Local weightlifter wins bronze in national competition

Will Heller (right)

Sylvania area resident, St. Francis de Sales graduate and Northern Michigan University student, Will Heller, is sporting three bronze medals he won at the USA National Powerlifting Championships in Las Vegas on June 30. His record in competition includes a 284-pound snatch and a 360-pound clean-and-jerk. The snatch is one fluid motion from floor to lock-out above the head. The clean-and-jerk; however, is done in two motions, the first from floor to front rack, over the shoulders and then to lock-out above the head.

Heller qualified for this championship when he and other Northern Michigan teammates competed in the Arnold Weightlifting Championships in Columbus last March.

Heller also qualified for the University America Games in Mexico in October. “I am very excited and honored to represent my country. I take great pride in America and competing for this nation is a dream come true,” Heller offered.

While on summer break, Heller is training approximately three to three-and-a-half hours with weightlifting coach Todd Baden at Glass City CrossFit for this global competition. He heads back to school Aug. 2.

These accomplishments are even more remarkable considering Heller has only been weightlifting for two years. It was June, 2020, before his senior year at St. Francis de Sales High School, that Heller first entered the weight room and began a powerlifting routine as part of football conditioning. At the time, little did he dream that this would become his sport of choice since he had been playing football since he was 8 years old.

Following his 2021 graduation, he was recruited to attend Northern Michigan University where he is on scholarship and a member of the competitive Olympic weightlifting team. He declined 13 offers to play football at Division Three and AI schools. Northern Michigan was the only college he considered because of its weight lifting reputation.

“I find deep enjoyment in weightlifting, even when I was doing this during football season. Then I still lifted four or five times a week. It was my favorite thing to do. I love getting under a bar, squatting, pressing, pulling. Anything I can do under a bar is fun to me, this is what I love doing,” Heller reported.

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