VISTA, Calif. -- Even after four months of strenuous training, nothing prepared them for the nervous anticipation that overwhelmed them.
Flashes of light illuminated the stage, cameras rolled and the audience cheered as the Marines were called to the stage at the Rancho Buena Vista Performing Arts Center to perform their lifts.
The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center’s Drug Demand Reduction Program Drug- and Alcohol-Free Powerlifting Team sponsored by Marine Corps Community Services brought home the second place team trophy from the Amateur Athletic Union National Powerlifting Competition held here June 18.
Retired Marine and powerlifting champion David Roman trains the team that is made up of five Combat Center Marines.
Roman, the Combat Center drug demand reduction coordinator, has powerlifted for more than two decades. Roman started powerlifting when he embarked on his journey with sobriety in 1981.
"We have been training hard since the moment the team was formed," said Roman. "It’s 90 minutes a day, five days a week in the West Gym, all-out training for powerlifting and powerlifting only."
A former Parris Island drill instructor, Roman’s training sessions are intense and demanding, and he expects 100-percent effort, no excuses. It’s motivating and the results are outstanding, he said.
"The last few weeks before the competition we increased weight a whole lot," said Wade A. Kisse, team captain. "It was no easy task but there was a lot of cheering, grunting and motivation to build up adrenaline."
Powerlifting includes dead lifts, bench presses and squats. The team practices repetitions of extreme weight for each event, not for recreation or to build shape, but for competitions and championships.
Roman said he formed the team in February of this year to encourage Marines to dedicate theifree time to weight training while abstaining from drinking alcohol.
"I talk to them at least twice a week about the importance of being sober," said Roman. "All alcohol does is flush out the vitamins, minerals, protein and other nutrients that are very important for a healthy body."
The team emphasizes being healthy by taking care of their bodies.
"There have been a lot of eyeballs on the team so it’s very important to maintain a good example by staying fit," he said.
He tells the Marines to stay away from fatty foods, not to indulge and to physically train with their appropriate battalion.
"The team definitely calls for integrity to stay drug- and alcohol-free and do what is necessary to stay fit and healthy," said Roman.
Roman said he is very impressed with the commitment and discipline the Marines displayed; it all paid off at the competition, added Roman.
The day of the competition came quick, said Roman.
"We were all nervous because it was our first competition; we didn’t know what to expect" said Kisse. "But, we were confident."
Each member of the team placed in his or her specific weight class. In addition, one Marine set a world record in his weight class. Phillip K. Smith, 19 dead lifted 551 pounds which surpassed the previous record for the 165-pound class by 10 pounds.
Bringing home 2nd place trophies for their weight class were Wade A. Kisse, 26, and Christopher M. Scherer, 23.
First place trophy winners were Diane M. Durden, 39 and Nicholas C. Rivera, 21.
"The event was so successful I had tears coming down my eyes when the Marines hopped up and ran to the stage to receive their trophy," said Roman. "The crowd was on their feet, cheering when the Marines were announced the second place winners. I was looking at grown Marines jump for joy when they were announced. The place was lit up."
"The team came a long way," said Kisse. "The team has some very outstanding individuals who showed massive improvement. I was also very excited that we qualified for [the 2005 A.A.U. World Bench, Deadlift and Push/Pull Championships]. All of our hard work paid off."
Roman said he has to thank the camaraderie and morale of the team for its success. Every Marine on the team connected well, he said, and they focused well on their goals. He also added that he sees the powerlifting team bringing home the first place trophy in December at the A.A.U. World Bench, Deadlift and Push/Pull Championships.