When 2014 Soldotna High School graduate Kiana Hendricks was competing in track and field, volleyball, basketball and soccer with the Stars, lifting weights was a way of preparing for sports.
Now that Hendricks, daughter of Katie Ozhuwan and Skip Hendricks of Soldotna, is a junior at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, weightlifting is her sport.
Hendricks finished fourth in her weight class at USA Powerlifting Collegiate Nationals on April 9 in San Antonio. She was competing in 185 pounds and over in collegiate raw, which means no straps or suits were used that would aid her lifts.
Hendricks said she started going to the weight room as a junior and senior at Soldotna when Galen Brantley Jr., her throws coach, suggested that the work would boost Hendricks to state-meet qualification in both the shot put and discus. She did qualify for state in both those events as a junior and senior.
At Colorado State, where her major is health and exercise science - sports medicine, Hendricks pursued that powerlifting passion. She started a powerlifting club with one of her friends as a freshman, then started a Colorado State powerlifting club this spring.
In December, Hendricks started training at the Raintree Athletic Club in Fort Collins with the goal of qualifying for collegiate nationals, which she did in February.
Hendricks said she has been able to achieve success due to support of her friends, family and coaches, specifically Eric Bodhorn and Leanna Carr. Bodhorn is responsible for her powerlifting program, while Carr has a masters in sports psychology and helps with the mental side of the sport.
After mentally doubting herself and exhibiting some technique flaws in the qualifier, Hendricks went into nationals more prepared.
“Being able to work with a masters in sports psychology, we both knew I was more than capable of lifting the weights assigned to me,” Hendricks said.
Hendricks started the meet with the squat. After 303 pounds was no problem on the second of three lifts, she boosted her third lift from 314 to 319 and still nailed that.
In the bench, she started with lifts of 154 and 165, which she had already done during training in the weight room. She jumped her final attempt from 171 to 176 and missed that because she lifted her hip off the bench.
In the deadlift, things got confusing. She easily hit 330 and 352, then nailed her third lift. But due to a loading error, that lift was lighter than she requested. So she came back to do 369.
“That one flew up,” Hendricks said. “I knew I had a lot more in me.”
The top two lifters in Hendricks’ weight class — Heidi Lewis of Ohio State and Melissa Reyes of University of Texas at San Antonio — both finished with a three-lift total of 898. Abbie Leschinsky of Nebraska was third at 865, while Hendricks was fourth of 11 lifters at 854. All of her lifts were personal records in competition.
But on April 14, after almost a week of rest and still at her peak in her training cycle, coaches had Hendricks do a mock meet at the gym and she increased her bench press to 180 and her deadlift to 385. The extra 31 pounds puts her in the neighborhood of the top collegiate lifters in the country.
“It’s disappointing to know I had a lot more in me,” Hendricks said. “It could have happened at this meet, but this is just a start.”
She said the plan is to rest for a week and start training for the USA Powerlifting Raw Nationals in October.