It can now be officially said that one could search the whole world over for the strongest girls 18 and under and between 138 and 185 pounds, and not even have to leave the central Kenai Peninsula to find them.
Both Robin Johnson, a junior at Soldotna High School, and Cipriana Castellano, a senior at Kenai Central High School, won their age categories Monday at the International Powerlifting Federation RAW Classics Powerlifting World Championships in Salo, Finland.
The championships continue a meteoric rise since both were discovered by Kenai Central physical education teacher Jeff Baker and started competing in powerlifting in 2014.
Both competed at Sub-Junior, meaning 18 and under. Raw means no aids were used for the lifts, like special suits.
Johnson competed in the 138- to 158-pound weight class and accumulated 865 pounds in the squat, bench press and deadlift to beat the 826 pounds of runner-up Borisova Alekandra of Russia. There were eight lifters in the age category.
Castellano competed in the age category for those 159 to 185 pounds. She took first with a total of 898 pounds. The runner-up in the weight class, which had five total lifters, was Torronen Susanna of Finland at 873 pounds.
Johnson squatted 341, bench pressed 176 and deadlifted 347 in rolling to her victory.
The squat was huge for her, and she beat the next competitor by 38.6 pounds.
She did not hit the international records in the weight class, including the squat, deadlift and total records held by Castellano.
“I couldn’t have done it without Brennan (Jackson) at Crossfit Kainos or Ross Leppala,” Johnson texted from Finland. “They’re amazing coaches. And not without the supportive town I come from. I’m beyond blessed.”
Rob Schmidt, Alaska State Chair for USA Powerlifting, pointed out that this was Johnson’s first international meet and only her second meet out of the state of Alaska.
“These ladies both have long, promising careers ahead of them should they so choose,” Schmidt wrote in an email.
Castellano was able to get the win despite having to work hard to make weight.
After she qualified for worlds in July 2014, Castellano made the personal decision to cut weight.
That hurt her in this competition, when she had to get up over the required 158 pounds. She weighed in at 159 pounds and was 11 pounds lighter than anybody else in the weight class.
“I was constantly reminding her to eat all last week,” Schmidt wrote.
She still went 336 in the squat, 181 on the bench press and 380 on the deadlift.
“No records were set but I think I did pretty good considering I was the smallest and managed to pull out a first-place spot,” Castellano texted from Finland.
Castellano will next compete at the North American Powerlifting Federation North American Regional Powerlifting Championships in Saskatchewan. Johnson is not scheduled to compete in that event.