Lopes stay ‘golden’ through entire season
By: Giovanni Hicks/ GCU Club Sports Writing Staff
Competing in only their second season as a team, the Grand Canyon University Powerlifting Club cleaned up the competition with first-place finishes in every meet they participated in this year. Entering in events from Yuma to Flagstaff, the Lopes had an extremely successful 2021 campaign despite the unprecedented conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’m so proud of this team,” said Lopes’ Head Coach Jimmy Vasquez. “Although we weren’t able to have our typical full gym sessions, we were still able to accomplish a lot.”
At the beginning of the season, Vasquez set a goal to recruit more women for the team in an effort to break the stigma associated with female lifters. One of his recruits, Lopes’ senior Hannah Gutierrez, lifted 506 pounds in total weight and placed first in the Women’s Junior 20-23 division in her first-ever meet.
Meanwhile, Taylor Oda, who was promoted to assistant coach at the beginning of the year, has been a pillar for the Lopes’ success this season through her coaching and guidance.
“Taylor has positively impacted so many of our athletes,” said Vasquez. “She picked people up when they were down, and inspired people – on and off campus – with her work ethic.”
Oda worked closely with Nathan Hong while preparing and performing in his first powerlifting meet, pushing him in practice and aiding his confidence. Oda’s effective coaching helped Hong become the third Lope in 2020-21 to earn the No. 1 spot in their first-ever event, joining Gutierrez and Theodore Kruger, who lifted 1,112 total pounds in his meet.
The most impressive achievement of the season came during GCU’s final meet when Vasquez and Christian Kramer simultaneously collected first-place honors in their respective divisions. Vasquez took his performance to the next level, shattering national records for the fifth time in his powerlifting career. Vasquez and Kramer’s dominant performances qualified them for the United States Powerlifting Association Drug Tested Nationals and Worlds, while Vasquez additionally qualified for the USPA Non-Tested Worlds.
“as a team, over the course of this season we all helped each other not only in training but in life” said Vasquez. “We grew together and became closer as a team and a family.”
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