Powerlifting was never the first choice of sport for Bishop native Caitlin Berry, who began her career in athletics as a junior high football player.
“Since I had to be in boys athletics, I got used to lifting with the guys and everything,” Berry said. “My coach at school was like, ‘You know what? You’d be an amazing powerlifter,’ and that kind of boosted up my confidence and then I tried it my freshman year.”
Nearly four years later, Berry is now a USA Powerlifting National Champion.
Berry recently competed in the USAPL Raw National Championships in Chicago, Ill. and brought home an overall gold medal in the Teen II, 57-kilograms (125 pounds) weight division.
Berry said in order to earn her ticket to Chicago, she needed to qualify with a certain weight total at a local meet before receiving her invitation to compete at the national level.
Each meet consists of three different types of lifts: squat, bench press and deadlift, with three attempts per each lift.
Berry was able to eclipse the total weight needed and “jumped on the chance” to compete nationally, with the potential of making it to the USAPL World Championships in 2020.
“If I compete at nationals, and I get first, I could also qualify to go to worlds,” Berry said. “First automatically goes to worlds.”
Berry traveled to another state while unfamiliar with the territory, but said the experience motivated her to compete at her highest level among some of the best in the country.
She said seeing powerlifters who are known for their work on social media and other big names in the sport was a huge wake up call for her once she took to the performance floor.
“It is a totally different state with totally different people, so it was amazing to meet new people,” Berry said. “I did meet more powerlifters that influence other (lesser known) powerlifters, and meeting them and watching them compete really made me realize, ‘wow, I’m actually here,’ you know, I’m doing what they’re doing. I’m just a step closer. And whenever I was there to compete, when it was my turn, it was my time, but other people are watching me as well. You know at first you’re nervous, but I did get the hang of it.”
With her adrenaline pumping, Berry took the floor and lifted a total of 125 kilograms in her squat, 145 kilograms in the deadlift and 92.5 kilograms in the bench press for a combined total of 362.5 kilograms; the equivalent of nearly 900 pounds.
Her maximum bench press mark was also a national record in her division.
In only her first national meet, Berry automatically qualified for the USAPL World Championships.
Berry said she was ecstatic she was able to accomplish all she did at the national level and can’t wait for next year’s world competition.
Leading up to the next meet, the training regimen for Berry is going to be “intense.”
“I work out five days a week,” Berry said. “I bench five days a week, you know just to improve and to keep my form. I squat maybe twice a week and deadlift twice a week. But as it gets closer to the meet, that’s when my workout will get even more intense.”
Berry said her goal is to continue to thrive in the sport she loves, and she wants to be able to make powerlifting more recognizable to other girls in the area so they may also take part in what she loves.
“I feel a powerlifting is kind of an unnoticed sport,” Berry said. “I think it should be more out there. I think more people should join, especially females. When you do competitions like this, it’s more of the males that have a harder time qualifying and stuff because there are so many, so I believe more females should join as well. It gives me that confidence boost knowing that I’m a female but I can lift this much weight. There are other females (in the sport) and we’re all just competitive, but we’re all also there for each other to hype each other up. I’d love to see more of it.”