After her performance at the Arnold USA Powerlifting Championships on Friday in Columbus, Ohio, people were telling Kenai Central junior that she is the strongest girl under 19 years of age in the world.
“Everybody was trying to give me that label, but I don’t feel any different,” Castellano said Saturday via cellphone from Ohio.
This was the first chance for Castellano to set international records since her meteoric rise began with a powerlifting competition in February 2014.
She came through with International Powerlifting Federation records in the squat, deadlift and three-lift total for women under 19 years of age and under 158 pounds. As is standard procedure, the records will not become official until the results of Castellano’s drug test come up clean.
Castellano had been competing at under 185 pounds, but this was the first competition she dropped to 158 pounds.
She had some worry about how that would affect her strength going into the meet, but for the most part those worries proved unfounded.
The meet started with the squat, where Castellano hit the world standard of 330 pounds on her second lift. All the records at Castellano’s weight class are world standards because nobody has been able to hit them yet.
Castellano then hit 347 pounds on her third squat. Her best is 369 at the heavier weight class.
She had some concern about how the weight loss would affect her squat, but she said after her second lift that she knew the third lift wouldn’t be a problem.
Next came the bench press. Castellano hit 176 and 187, but really had to grind out that weight. She dropped her third attempt below the world standard of 198 and still missed.
Castellano had repped 198 twice in the weeks leading up to the competition, and also has benched 204 in competition. She said the judge made her hold the bar above her body after unracking the bar for five to eight seconds, then had her pause for a significant amount of time at the bottom of the lift, also.
Both pauses sap strength that Castellano is not used to losing.
“It’s not a big deal,” she said. “I’ll just have to start training for the lift that way.”
In the deadlift, Castellano opened with 347, hit the world standard of 363 and then kept on cruising to 385. Castellano has done 419 in competition.
She said her coach, Rob Schmidt, wanted to take the weight down a bit on the third lift, but she assured him there was no need.
“I felt pretty good after the second lift,” she said. “I knew going into the third that there was no way I wasn’t going to get that.”
Castellano’s three-lift total of 919 pounds also lapped the international standard of 871 pounds, giving her another record.
Up next for Castellano is the International Powerlifting Association Raw Classics Championships in Finland in June. Because she qualified for the meet competing at under 185 pounds, she will have to compete at that weight in Finland.
But she said she doesn’t plan to gain a lot of weight back and plans on being the lightest competitor in her weight class.
“I’m not taking any weeks off,” she said. “I’m going to go right back to hitting the gym again.”
Soldotna High School sophomore Robin Johnson also is qualified for the international meet. Castellano said Johnson didn’t need to see her succeed on the international stage to gain confidence.
“I can talk to her about it, but I don’t think she’ll have any problems going into it,” Castellano said. “She puts in all the hard work, so I think she’s got it.”