By Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
It’s been said that things happen in threes. Shawn Koutsouros, 50th Space Communications Squadron, made sure that wasn’t the case Friday at the annual Schriever Air Force Base bench press and dead lift competition.
The 114-pound Koutsouros bench pressed 225 pounds and dead lifted 295 pounds to narrowly defeat two-time defending champion Rodrigo Ocampo, 4th Space Operations Squadron, for the overall male title.
“(The win) felt great,” Koutsouros said. “This was just something I thought would be fun, I didn’t expect to win.”
Much like Ocampo two years ago, this was Koutsouros’ first time competing in a weightlifting event. He credited his leadership for having faith in his abilities and pushing him to compete.
“I didn’t know what to expect, but (my leadership) knew that I stood a good chance,” Koutsouros said.
He added that even though the event is a competition, all the participants were supportive and cheering each other on throughout.
Following a second-place finish in last year’s event, Chantel Anderson took home the top female honors this year. Anderson, a contractor with the Missile Defense Agency, bench pressed 115 pounds and was able to dead lift 205 pounds.
“It felt good,” Anderson said of the win. “My body weight dropped a little from last year, but so did my dead lift. I think the drop in body weight helped get my ratio up.”
Anderson won the event two years ago, her first time competing. She said that her primary sports focus is racquetball and that she started participating in Crossfit workouts to help build her all-around core strength. It was those workouts that encouraged her to get into more powerlifting events. Anderson added that she tries to compete in all the major base athletic events to represent MDA.
“There’s starting to be more of a female presence in sports, and I think things like Crossfit are contributing to that,” Anderson said. “The number of female competitors has increased each year I’ve participated in (the bench press and dead lift) event.”
Event director Seth Canello also noted the increase in female participants, and added that even those who don’t believe they can win should still give the event a try.
“I personally don’t believe events like the bench press and dead lift competition are only for the people that win,” Canello said. “I feel the participants who get the most out of our activities are the people who use them as baselines to try to improve from year to year.”
In order to make the competition more fair for people of all sizes, Cannello set up the competition based on ratio of weight lifted to body weight, so everyone starts on a level playing field.
While big numbers have been put up in this event in previous years, including a new base bench press record set last year, this year’s competition didn’t feature many eye-popping feats of strength. Only one competitor, Carson Cleveland, 50th Operations Support Squadron, went more than 300 pounds in the bench press, while Jonathon Farill, 1st Space Operations Squadron, was the sole competitor able to successfully dead lift more than 400 pounds.
It should be noted, that while a 225-pound bench press may not look like a big number (it’s what NFL prospects rep at the league’s annual combine event) it’s nearly double the weight of the 114-pound man that put it up.
“I’ve never been able to quite double my body weight on the bench,” Koutsouros said. “I came up just three pounds shy this time, but I still set a personal record.”
Combining the two events, Koutsouros, Ocampo and Cleveland (who finished third) all lifted more than four times their body weight. While Anderson and Meagan Titus, 4 SOPS, both managed to lift more than double their body weight.
Canello said that response to the event was highly positive and that he hopes it will lead to even more participants next year.
Koutsouros is already looking forward to defending his title.
“I’ve encouraged others to give it a try and give me a run for my money,” he said. “I’m definitely going to do it again next year.”
The fitness center hosts the Schriever Bench Press and Dead Lift Competition each January. Contact the fitness center at 567-6628 for information on next year’s event or for tips and advice on weight training.