Acha was voted the best male lifter with a combined weight of 782 pounds.
"I started at 315 for squat, moved up to 385 and got it the first time, but I felt dizzy," Acha said. "I did 405 before but I tried today and couldn't get it. In bench, I did 225 to start and moved up to 245 but it's a pause rep so I didn't know what max I would be, so I did 255 and I got it."
Carroll County's seven high schools had representation in the meet, now in its third year, and about 30-35 athletes competed. The meet is compromised of three main lifts — squat, bench press and deadlift, and each lift is split into four flights. Each lifter could make three attempts for each lift, often adding weight each time.
Acha, a Winters Mill football player, was first exposed to weightlifting when he was in eighth grade, he said. His brother took him to the gym to lift and Acha enjoyed it so much that he decided to stick with it in high school.
"Some of my weights were heavier today," Acha said, holding his trophy. "I'm pretty happy."
South Carroll senior Devin Scales, fresh off helping the Cavaliers' softball team reach the Class 2A state finals this spring, was named the top girls lifter of the meet for the second consecutive year after lifting a combined weight of 690 pounds.
Scales maxed out at 265 pounds for squat, 125 in the bench press and she dead lifted 300 pounds, 10 pounds more than her initial goal.
"I've seen myself grow a lot," Scales said. "With softball, it's helped me tremendously with my footwork, with catching, with power hitting this year with my two home runs and everything. I've seen myself improve a lot with my strength."
Last year, Scales maxed out at 255 pounds for dead lift after lifting 255 and 260 pounds in her previous two tries. She started at 250 on Saturday, increased to 270 on her second lift but was hesitant to add the extra 30 pounds for her third attempt.
AJ and Vince Rusbosin, Scales' weightlifting coaches, told her to try the additional weight anyway and she trusted their guidance. The brothers created Four County Strength and Conditioning seven years ago, a training program designed to help local athletes build their strength and improve their athletic skills.
Scales started training with the Rusbosins in the summer before her freshman year. She's still reaping the benefits of the program's workouts four years later and plans to continue training to prepare for college softball at Johnson and Wales-Providence.
"I lift with them two to three times a week and they've helped me through softball into my power hitting too," Scales said. "I owe everything I've done to those two."
Linda Kephart, the county's supervisor of Health and Physical Education, also runs the power lifting meet. In the event's three years, she's seen programs in the schools expand and coaches come in to help train students — it's made all the difference, she said.
"Any gain of strength is going to be even better on the court or on the field," Kephart said. "The stronger they are, the better they will perform. Strength is really the foundation and it can help avoid knee and hip injuries if the kids are stronger so really for athletics for high school kids, getting stronger is the key."