LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- Many athletes feel that a strong body makes for a strong mind. One high school-aged weightlifter believes that, as he tries to climb to the top of his sport.
The brass ring is within reach. All Evan Harak needs to do Is to snatch it for himself.
Roughly 18 months of focus is paying off for 18-year-old Harak. The Truman High School senior is preparing to pump iron for prestige, as he competes in the upcoming U.S.A. Weightlifting Junior Nationals on Saturday.
If his total lifts make the grade, Harak would be recognized as one of the top young weightlifters in the U.S.
"It's pretty crazy," Harak said. "I picked it up a year-and-a-half ago. I started doing it. The fact that I am where I am now. I'm really excited."
Barbell bloodlines run deep in Harak's family. His older brother, Ethan, is ranked in the top 10 nationally in his weight class. Evan's coach, Aaron Axmear, says sweat equity has brought Evan a long way.
"He has the ability to get himself mentally prepared every single time," Axmear said. "That's what it really takes. This is more of a mental sport than anything anyone can ever imagine."
"I'm snatching about 107 kilos," Harak said. "That's about 235 pounds. It's getting pretty close. There are still some pretty phenomenal lifters out there."
It takes dedication, too. Harak says he's in the gym at Crossfit Lee's Summit two-to-three hours per day, five days per week. He says he dreams of competing internationally and lifting for the United States team. Saturday's Junior Nationals could send him on his way.
"They take the top lifters in the nation at Junior Nationals," Harak said. "They take them to Junior Worlds. Honestly, just competing with the best junior lifters is just gonna be great."
This may not be his last lift, but he's strong enough to make it his best.
Harak isn't alone in going to this weekend's Junior Nationals in Oklahoma. Gardner-Edgerton High School's Nathan Damron is also planning to compete on junior weightlifting's biggest American stage.