South Dakota State Powerlifting Meet This Saturday

The most powerful people in the state will be putting their strength to the test this weekend during the State Powerlifting Meet. If you think the event at the Sioux Falls Convention Center is exclusive to guys, you'd be wrong. 

When you think about powerlifting, this 55-year-old female physician from Sioux Falls may not be the first image to comes to mind. Elizabeth Richardson watched her first meet a few years ago and has been hooked ever since.

"And I thought, that's it, I'm going to do this. And there weren't a lot of women doing it at that time," Richardson said. 

Richardson has been lifting since 2013 and shares her passion for the sport with her patients. 

"But for women, I think keeping the back really strong and upright is the way to protect your spine and your bones. I try to push it but I think women are generally afraid of upper body strength training," Richardson said. 

Not Morgan Hughes. The 17-year-old student at Lincoln High School trains in the weight room to be better on the field. 

"I throw for Lincoln. I throw shot put and discus. I initially started so I could get stronger for that so I could hopefully qualify for the state meet again," Hughes said. 

Both Richardson and Hughes will be competing in Saturday's event. Meet director Jona Leo says 110 powerlifters have signed up.  

"Actually the biggest growth has been in females in the sport," Leo said. 

Leo says the meet will feature athletes of all backgrounds -- from amateurs getting on stage for the first time to more serious contenders for the state title.  

"So you're going to see both ends of the spectrum. The beauty of it is it's a very supportive sport. You're going to see people, they're cheering on their competitors," Leo said. 

And the top competitors hope to qualify for nationals. 

Saturday's state meet gets underway at 9 a.m. Tickets are $7 per person. Children 12 and under are free. Sioux Falls will be on the national stage for powerlifting next year. The city is set to host the USA Powerlifting Bench Press Nationals in August of 2019. This year, Richardson will be traveling to to Finland to compete for team USA in the IPF World Classic Bench Championships in the Masters Division.

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