Cipriana Castellano, a senior at Kenai Central High School, has gone where few, if any, 18-and-under powerlifters have ever gone before.
After setting three world records Wednesday at the North American Powerlifting Federation North American Regional Powerlifting Championships in Saskatchewan, Canada, Castellano has now set six world records and won one world championship in three weight classes in just over four months.
“February of 2014 when I did my very first powerlifting meet, I certainly never saw myself being in this position with even a fraction of the achievements I now have,” Castellano wrote in a text message from Canada. “But I’m so grateful I am here and I hope now that my subjunior time is over that I set a good example for other youngins coming up in the sport.”
Subjunior is the age category for all who turn 18 in 2015. Castellano will turn 18 in November, so this will be her last international meet as a subjunior.
But Rob Schmidt, the Alaska state chairperson in USA Powerlifting, said Castellano is one of the best subjunior powerlifters ever of any gender, weight class or nationality.
Schmidt said he asked Larry Maile, the president of USA Powerlifting, if he can recall anything like the performance Castellano put on across three weight classes in the last four months. Maile, with 40 years in the sport, said he can’t recall anything similar.
“That is to say, she is either the most successful teen in the history of powerlifting, or she is at least one of the very best. Ever,” Schmidt wrote in an email.
It almost didn’t happen, as Castellano had to scramble to make weight Wednesday.
She had just competed at the under-185 weight class at the International Powerlifting Association RAW Classics Championships in Finland on June 8, although she weighed in at just 158 pounds.
Castellano didn’t set any records at that meet, but she still was able to claim the world championship in her age category.
Still, that left her a month to get under 138 pounds for the Wednesday competition.
The last 6 pounds proved stubborn, and Castellano wrote that 24 hours of hot baths, no water, no food and a trip to a steam room let her make weight. She texted it was the worst thing she’s ever done, but credited Maile, by coincidence a Kenai Central grad himself, with getting her through it. Maile currently lives in Anchorage.
“But it was worth it,” she texted. “And I’m so glad I did this. As my last year as a sub junior I think I really made a mark in all three weight classes internationally.”
Once weight was made, the lifting went smoothly. Castellano’s world records came in the squat (319 pounds), deadlift (342 pounds) and three-lift total (826 pounds). That three-lift total also includes the bench press.
“For squat I went above and beyond my personal expectations and I think that set me up for a good start,” Castellano texted.
Her tour de force had started March 6 at the Arnold USA Powerlifting Championships in Columbus, Ohio. There, competing at under-158 pounds, Castellano set world records in the squat (347 pounds), deadlift (385 pounds) and three-lift total (919 pounds).
Both Castellano and Schmidt have not decided which weight class Castellano will compete in going forward, but it will be either under 158 or under 138.
Castellano’s next meet is the Alaska State Fair Powerlifting Challenge on Aug. 27 in Palmer. International records can’t be set at the meet.
At Castellano’s next international meet, she will be competing against lifters as old as 23.
“But I am quite sure that, should she continue to apply her tremendous work ethic and natural talent, she will dominate the junior division just as she did the sub juniors,” Schmidt wrote.