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January 2, 2014

Should a 14-year-old try to deadlift 300 pounds?

(Continued)

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. —

"You want to make sure they are doing proper form and not lifting too heavy," said Schellenschlager, 42, a maintenance tech. "I know it's bad on the joints with him still growing. Some don't believe it is good to have kids weight lifting too early. But Jake never complains about pain or hurting, and he gets regular check-ups."

Jake's mother, Brandy Schellenschlager, 39, said initially she worried about Jake competing, but eventually began to feel that it was a good activity for a teenage boy.

"Lifting is a sport just like baseball," she said. "That's how we view it."

Jake started going to the gym with his father when he was 12, after his parents split up. Then one day, he met Sarni and began training in a more serious way.

His father encouraged Jake to pursue powerlifting: "You don't want your kid to be sitting on a couch and playing video games."

On a Saturday in York, Jake is scheduled to compete in three categories — squat, bench press and dead lift. He squats 225, breaking his personal record.

There are 11 adults ahead of Jake in the bench press competition. Finally, it's his turn. The bar is set at 205 pounds. Jake's trainer wraps and unwraps Jake's wrists and chalks his shoulders. Just before walking onstage, Jake glances at his father, sitting in the bleachers. His father nods in encouragement.

"My dad, because he is super strong," Jake says later, "when I see him it gives me motivation."

The announcer tells the crowd, "This kid weighs only 119."

Jake straddles the bench. He arches his back. His trainer lowers the bar into Jake's hands. He controls the weight, bringing the bar slowly to his chest. The weight hesitates. Seconds. The crowd encourages Jake with an echo of "Come on! You can do it!"

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