GVSU strength club places first at University Throwdown Series
The Lakers had over half of the team competing in their first event
The Grand Valley State strength club took first place in the University Throwdown Series Sunday, Nov. 20 at Saginaw Valley State. This win keeps the Lakers undefeated versus in-state teams and also makes it GVSU’s fifth consecutive victory in this specific event.
The University Throwdown Series is a CrossFit style competition that occurs once every semester among many universities throughout Michigan. The competition Sunday was between the Lakers, host SVSU and Ferris State.
GVSU finished the five-round competition with a cumulative score of 390 compared to second place FSU (384) and third place SVSU (350).
Despite having over half of the team competing in their first-ever strength competition, the Lakers remained confident about their chances.
“If we run our race, if we do what we know we can do, than we know we should win,” first-year member Isaiah Bleiler said.
Five days a week, every week, the GVSU strength club trains in the Fieldhouse weight room. Training consists of a rigorous regimen that contains CrossFit, Powerlifting and Olympic lifting styles.
While the amount of training that goes into one event may seem excessive, the Lakers needed every rep of practice to take first place this semester.
Event one consisted of 40 snatches of 135 pounds, 30 snatches of 155 pounds and 20 snatches of 175 pounds for time. The second event immediately followed without any time for rest in between. This event included 20 clean jerks of 205 pounds, 10 clean jerks of 225 pounds and five clean jerks of 245 pounds for time.
The Lakers took first place in events one and two, each by large margins over FSU and SVSU.
After a small rest, event three began, which was a relay style event. The relay began with 1,000-meter rows followed by 50 thrusters of 45 pounds. Ferris was ahead for nearly all of the third event until the Lakers closed the deficit in the final set of 30 pull-ups, ultimately winning the third event.
The Lakers had a small setback in event four by finishing last. This was an outdoor event that included four rounds of a 400-meter run and 25-meter sled push of 500 pounds.
“That event gave our team the biggest trouble,” said GVSU strength club president Adam Marthaler. “The outdoor conditions were so cold and the heavy sled gave us a tough time.”
Going into the fifth and final event, the Lakers led FSU by just one point. The winner of the fifth event was going to be the winner of the whole competition.
“We didn’t even know what the last event was going to be until a couple minutes before,” Marthaler said.
Just moments before the event began, the exercises were revealed: 200 medicine ball throws, 150 toe bars, 100 pistol squats and 40-foot handstand walks for time.
“When I saw the handstand walks were going to be on the event, I was kind of hesitant,” Bleiler said. “What if I couldn’t do them, what if I couldn’t finish the event?”
The Lakers conveniently started implementing handstand walks into their practice regimen just a couple weeks ago.
GVSU found itself behind FSU for the majority of the event until the handstand walks. Led by Bleiler, the Lakers made a swift comeback to secure the fifth event and claim the competition win.
“I was a little bit nervous in the fifth event, just hoping my body would hold up,” Bleiler said.
Sophomores Lauren Ziegler and JD Jean-Jules dealt with similar difficulties competing in their first competition—they are two of five rookies on the squad this season. Despite this, the club and the inexperienced members were able to pull their weight.
“Overall, it was a great win for GVSU. Everyone on our team did their jobs and we are able to continue our undefeated record,” Marthaler said.