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Terra Spencer, a bantamweight powerlifter from Elgin, Okla., prepares to lift more than 235 pounds in the dead lift during the 3rd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery powerlifting competition March 16 at Rinehart Fitness Center. Though the lift represented more than twice her body weight, Spencer completed it. However, it failed to exceed her personal best, which is 253 pounds.

FORT SILL, Okla. -- Displaying strength and camaraderie in another discipline, 3rd Battalion, 6th Air Defense Artillery hosted a powerlifting competition March 16 at Rinehart Fitness Center.

Soldiers and men and women from local communities competed in an event that featured squat, dead lift and bench press lifts.

Shaun Lott, who has lifted weights for about seven years and competed in a few powerlifting tourneys, led the effort to create the competition.

"This is a hobby of mine and something I enjoy; I thought it would be a good way to bring Fort Sill and Lawton together in a different venue of physical fitness," said the lieutenant colonel who commands 3-6th ADA. "We have a lot of experienced powerlifters here in Lawton who most people don't know about, they were instrumental in the execution of the meet today."

Ray Ortiz served as head judge keeping a close eye on competitors to ensure they did lifts correctly. Continuing to lift and compete for more than 30 years and [JUMP]armed with multiple national, international and World Cup championships, he is a well known and recognized powerlifting expert.

"I think this is a great event, and I'm glad they involved the Lawton community, too," said Ortiz, a police officer at Cameron University.

James Denofa, owner of CrossFit Havoc in Lawton, brought six lifters to the event to compete against the Fort Sill team. In addition to the flat bench Ortiz provided, Denofa brought a chalk bowl, rubber safety mats, barbells and the weights used throughout.

"It's really nice to have something like this on Fort Sill where people can showcase their hard work," he said. "A lot of them spend hours doing this so it's great to have this opportunity to show the public the heavy weights they can throw up."

During each discipline competitors did three lifts with the highest weight total factored into their overall score. Before each round, Competitors submitted their next lift total so others could not change their lift and gain an unfair advantage.

To help ensure the safety of each competitor, Ortiz and his burly judges stayed close to step in if needed. Also, three spotters stood, one on both ends of the barbell, the other behind the lifter. Should a problem arise, they would help secure the weight and protect the lifter from injury.

Midway through the competition, Lott experienced one of those moments during his second bench press. He said powerlifting requires attention to detail, good technique and form to do a successful lift. The loss of one of those key components can result in mishaps.

"I had a grip on the bar, and when I came up I got complacent -- my right thumb loosened up causing the bar to roll forward," he said.

That 315 pounds rolling forward was a force Lott couldn't stop. Fortunately, the bench Ortiz provided for the meet showed its value.

"The flat bench had safety bars on it and though the bar hit my chest, the safety bars took the brunt of the weight," said Lott.

With one more lift, Lott still could reach his goal.

"I forgot about the drop, psyched up for the next lift and successfully lifted 315 pounds to get first place in my weight class," he said.

Terra Spencer, a petite lifter from Elgin, Okla.; and Mirelle McGee, a 28-year-old veteran lifter who looked like he does bicep curls with full-size jukeboxes each drew a lot of attention. Spencer wowed the crowd when she deadlifted 240 pounds, an amount more than double her body weight.

"I didn't set any PRs [personal records], but I'm pretty happy with how I did," said Spencer whose top dead lift is 253 pounds. "It was my first powerlifting competition, and I really enjoyed the experience."

McGee regularly trains with Ortiz, his coach, and lives in Lawton. Though he didn't compete in the squat, he placed third in the cruiserweight division with 960 pounds. His total would have soared had he lifted what he called his typical 465-pound squat.

But then heavy lifting defines McGee and his background. He's lifted weights since age 15 and continues to work toward his goal to turn professional and make a living lifting weights. Even when not in the gym, he carried a big load. Working as a roofer, he once hauled 7,200 pounds of shingles in a half day.

"Can't is not in my vocabulary, and I'm driven to be better than the next man," he said. "You just got to stay in the gym-- I work one muscle a day for about two hours, eat right and only take one day off each week."

Lott expressed his appreciation for all who came out to watch or compete in the event. He said that interest is in part indicative of the number of people into powerlifting and overall physical fitness.

"I'm very proud of the people from Fort Sill, Lawton and the surrounding communities who came together and volunteered their time or competed," said Lott. "We made a lot of friends who want to continue to do these types of competitions on an annual basis; it will only get better from here."

Page last updated Thu March 21st, 2013 at 00:00