Work ethic is St. Ed’s weightlifting team’s strong suit

The regular season and Senior Night are already in the history books for St. Ed’s varsity boys weightlifting team, and now comes the wait to see how many Pirates qualify for the district meet on Saturday.

It’s a complicated formula often exacerbated by lifters changing weight classes, the number of meets a person participates in, the number of potential qualifiers from a given school in a single weight class, etc. To further blur the picture, on a very rare occasion some math-challenged official makes an unintentional numerical miscalculation, which of course is usually corrected upon further review.

Head coach Les Rogers cited four of his athletes as current shoo-ins – or on the cusp – to make districts, but he was cautious for the reasons just mentioned.

“Right now Giordan Gulati and Jasper Nelson are already in the top eight in the district at (weight class) 119,” Rogers told us about the qualifying criteria. “CH Brown has qualified at 129 and JP Scott is nine or 10 at 169. So three guys are in, and we won’t know about JP until Tuesday or Wednesday (of this week).”

This has to be one of the more satisfying seasons for Rogers. The team doubled in size from last year, and the coach always prefers the weight room to be a loud cacophony with shouts of encouragement followed by iron crashing to the floor.

“This year we are a whole lot stronger in numbers with 18 lifters,” Rogers said. “I think the largest team I’ve ever had was about 21, and that was a long time ago.

“It’s nice to have that many kids in here and it definitely improves the competition on the team. The kids push each other to do better. It’s really nice when you have that type of competition inside your own weight room. A lot of the kids developed a relationship with a training partner. That really helps them out and I love to see that.

“And then too, along the way, I’ve got a lot of young lifters. That’s really nice because I know I’m building for the future. Hopefully they will stick with it and develop good technique while they are still young. As they mature the numbers will really start to come in for them.”

Actually, that is already happening. Gulati, Nelson and Brown are veteran eighth-graders – if there can possibly be such a thing.

“Those three have been lifting since they were in sixth grade,” Rogers said. “So having them stick with it through middle school improves the chances of them sticking with it through high school. They might be pulled in different directions with academics, clubs, other sports and things like that, but hopefully they will develop a real love for this sport and stick with it.”

So sticking with it is a big theme, and Rogers has a great example of that for the younger kids to observe and emulate. Last year Edward Klinsport became the first seven-year weightlifter coached by Rogers. This year senior Scott, who also started in sixth grade, will finish with six years under his belt, only because he missed one year when he moved out of state.

“JP has always been loyal to the program,” Rogers said. “He always comes back, does what he is supposed to do, and he always works hard in the weight room. I can look at him and objectively say he’s got the top form and top technique on the team.

“That makes me excited for the younger kids because I know they are starting at the same time JP did. So if those kids have the same kind of enthusiasm and stick with it, they will do a fantastic job like JP is doing right now.”

Scott concluded the regular season with a flourish by placing first in successive meets with combined personal best totals of 330 pounds.

Rogers will lose three seniors (Scott, David Gambee and David Israel) from what he says is “a very nice group of kids to work with. The energy in the weight room is fantastic. With so many guys on the team we have filled as many as seven of the 10 weight classes at meets.

“It was really cool to have that many lifters at a meet. I mean we were scoring some points. Even if we weren’t knocking a home run with the totals, we were putting guys in weight classes and they were doing fairly well for themselves.

“And it is great to work with so many young kids. This is their first experience in the weight room and they haven’t developed any bad habits. I’m excited for the potential of these kids going forward.”

If they stick with it.

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