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Season Preview: 2023-24 Concordia Weightlifting

By Jacob Knabel on Sep. 14, 2023 in Men's Lifting Sports, Women's Lifting Sports

Head Coach: Freddie Myles (2nd season)
2023 National Qualifiers: Marry Berris, Evan Fukuhara, Rylee Kara, Kayleigh Maloney.
2024 National Championships: March 1-3 in Columbus, Ohio.


The inaugural season of Concordia University Lifting Sports is in the books. Head Coach Freddie Myles and the powerlifting and weightlifting programs now look forward to year two with an expanded and more experienced roster. For the weightlifting program in particular, two national qualifiers return for the 2023-24 campaign, which gets started with a competition at the four-week mark of the fall semester at Concordia.

Myles led the weightlifters into four competitions during the initial 2022-23 season. History was made last September when seven Bulldogs represented the program at the Kansas Open Championships in Olathe. Four Concordia athletes eventually wound up competing at the 2023 National University Championships in Columbus, Ohio, this past March.

Now that the programs are off the ground and running, Myles is focused on step-by-step improvement. Said Myles, “It’s smoother because our returners know what to expect. They’ve been through it for a year. They know how my programs work and they know how the style of my training works. They can help guide the freshmen on how to read the programs and on our etiquette in the gym and around the campus. We have athletes who can set the example with what we expect out of the program and with what I expect out of them.”

It's important to make clear that weightlifting and powerlifting are two distinctions within Concordia Lifting Sports. Weightlifting tests competitors in two movements: snatch and clean and jerk. Both lifts require athletes to raise the weight from the floor to above the head. As Myles explains, weightlifting is about “being as explosive as possible.” For the Bulldogs, they expect themselves to be more explosive than they were a year ago.

There are seven student-athletes who make up the weightlifting roster. The returners are sophomores Mary Berris (49kg), Evan Fukuhara (73kg) and Adrian Hernandez (110kg). The freshman class features Michael Davidge (89kg), Gracy Johnson (64kg), Cody Monsevais (87kg) and Katie Witte (81kg). Berris and Fukuhara experienced the 2023 national championships. Notably, Berris placed fourth nationally in the 49kg weight class while improving her total by 17.5 percent over the course of the season. Meanwhile, Fukuhara equaled a personal best in clean and jerk and placed fourth at 73kg.

A native of Sacramento, Calif., Fukuhara found his way to Concordia beginning with the spring semester of 2023. He saw the potential for the Bulldogs to become a special team with the foundation in place for the program.

Said Fukuhara, “I like to see a team get built from nothing to something exceptional. I know this team is going to be exceptional in the coming years, so I’m excited for that … We’re doing a lot of things way better. Last semester, we didn’t know what to expect. As we progress into this season, we have a better understanding of what to do and how to be a supportive member of the team.”

The achievements from last season lead Fukuhara to believe he’s only scratching the surface of his potential. He just began competitive lifting in 2019 and has already made himself into a national level athlete. He has big goals for himself. Added Fukuhara, “We have a big meet in December, which is the American Open Finals, a big national level meet. I’m hoping to perform well at that meet and hope to eventually represent Team USA.”

A native of Coon Rapids, Iowa, Johnson comes into the program as one of the freshmen hoping to lift up Concordia weightlifting. She previously played softball and volleyball before falling in love with competitive lifting. Johnson earned a silver medal in national competition in Las Vegas in 2022.

Says Johnson of the opportunity in front of her, “I knew it was a fresh program, and they just started it last year. I was excited to be part of the new wave of people coming in as it’s developing more and more. It’s a lot tougher than I thought it would be, but I’m happy with that. I’m adjusting to that and classes. I’m enjoying it so far. It’s been pretty smooth actually.”

Ideally, Myles would have liked to have had more prep time leading into the season’s first competition. The Bulldogs will be headed to the Heartland Strength Omaha Classic this Saturday. It will be an early barometer and one of two meets prior to the North American Open Finals in December.

“I’d rather have more of a lead up with both sports with a longer training period,” Myles said. “That’s how the schedule worked out this year. It is a tough meet. They’re just getting used to school and getting used to me and now we have a competition. I think they’re all in a good spot and ready for the first competition. Training has been going well. It’s good they get used to me warming them up for a meet.”

Athletes within the program have lauded Myles for his calming influence and for his expertise on how to build people up, both in terms of strength and power and from a character perspective. Myles’ staff also includes assistant Chevy Stout, who was officially promoted to a full-time position in April. Myles and Stout are constantly measuring individual improvement and pushing their athletes to new heights.

“I like to put the expectations on the kids at the individual level,” Myles said. “I want them to work as hard as they can and improve where they’re at. To me, that’s more important than if an athlete is already good and only moves up a little bit. I like to see kids put in the work and get a lot better. We measure that all the time in terms of percent improvement from meet to meet throughout the year. We’ve had really good success with kids improving a lot. I think that will show by the number of athletes who didn’t make nationals who will make it this year. That focus on improving yourself leads to with them placing higher and the team doing better as well.”

The 2023-24 Concordia Lifting Sports schedule can be found HERE.