NMU’s Olympic training site takes a step forward – The North Wind

Northern Michigan University has hosted the United States Olympic training site for 13 years. Athletes in the weightlifting program have called Marquette home since the program began in 2003.

The United States Olympic Training Site at NMU is one of the few programs that offers Olympic hopefuls the opportunity to obtain an education while pursuing their dream of representing the United States competitively at the highest level.

When the weightlifting program at Northern started, only four men and four women were in the program and the need for growth was clear.

The program has produced a dozen lifters who have won individual championship titles, such as 2012 Olympian Sarah Robles, who placed seventh in the women’s 75+ kg division.

In the early years, even with the accomplishments of the program, Northern was outclassed by other weightlifting teams. It wasn’t until 2009 that Northern’s Olympic training site program began to show signs of becoming the top collegiate team in the nation.

In 2012, the program experienced several changes and challenges. Vance Newgard was officially named head coach of the program and had to rebuild the team after the loss of many lifters from previous years.

This weightlifting season, after 13 years of work by weightlifters and coaches, the NMU-OTS weightlifting team achieved its first-ever triple crown victory at the 2015 National University Championship, winning the men’s, women’s and mixed championship .

For some members of the national championship team, it’s a long-awaited win. Chris Santana, NMU National Junior and 69kg Champion, and Ryan Borges, Senior Member and World University Team Member and National University Champion at 62kg, led the team with individual victories at the National Championship.

“In the summer of 2014 I injured my right knee,” Santana said. “Instead of returning home, I decided to stay at Northern to recover from my injury with the help of OTS sports medicine. Winning my first ever national title was personally overwhelming and being part of the first triple national title championship Northern crown was just the icing on the cake.

Another weightlifting team veteran, Borges has seen the program evolve into the highly talented team it has become.

“Since I first frequented Northern Michigan, I’ve been training with lifters of a caliber so much above myself,” Borges said. “Being part of the Olympic training site program has given me the opportunity to win many national titles and represent the United States on the world stage.”

United States of America (USAW) Weightlifting now sees NMU becoming a hot spot for elite level lifters, even above the prestigious Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Newgard’s training and the ability to earn a college degree while focusing on athletic development are key reasons why Northern is now a preferred training site, said OTS weightlifter Ronnie Tucker.

The future of Northern’s Olympic training site is in the hands of freshmen like Mason Groehler and Ryan Sennett.

“I chose to come to NMU for a variety of reasons,” Sennett said. “I attach great importance to coaching, the environment, the school and my own career. I can honestly say that Vance Newgard is one of the best weightlifting coaches in the United States.

The taste of victory is still fresh in their mouths, and the whole team seems even more motivated to return to the competition scene and defend their National title.

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