Reaching redemption

Peterson becomes national powerlifting champion

At powerlifting nationals, senior Will Peterson poses for a picture after winning a national title. Peterson won nationals just a month after earning the state title in March. (Courtesy photo)

After losing by only five pounds to the powerlifting national champion last year, senior Will Peterson finally got his “redemption” by placing first at the 2023 USA Powerlifting High School Nationals on Apr. 2, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. 

“It was definitely the biggest win I’ve ever personally had. Especially last year, I came within five pounds of winning and lost,” Peterson said. “So getting that close and then actually winning definitely felt like I got a redemption of sorts.”

This win didn’t come without months of preparation, however. Peterson kept a routine he stuck to and never missed a day of training, as one of his coaches, Dustin Slepicka, explained. 

“Will really did most of the work. What I mean by that is in all my years of coaching, he is the only kid that never misses a training practice,” Slepicka said. “The only thing that I can take some credit for is helping him be as prepared as he could be and have his form and training cycle as perfect as we could leading into state [and] then nationals.”

Peterson’s work ethic and training were accounted for in his performance at nationals, where he competed in the 308 weight class in the raw category. The competition started at 2 p.m. with squat, moved to bench press and ended with deadlift at 4:30 p.m. 

When we were sure Will had won, we all cheered and I was so proud. No one else deserved it as much [as] he did, and his performance proved that.

— Dustin Slepicka

“The speed of the meet was easily the fastest meet I’ve ever competed in before because usually meets are around five or six hours long, which allows for more recovery time,” Peterson said.

Despite the time not allowing for much recovery between lifts, Peterson still “squatted 573 [pounds], benched 353 [pounds] and deadlifted at 589 [pounds].” This led to Peterson winning by a margin of 15 pounds between him and the runner-up. 

“When we were sure Will had won, we all cheered and I was so proud,” Slepicka said. “No one else deserved it as much [as] he did, and his performance proved that.”

After all his success of winning state and nationals this year, Peterson is looking forward to powerlifting in college at Concordia University and continuing to earn more titles.

“Now with reaching the pinnacle, I want to stay there for as long as possible,” Peterson said. “Just continual progression, hopefully more records [and] more championships.”