Junior Matthew Magette performs a hang clean rep during practice two days before the meet in Royal Valley this Saturday.

For Matthew Magette, lifting hundreds of pounds in a high school gym on a Saturday is the price to pay to achieve the ultimate goal: becoming a champion.

The high school junior thinks nothing of hefting over 300 pounds while competing in powerlifting.

“It’s always been a hobby of mine to lift with my friends,” he said. “To be able to compete and be competitive in your own hobby is pretty special.”

This is the first year the high school has an organized powerlifting team under first-year strength and conditioning coach Scott Russell.

Eudora now has about a dozen students involved and joins roughly 50 percent of other schools in the state that have powerlifting teams that compete on a weekly basis.

This provides an outlet for student-athletes who don’t compete in traditional winter sports like basketball or wrestling. 


Junior Brennan Moeckel performs a warm-up rep on hang clean to get loose during practice Thursday.

Junior Brennan Moeckel, who participated in a morning weightlifting group at her old high school in Madison, Kansas, uses powerlifting as a platform to compete.

“I really loved the idea of being able to come in and workout with a team,” Moeckel said. “I want to gain strength in myself and build a bigger and better team and grow closer together, and all encourage each other to work hard.”

Powerlifting, an event not governed by the Kansas State High School Activities Association, consists of three lifts: squat, flat bench press and hang clean. Each lifter has three attempts at each station. 

Powerlifting meets vary in size for school participants and total lifters. Some larger meets will host around 50 schools and have over 800 lifters participating. 

There are four divisions: junior men’s and women’s for freshmen and sophomores, and men’s and women’s for juniors and seniors. Much like wrestling, each lifter is in a weight class based on body weight. 

Coaches and athletic directors across all classes in the state communicate with each other via email to coordinate Saturday meets from mid-January to early or late March. 

Magette and Moeckel advocated to Russell that they wanted an organized powerlifting team at the high school.


Coach Scott Russell looks on during a morning practice Thursday.

Russell previously worked as the middle school physical education teacher at Basehor-Linwood before coming to Eudora and saw the culture built there around weightlifting for fitness and competition. 

His No.1 goal after being hired was to establish a similar culture in Eudora.

“I’ve seen the culture of athletics at Basehor and how the kids responded to it and how the culture of athletics and training evolved out of it. I knew I wanted to start it. I just wasn’t sure when,” Russell said.

Demand from students in his strength and conditioning classes made it clear the need for a team was now.

“I’m the guy doing all the strength programming here. If the kids want it, then I better provide it,” he said.

Moeckel has competed in both meets so far this year and placed third in her class both times. She lifted a total of 550 pounds in the first meet of the year and 575 pounds in the second. Both times, she squatted nearly 300 pounds.

Magette finished second in his weight class and lifted 920 pounds total across all three lifts in Leavenworth. He also placed third out of 26 lifters in his weight class in the virtual meet put on by Wichita East earlier this month, lifting a total of 950 pounds. 

Moving forward, the goal is simple for Magette. 

“I want to be a state champion in something, and I think I got a good opportunity to do that in powerlifting,” he said.

Russell hopes this program continues to grow and the students get the most of what they’re looking for out of it.

“That’s the big part of it, the culture of training. Not necessarily the culture of powerlifting or the culture of the sport, but being invested in yourself and being invested in personal betterment,” Russell said.

Eudora’s next meet is Saturday at Royal Valley. 

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Reach reporter Dylan Funk at eudoratimes@gmail.com 

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