The yard was still as the competitors took their places by the weights during Lynbrook’s annual Strongman competition. Their faces were stoic, gazing intently at the barbells in front of them that they were about to lift. Around them, a crowd of about 200 looked on, mostly silent, as everyone waited for the clock to start.
The timer was started, and the yard erupted as the competitors lifted their weights, the crowd shouting words of encouragement at the strongmen. The participants’ faces contorted with effort as they power-lifted their barbells over their heads, each rep more difficult than the last. They continued in this manner until the timer hit zero, and they put down their weights to the applause of the audience.
Such was a common sight under the setting sun last Friday. For 17 years, the competition has been showcasing Lynbrook High’s strongest athletes as they work their way through the various events.
“I just thought it would be interesting,” said Mike Dieguez, a strength coach at Lynbrook of the event. “I was inspired by someone who trained me. I thought the kids would love this, and it’s turned out better than I ever thought it would.”
Over 20 participants, wearing matching black tank tops with their names emblazoned on the back, competed in four different divisions. The men were split into lightweight, middleweight, and heavyweight classes, while the women had their own group. Each competitor battled with those in his or her group in the hope of earning the division’s championship title.
“I was always into weightlifting,” said Gerard D’Agostino, last year’s heavyweight champion, before the competition began. “I started training and my strength went up, so I joined the competition and did really well last year.”
The contest began with events that involved barbells in a small courtyard, before shifting over to field events. The participants worked their way through events such as power-lifting and squats, getting as many as 90 seconds to tally as many reps as possible, depending on the event. The heaviest weights of the first portion were featured during the deadlifts, where competitors had to bend down and lift the barbell overhand to knee-level. The weights during this event were as heavy as 385 pounds.
Next was the farmer’s walk, where the participants had to carry a weighted bar in each hand back and forth across the field as fast as they could. The final event of the evening was the most grueling. The competitors had to perform 10 tire flips with tires in the neighborhood of 500 pounds, then run over and drag a weighted chain across the field to the finish line. The chain weighed as much as 440 pounds.
The competition was fierce throughout all of the events. In each contest, the strongmen vied to score higher than their opponents, each pushing his or her aching muscles to get one more rep in before time ran out. Throughout the evening the competitors stayed updated on the scores to see what their current standing was. Not all the participants could complete all of the events, but each gave maximum effort.
Yet while the contestants were each other’s opponents, they were, first and foremost, comrades. Each competitor had parents, siblings, friends, or other loved ones in attendance to watch them compete and encourage them, but their greatest and loudest cheerleaders were their fellow participants, many of whom encouraged their opponents from the sideline and showed support and sportsmanship.
In the end, D’Agostino repeated as heavyweight champion. Jonathan Cabral-Martin won the middleweight division, Tyler Heaney won the lightweight division, and Adorah Charles and Hope Germanakos tied for the women’s championship. While only they received official accolades, all the participants left the yard proudly, having put on a display of strength that impressed the crowd of people watching over the course of an intense two hours.