Steamboat Springs Ben Wetzel and Clark Kent have a few things in common. They both look like everyday guys, they both have a humble attitude, and they both can lift 330 pounds over their heads.
On July 27 and 28, Wetzel did all but reveal the “S” on his chest at the Rocky Mountain State Games weightlifting competition where he took home gold in the 85 kilogram (187 pounds) weight class.
He won the snatch, putting up 115 kg (253 pounds) and won the clean and jerk by lifting 134 kg (295 pounds). Both of those lifts were below his personal bests of 125 kg and 150 kg, respectively, but they each were good enough to earn him the top spot in the junior division, which includes 18- to 20-year-old weightlifters.
“I was definitely satisfied with my performance,” Wetzel said. “I knew exactly what I had to get, and I got it.”
For the 20-year-old Wetzel, who moved to Steamboat Springs in April, the competition was the culmination of the arduous hours he had spent in the CrossFit Steamboat gym during the past four months.
“It’s tough just mentally,” Wetzel said. “You train for so long, and you only get three lifts, so it’s a lot of pressure to make those lifts.”
The surprising mental toughness the sport requires is just one example of the misconstrued perception of weightlifting, Wetzel said.
“The biggest misconception is people confuse it with bodybuilding,” Wetzel said. “We’re not there to get bigger. We’re only there to get stronger.”
Mike McCannon, owner of CrossFit, added that when most people picture weightlifting competitors, they see these giant men whose figure makes them comparable to a beach ball with arms.
“It’s not like that at all. It’s a very athletic sport,” McCannon said. “You have to be quick. You have to be flexible. You have to be agile.”
Wetzel, who is ranked second in the nation in the junior division for the 85 kg weight class, is working to become better in all of those areas during the next four months.
He has good reason to keep training, as his performance at the Rocky Mountain State Games sealed him a spot in the 2013 USA Weightlifting American Open. It’s just one more step for Wetzel on the road to fulfilling his dream.
“For me, the ultimate goal is to qualify and compete in the Olympics,” Wetzel said.
“For a young person, he is extremely focused and driven,” McCannon said. “I think he’s got his whole life ahead of him. The sky is the limit.”
Jake Miller, a 2012 graduate of Steamboat Springs High School, is working as a summer intern for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. He recently completed his freshman year at Nebraska Wesleyan University.
Join the Yampa Valley VIP email club