Alex Toledo/ Contributing Writer
FIU’s Powerlifting team reached new heights last weekend, on April 15 and April 16, 2016. The team performed at the 2016 USA Powerlifting Collegiate National Championships in Providence, Rhode Island for the first time, where the women’s team finished in sixth place, while the men’s team finished in third place.
FIU Powerlifting Head Coach Bill Hennessey touted and praised his team for their performance, saying that it “feels fantastic” to succeed in the way they have, and that he has some of the smarter and more talented lifters in the country.
He is a major proponent of lifting “smart”, rather than always being the strongest lifter, and that it is all about “competing against the bar”, rather than just competing against the rest of the competition, citing mental strength many times.
Hennessey also points to how hard his lifters work, training multiple times a week and with different methods of training in order to maximize their improvement. He is all about strategy and feels that it is an underrated part of success in powerlifting.
Finally, he was most proud because of the fact that although FIU’s Powerlifting program is not a scholarship program, they competed against scholarship programs anyway, and “punched them all in the teeth”, which he thought was “truly remarkable.”
Hennessey feels that the future of FIU Powerlifting looks “excellent” and enhanced his praise by adding that FIU Powerlifting “is the most successful sports program at FIU.”
He said that they do not plan on relinquishing the state title, and the team wants to win it every year, and feels like they absolutely can. He emphasized, also, that the team “would not enjoy this success” without Assistant Coach Katharina Pajic, calling her an “integral part” of the team and finished that by saying that there would be “no way to manage without her.”
Some of the more significant finishes pointed out by Hennessey were: senior Leandria Ates, who finished second in the country at 138 pounds while competing with torn knee ligaments, senior Vincent Victorero who placed fourth at 199 pounds, junior Gabriel Llanes who finished third nationally at 250 pounds, sophomore co-captain Roman Fronzaglia who won the silver medal for the 130 pound class, graduate student and co-captain Kimberly Acosta who won the bronze medal in the women’s 114 pound class and junior Emmanuel Lokolo who won the bronze medal in the super heavyweight class in his second meet ever.
According to Coach Hennessey, this is the third year that the team has been around. In their first year of competing, the team dethroned Florida State University, who had won for seven consecutive years at the time, in the Collegiate State Championships, where the men’s team finished in first place and the women’s team finished in second. The next year, 2015, both men and women’s team got first place at the Collegiate State Championships. They won first place in both men and women again before their first Collegiate National Championship berth this year.
There are tryouts for the travel team every other month or by appointment with Head Coach Hennessey. The team conducts multiple fundraisers throughout the year in order to help fund hotel, plane tickets and other costs needed to perform.
Bill Hennessey believes in hard, smart, and strategic work in order to maximize results, but believes in instilling and enjoying a family-like atmosphere and culture within the team.
He feels that this team is wound together like a family.