SIOUX FALLS - An 18-year-old O’Gorman High School woman is the South Dakota State Women’s Powerlifting Champion. Klarissa Kobernusz earned the title at the state meet in Madison.

“I never thought of lifting as a competition. I still can’t believe it. I can’t believe I can lift that much. Every time I look at the record board, I think that it’s awesome,” said Kobernusz.

Kobernusz broke the school record with 325 pounds in the deadlift. She then broke her own record at the state championships with a 335 pound deadlift.  She squats 300 pounds and can bench 125 pounds.

This little girl didn’t start out life this powerful,  Kobernusz was born 11 weeks premature weighing in at 2# 6 oz. at birth.  But lifting weights just felt right to her.

“It was really intimidating at first but I thought why not? I wanted to learn how to lift weights.”

Kobernusz played soccer and ran track but found great success in the weight room.   “It’s very intimidating at first to walk into the weight room and see these strong people that know what they’re doing. “ And it wasn’t easy walking into a sport that is dominated by men.

“I haven’t found a guy yet that said ‘you shouldn’t be in powerlifting, you’re a girl.’ They are very supportive and the guys are amazed that I can lift that much.”  Her coaches also awarded her with the Outstanding Female Lifter Title.

Kobernusz encourages anyone to pursue what they’re interested in and keep at it. “They can find hidden strength that they didn’t know they had.”

Her next competition is the high school USA Powerlifting Nationals in Colorado next month.  Next fall she plans to attend the University of South Dakota eventually becoming a physical therapist.