WPAFB hosts 10th powerlifting competition

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mikaley Kline
  • 88th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio – The sounds of thunderous cheers and clanging weights was thick throughout Wright Field Fitness Center during a recent powerlifting competition on base.

Puffs of chalk waft around as competitors coat their hands before attempting a lift.

It was a day in which competitors pushed themselves physically and mentally to the max.

Gabi Lesko, an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center security specialist, secured a new 340-pound deadlift personal record en route to capturing the women’s championship.

“This was my first experience in a powerlifting atmosphere and being around people who are hyped to help you get your numbers up,” said Lesko, who took fourth place overall in the competition. “The numbers felt good, and the weight moved pretty clean, so I’m pretty surprised with how much fun it was.”

A gymnast for 20 years, Lesko says she spends two hours in the gym every day after work.

“I missed competing and having that itch to do better,” she said. “All the gym bros around me saw my numbers and pushed me to compete. I thought – ‘Why not?’ – since I’m already in the gym every day, so I might as well start training toward something and get myself other goals.”

Capt. Anthony Bilal, an Air Force Life Cycle Management Center contracting officer, was the event’s overall winner for the second straight year.

Overall, 12 individuals participated in the competition, staged for the 10th time at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

“The reason I like doing this is because it’s always a highly requested event and it has been for the last 10 years,” said Rick Stanton, 88th Force Support Squadron’s Dodge Fitness Center personal trainer and the event’s coordinator. “The men and women love it and it’s a motivation for them. People want to know where they are at physically, and they want to compete against other people.”

Stanton’s love for everything fitness is another strong motivating factor for wanting to host these competitions.

“I love fitness and everything about powerlifting,” he added. “I was a competitive powerlifter, and I just want to share all the knowledge I’ve gotten over the years with other people.”

WPAFB fitness centers hosted buildup events in the fall leading up to the main powerlifting competition.

“People are asking us to do more buildup events,” Stanton said. “We’ll have a single month of deadlifting, squat or bench press competitions so that people can come out and test their performance before participating in a full competition.”

Lesko offered some encouraging advice to those who want to get into fitness but feel hesitant about it.

“All you have to do is show up for yourself and then you’re going to see the change that you want to see in yourself,” she said. “Going to the gym helps you focus on making yourself better, so don’t worry about what other people are thinking.”

Everybody in the gym had to start at the bottom and work their way up, she added.

“I was never anyone that lifted heavy since we did bodyweight stuff in gymnastics, so this is all new to me, too,” Lesko said. “So, all I did was show up and be consistent with it … Don’t let anyone scare you away.”