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Members of Team Powerhouse are, left to right: Mark Swanner, Josh Miller, Cody Sapcut and Richard Sapcut.

With steroid scandals left and right in today’s world of sports, Richard Sapcut wanted to do something to prove to younger athletes that you can accomplish things drug-free.

That’s why he decided to form Team Powerhouse gym, a powerlifting team that has had tremendous success in the short time they’ve been together.

“NASA (Natural Athlete Strength Association) is steroid free,” Sapcut, a competitive powerlifter himself, said. “My intent was to show kids that you can do things, like powerlifting, without steroids. These lifts can be done clean. You don’t need all the doping.”

And according to the results, Sapcut is right.

They won the Kentucky powerlifting championship last month, and the team features four state record holders and one American record holder (Brad McClure, in the bench press for the 165 pound weight class). Also, J.T. Hull of Lexington, the world record holder in the bench, will be a member of the team for this weekend’s USA Nationals, to be held in Columbus, Ohio. And Sapcut, a member of the Laurel County Sheriff’s Department, holds several state records for the law enforcement division.

“I think this is a good thing to sponsor,” said Lane Young, owner of Powerhouse Gym. “It’s a different type of sport, and these are great kids. This is just one of several things we promote. It shows our diversity.”

The team features a mix of high school and college students, along with Sapcut, who not only competes, but is also the coach. North Laurel students Cody Sapcut and Josh Miller are on the team, along with South Laurel’s Andrew King, Kora Whitaker, a female from Hazard High School, Jordan Whitehead, who plays basketball at Berea College, Mark Swanner and Brad McClure.

“The community has really backed this team,” Sapcut said. “And these kids have a toughness about them. Powerlifting is mentally tough; you have to envision doing the lift, then go out and do it. Even though they are a team, the team isn’t helping them make the lifts.”

Sapcut said he looks to see Whitehead break the American record in the deadlift, which is 622 pounds for the 198 pound class. He noted that 14 year old King recently placed second in a strong man competition, and predicts that he’ll break all the state and American records before he’s done in the super heavyweight class.

“And Josh (Miller) is the most natural bench presser for a high school kid,” Sapcut said. “I look to see all of them go a long way.”

Sapcut’s son, Cody, competes in the 181 pound class, and said seeing his dad compete is what got him interested in powerlifting.

“I’ve been around it for so long,” Sapcut said. “I also play baseball and football at North Laurel, so this helps me with those sports.” He said he favors the squat, and plans on lifting for the rest of his life. His goals include winning his weight class at the nationals, then getting a chance to go to the World Cup in Las Vegas.

For Miller, he started lifting his freshman year at North Laurel, and took to the sport immediately.

“I’ve always been strong, and this is something I’m good at,” Miller said. “I really like the bench press (he holds the state record). I hope powerlifting will prepare me to play sports in college.”

Swanner is a newcomer to the sport. Five months ago he started powerlifting, and this weekend’s event will be his first. He admits he’s a little nervous.

“I’m really nervous,” Swanner said. “I don’t know what to expect at all. Hopefully, when my adrenaline starts pumping, it will help me with my lifts.” He said his goal is to place in his first meet, and by October, he hopes top break a record.

“We push each other,” Richard Sapcut said. “Jordan kills me on dead lifts, and I kill him on squats. We all feed off each other. These kids don’t know when to stop. We train five days a week.” Sapcut broke his back in 1998, and said these kids have re-energized him.

Sapcut also said he would love to see the team grow.

“My overall goal is to make this bigger,” Sapcut said. “I want to sanction my own powerlifting team in this area. Also, I want to help kids who might be a little less fortunate, keep them from falling through the cracks. We don’t turn anybody away. If you want to work out with us, you’re welcome to.”

Sapcut said he would like to thank Sheriff Fred Yaden, who has done so much to help this team, and to all the sponsors: Powerhouse Gym, Ink Town, Bill Meader Law Office, Stephanie McKeehan Law Office, Laz Teca, Elite Martial Arts, Storm Security, Lee Coal, Surf Pro, Poff Carting, Quizno’s, Lake Funeral Home, Kentucky Farm Bureau, Akeman Reality and Auction, Greyhawk Foodmart, Laurel County Sheriff’s Department, Gilliam and Payne Law Office and Baymont Inn of Columbus, Ohio.

Denis House can be reached at sports@sentinel-echo.com.

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