Lutheran West alumnus Cory Blackburn competes as a member of the Ashland University powerlifting club. (Photo courtesy of Ashland University)
By Stefanie Kilnapp
Westlake native Cory Blackburn, a graduate of Lutheran West High School, is a proud member of the Ashland University powerlifting club.
Powerlifting is a sport that is based around strengths in three major events: squat, bench press and dead lift. At meets, the contestants get three attempts at each lift, to achieve the highest combined total score of all three lifts.
“People often confuse it with bodybuilding and weight lifting, because they all involve working out. It is quite different, though,” Blackburn explained. “In bodybuilding, the main objective is to put on as much muscle as possible, have as little fat as possible and be symmetrical in all areas of your body. It is all about physique. Weight lifting is what you see on TV during the Olympics. It is getting the highest total in the clean and jerk and the snatch. It requires both speed and strength.”
Blackburn got interested in powerlifting seventh grade, when he wanted to improve his overall abilities in basketball at Lutheran West.
“Too skinny and slow,” is how he described his weakness, and lifting was the answer.
Blackburn added golf to his list of athletics and still made powerlifting a priority, but didn’t see any dramatic results. His answer came his junior year when he came down with severe knee tendonitis and had to sit out the whole season. He started putting a bigger emphasis on lifting, which led to weight gain and massive strength. It withheld the calories that were burned through other activities and made him noticeably larger.
“Needless to say, I had to completely redo my wardrobe,” Blackburn chuckled.
He went from 140 pounds to 200 pounds in the short time span of three months. The results made Blackburn very passionate about the sport of lifting. And then came powerlifting.
Blackburn might have had a love for powerlifting, but it didn’t necessarily mean that he was very knowledgeable about techniques and the sport in general. Little did he know joining the Ashland University team would change that, and his life.
When he found out his freshman year that Ashland University had a powerlifting team, he immediately wanted to get involved. Although the team was small, its members were quite accomplished and very close.
“Some of the older lifters who graduated now work at places like North Carolina State, and I still talk to them regularly,” he said. “They became some of my closest friends.”
With meets occurring one time each semester, the teammates helped each other make an impact on their own abilities, especially lifting every day. During the time Blackburn was practicing at Ashland, his squat went up 200 pounds, his bench went up 50 and dead lift went up 100.
Today he may not be finding the time to powerlift as much as he used to, but it made him who he is today.
“I truly believe it is a large reason I am where I am today,” he said. “It has taught me hard work, consistency and long-term planning over the years and I have already begun to use those in other areas of my life with success. Powerlifting hasn’t ever just been a hobby for me; it has been a way of life. Although I may go years without competing in the future, I know the lessons my body has learned from it will be in use every day.”