Kearney High School lifters power their way to third consecutive national title

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KEARNEY, Mo. -- At one metro high school, there's no heavier topic of conversation.

The boys powerlifting team from Kearney High School earns another honor. The Bulldogs just won another national championship, making them the best in the nation. It’s the school’s third consecutive national title in powerlifting.

What looks like feats of strength is just routine in this gym of gems. The product of perspiration sits in the form of national championship trophies, which are kept only a few feet from the school’s weight room. The latest of Kearney's national crowns arose just days ago, on April 2nd, when Bulldog lifters claimed their third straight title at the N.A.S.A high school meet in Oklahoma City.

Kearney Coach Greg Jones beams with pride, as two of his national champs powered their way to national lift records in their age group.

“We're just providing kids the opportunity to get better. That's the key. We have a great group of kids that work extremely hard. It's been fun,” Jones told FOX 4 News.

Kearney kids are no strangers to powerlifting punch. Jones says his lifters don't back down when the spotlight shines. Proof is seen in video clips from the national meet, which show Bulldog strongmen performing like superstars with their coaches shouting their encouragement.

“When we have a meet, we have 15 platforms going. Down there, they have two, so the kid who is lifting is really the center of attention,” Jones said.

“It's a great feeling, being able to say that you broke a national record and you're a three-time national champion,” Daniel Piburn, Kearney sophomore, said.

Jones started Kearney's powerlifting team 10 years ago as an off-chute to the bulldog football team. He says the championships have been awesome, but the real payoff comes when athletes turn potential into performance.

“It's great when you take a kid who doesn't see what he can be, but you see it. Therefore, you keep pushing that kid,” Jones said.

“Anyone can do it. It all depends if you're willing to put in the hard work. If you're willing to sweat it out,” Louis Etuale, Kearney senior, said.

Kearney isn't the only metro school that's lifting large. The powerlifting team from Belton High School also went to the national meet, after qualifying four lifters for the state tournament earlier this year.