Cadet Clinches First in Powerlifting Nationals
Cadet John Rivas ’13 shoulders a 755-pound squat during the Men’s National Powerlifting Championships. – Photo courtesy of John Rivas.
LEXINGTON, Va., June 27, 2012 – The performance of Cadet John Rivas ’13 at the USA Powerlifting Men’s National Powerlifting Championships in Orlando, Fla., June 23 secured his position among the top powerlifters in the nation and earned him an alternate spot on the U.S. national team.
Rivas lifted a combined total of 1,891 pounds in the three lifts: a 755-pound squat, a 475-pound bench press, and a 661-pound deadlift. That score earned him first place in the 105-kilogram junior division and represented the second highest score among all 105-kilogram divisions.
Those three lifts were the culmination of over a year of intense training and dedication.
“Starting in May of 2011, I dedicated everything over a year to get to where I am,” said Rivas. “I’ve made great gains, so it’s time to keep the ball rolling and set some national records.”
Sgt. David Henson, VMI Police officer and powerlifting coach, attested to Rivas’ dedication.
“He won’t leave the weight room until he’s spent,” said Henson. “We do high-intensity, high-volume workouts for two hours four times a week.”
Rivas returned to competition this year following an injury that prevented him from competing during the 2010-11 season.
“I lifted in Orlando for collegiate nationals my freshman year, and I remember thinking to myself I could never be that strong. That’s insane … a 600 squat,” said Rivas. “Coming back for men’s nationals to the same ballroom where I competed as a freshman and squatting 755 was redemption for me.”
Since returning to competition, Rivas has been building upon success after success, notably a fourth-place All-American finish in April at the National Collegiate Powerlifting Championships.
“Being All-American is a great accomplishment,” said Rivas. “However, if you truly love the sport you always want to improve, so being fourth was only motivation to do better.”
Doing better meant continuing his intense training regimen four days a week throughout the first summer term and carefully ordering his lifestyle to meet the sport’s physical demands.
“It’s sort of tough when you watch all your friends having a good time, but you know it’s all worth it when you see the improvements from meet to meet,” said Rivas.
Those improvements are huge. In just 16 months, Rivas has managed to increase his squat weight by 222 pounds.
“We got what we worked for,” said Henson. “The school and team have a lot to be proud of, and we are excited to be heading into his senior season as the number one lifter in the nation.”
Whether Rivas will compete in Poland at the world championships at the end of August is a matter of circumstance, since he is currently positioned as the first alternate for the U.S. team.
In any event, Rivas will return to VMI this fall to train and compete alongside his teammates, many of whom show great promise for next year.
“We’re really expecting to do well,” said Henson, “not only at the state, but at the national collegiate level.”
VMI’s powerlifters are able to train harder and set their sights higher because of the support they’re getting from the Institute, their coaches, and one another.
“You wouldn’t believe the unity of the cadets on this team, how they help each other out,” said Henson. “It amazes me, even though they have so many responsibilities, how dedicated they are to one another.”
–John Robertson IV