This year’s Basehor-Linwood Bobcat Powerlifting Invitational featured close to 1,000 student-athletes competing, with Ruskin student-athletes taking an average place of sixth or seventh across all weight classes.

Ruskin student-athletes pumping serious iron

Weight lifting program develops under coach Sal Badali 

By Tyler Schneider and Jeanne Tucker 

Through two competitions, the Ruskin High School Weight Lifting program has seen every athlete set at least one new personal record. It’s a fact that head coach Sal Badali takes great pride in as he guides the team in preparing for their final outing of the season, to be held at North Kansas City High School. 

A relative newcomer to the high school athletics circuit, weight lifting and powerlifting are gaining in popularity as a safe and beneficial alternative to contact sports, or in other cases as a supplement to an out-of-season sport. 

“Weightlifting and powerlifting competitions are a great opportunity for those that are not currently competing in a winter sport. This training is not sport-specific which means any student-athlete wanting to improve their athletic performance can benefit,” Badali said. 

Badali has 15 years of experience in strength and conditioning, and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association. Badali’s goal every single year is to increase the participation numbers. Ruskin currently has 16 student-athletes participating in the program.

The first two meets of the season took place at the 2023 Leavenworth Powerlifting Meet and the 16th Annual Basehor-Linwood Bobcat Powerlifting Invitational. The latter draws competitors from both Missouri and Kansas. This meet can be seen as a preliminary state championship, with the best of the best in Kansas participating. All in all, this year’s invite featured close to 1,000 student-athletes competing, with Ruskin student-athletes taking an average place of sixth or seventh across all weight classes.

Some of the promising young lifters on the Eagle roster includes team captain Dalyn Harden, who is being recruited to lift collegiately, Darius Harden, a junior who is also making waves and rewriting his own personal records at 198 lbs, Junior Alex Vanvollenhoven, who currently holds the school record in the bench press, Dominic Johnson, and Jaden Epanty. 

Female lifters are welcomed and encouraged at Ruskin High School’s weight lifting program.

Female lifters are welcomed and encouraged as well, and a young group of freshmen have set the pace thus far. Alana Harris Hathaway recently shattered the school record for clean at her last meet by 25 lbs. Jordyn Tinsley has broken 3 personal records at every meet she has attended so far. 

Other up and coming freshmen Badali says to keep an eye on are: Teon Woods, Antwon Leaper, and Devone Rollins. 

Weightlifting and powerlifting are regarded as two of the safest sports currently available for student-athletes. The Ruskin program is conducted after school and it begins at 2:45 p.m. The program concludes at 4 p.m.. This season training takes place on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays. 

“For Ruskin High School to be a contender as a team, we must get student-athletes involved as early as possible. I look forward to the growth of the Ruskin High School Weightlifting Team.” Badali said.


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