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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : sports : sports May 26, 2016

7/3/2013 11:53:00 AM
American Challenge helps new lifters, Rec-N-Cru impresses
The Mingus Union High School Rec-N-Cru contingent, flanked by Tim McKeever Sr. (left) and Mike DiQuattro (right), poses with their medals and hardware following the first day of the Arizona American Challenge. VVN/Travis Guy
The Mingus Union High School Rec-N-Cru contingent, flanked by Tim McKeever Sr. (left) and Mike DiQuattro (right), poses with their medals and hardware following the first day of the Arizona American Challenge. VVN/Travis Guy
Power lifter Brandon Carr set a new world record when he dead-lifted just over 700 pounds, or about 317 kilograms, at the American Challenge. VVN/Travis Guy
Power lifter Brandon Carr set a new world record when he dead-lifted just over 700 pounds, or about 317 kilograms, at the American Challenge. VVN/Travis Guy
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The Arizona American Challenge National Championship Regional Meet was hosted by the Rec-N-Cru Power Team of Cottonwood and had participants coming from all over to compete on Saturday, June 29, 2013.

Travis Guy
Sports Reporter

Records were broke, goals were hit and new lifters impressed when the Rec-N-Cru hosted the Arizona American Challenge 2013 power-lifting event.

The American Challenge was unlike most meets, in that during the month of June, there were 10 events under the same name that happened through the nation. The reason for that was to offer lifters a chance to compete and set records against other people that, while not at the same meet, were still competing against each other through the 100 percent Raw Powerlifting Federation.

The meet also featured the debut of the Rec-N-Cru high school team, which is composed of members of Mingus Union High School and other high schools through the state. The team won the team award at the meet, but they were the only team competing, everyone else was there as individuals.

"It was the debut meet for the high school Rec-N-Cru team power team, they did phenomenal," said Rec-N-Cru founder and head coach Tim McKeever Sr. "As usual, you can always do better and they will do better, but they did very, very well, set a lot of world records. I'm real confident that we're going to take at least one of the two national awards, either for best bench only or dead lift only."

While the meet debuted the team, it was also the first power-lifting event for many of the participants, including a good majority of the Mingus athletes. McKeever said that it was a good competition for the beginners because of the size of the meet, about 30 percent smaller than normal, which allowed officials and veterans some time to help the newcomers.

"The meet was great," McKeever said. "A lot of first time lifters, and since it wasn't as large as our meets normally are, it was about 30 percent less, it gave us time to help the first time lifters."

One of the first-time lifters, Bailey Underwood, has been working out with McKeever and football strength and conditioning coach Mike DiQuattro for the past few weeks. He said that since he started the program, he has gotten faster and stronger and was happy with how he did at the American Challenge.

"I thought it was really interesting," Bailey said. I never actually lifted anything, so I thought I would do bad, but I didn't. I actually broke a couple records."

While he did succeed in setting two world records (bench and total weight), the day was not without its mishaps for him.

"On a couple of them, I kind of screwed up, like on my dead lift, I fell backwards, which wasn't fun," Bailey said. "But on my next lift I got it up and I was happy."

One of Bailey's teammates, Cordell McKeever, has been lifting and been to power-lifting events before. Being a part of the high school Rec-N-Cru team offered the more experienced lifter a chance to refine his form and technique. The junior went into the American Challenge signed up for one lift and had one goal in mind, set a new state record in the bench press. He did that and then some with a lift of 232 pounds, 23 more than the previous record.

"I thought it was pretty good. I shattered the state record, so I feel pretty good right now (on bench press)," Cordell said. "I was expecting it. I felt really good today and I was expecting that I was going to shatter it."

While some of the lifters did well at the event, others did not do as well as they were hoping, but McKeever said that would be good for them and the lessons they would take away form it.

"The kids themselves prepared well," McKeever said. "Some of them got some lessons in humility by learning that shortcuts aren't going to get you there."

McKeever is hoping to use the high school team as a way to raise awareness in the community that getting children started young in an activity will benefit them. He boasted that the average GPA on the team is 3.1, and the team is comprised of real student-athletes.

"I'm hoping that with this awareness, that not necessarily everybody wants to compete in power lifting, but understanding that you start with your youth, you get them going early with the right atmosphere and the right community support, it makes a difference," McKeever said. "My main goal is to get them sharp enough and efficient enough in their school so they have a better chance for scholarships. The average grade point [average] on our team is 3.1 [GPA]. We have, truly, student athletes, its great."

The Rec-N-Cru founder was happy with how his older team fared, despite some changes that are happening with the team currently.

"Due to different jobs and marriages and moving out-of-state, we're looking for good adult members," McKeever said. "We had a group of ladies called the Iron Maidens, and all of them were ranked and all of them were national champions, and through marriage, jobs and this type of thing [they are not with the Rec-N-Cru anymore]."

One of the Rec-N-Cru's older members, Scottsdale resident Gene Lawrence, 74-years-old, showed that age is just a number when he set a slew of records, which, according to McKeever, is nothing new for him.

"We had our oldest member, Gene Lawrence, he's 74. He broke three or four world records, like he always does; this is the ninth meet he's competed in this year," McKeever said. "The adults fared well, took their divisions."

Another adult that performed well was Northern Arizona University math teacher Bianca Luedeker. She was joined by her family, all of who also participated in the event and are joining the power-lifting club.

"We had Bianca Luedeker, 'the professor,' and as usual, she set records with her whole family, so her adult family, her mom, her dad and her brother are going to join the Rec-N-Cru," McKeever said.

And while not a part of the Rec-n-Cru, Brandon Carr was the highlight of the weekend, setting a new world record in the dead lift by lifting just over 700 pounds.

All in all, McKeever was please with the weekend and grateful for the help he received from the community.

"I cant say enough about Snap Fitness, [and] Quality Inn has just been tremendous," McKeever said. "Overall good meet. For so many new lifters, this was the perfect meet, a lot of competition, a lot of very good lifting and most of them did better than I thought they were going to, it was excellent."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, July 8, 2013
Article comment by: Jay, Shannon & Alanna Calandra

Congratulations Heather! Everyone is proud of you! Congratulations to everyone on a job well done..Love Uncle Jay, Aunt Shannon & Alanna

Posted: Saturday, July 6, 2013
Article comment by: Heather Calandra

@we know she did... I dont know what your problem is with me, or why you would stoop down to a level that obviously could hurt a teenage girls feelings, but I do know that I work my butt off to accomplish everything I have and there is nothing wrong with getting recognition for it. I'm not saying I should take other peoples spot light and honestly I think every high schooler should have been mentioned in this article. There was no need for you to publicly try to put me down. Thanks.

Posted: Friday, July 5, 2013
Article comment by: we know she did

@other people did well in the meet...we know Heather Calandra did well too. She is recognized in every other article. Just because this time others were highlighted besides her for once isnt something to get upset with. Unless you happen to be a parent..,.get over it. there are others that deserve to be mention for once other than her.

Posted: Thursday, July 4, 2013
Article comment by: Other people did well in the meet

Heather Calandra set multiple records at this meet as well. It is not uncommon for her, but should still be recognized. She also is the only Mingus athlete to take home a trophy (for best squat). But apparently that must not have been good enough to mention in her home town newspaper.

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