Setting the bar: Whitko senior holds National weight lifting record

SOUTH WHITLEY — Whitko’s Ian Pherigo is setting the bar high in the weight room for his fellow football teammates. Pherigo holds the National record in squats for his age and size at 352 pounds.The senior is a full back on the football team, and wrestled in his freshman and sophomore years.“I gave up wrestling last season for lifting,” Pherigo said.It was a choice that proved to be wise, as Pherigo set the National record in November, the middle of wrestling season. In just his second competition of his career, Pherigo took top honors and got an oppotunity to go to France for the World event.He placed first in the 16 to 17-year-old, 160 pound division, lifting 352 pounds in his second attempt.“The most I’ve ever squatted was 440 pounds,” Pherigo said. “But at the meet there’s three different judges watching you. Your technique has to be perfect. Your hip has to break the plane of your knee. The weight I normally put up at school is different than I get at competitions.”Pherigo said his first attempt (out of three) was at a weight he was comfortable with.“The first lift is the key one,” Pherigo said. “I started out at 330. I knew I could get it. You want to make sure you can do the first lift easily.”In his second lift, he went for the record, and got it by 12 pounds. “I got it up fairly easy,” Pherigo said.In the older age group, 18 to 19-year-olds, the winner lifted 380 in his final lift. Pherigo attempted the same weight, but couldn’t get it.“I got a little lower than I wanted to. I got halfway up, then fell back down,” Pherigo said.Though Pherigo had an opportunity at the World competition, he turned it down. “I thought about it a lot,” Pherigo said. “But I didn’t want to go. There’s always next year.”He said he’s been lifting weights with his dad for most of his life.“He was a big part of getting me where I am today. He helped push me.“When I was younger, I was in the weight room every day, Monday through Friday. And even sometimes on Sunday. But as I got older, my friends wanted to get together. In the past year I’ve started to live my life a little and not work out so much,” Pherigo said. “All the hard work from when I was younger is paying off.”Pherigo said most of the time he works out alone now, with the exception of his brother, father and Whitko‘s weight coach Dennis Stouder. Stouder is a World-Record holding lifter, and Pherigo said the coach got him involved in competitive lifting.“I’ve always been into lifting weights, but I never got into competitions until he came around,” Pherigo said. “He’s helped me out a lot. He found me my first competition.”Pherigo’s name first made it to the books in Evansville, Ind. in a National meet. He placed second by five pounds in the meet, which consisted of bench, squat and dead lift.The only person he lost to broke the National record to take first, and out-lifted Pherigo by five pounds. He said he has a weekly routine that he follows, working on certain parts of his body on certain days.“On Monday I do lower body (squats, power cleans), Tuesday I work on my chest (bench), Wednesday I either do biceps and triceps or shoulders and Thursday I do whatever I didn’t do Wednesday,” Pherigo said.The most he’s lifted in the bench press was 325 pounds, his best in deadlift is 455 and 440 in squats. He said his work in the weight room has helped him on the football field.“I’m not one of the fastest guys on the team, but lifting has been a confidence builder,” Pherigo said. “I say to myself, ‘OK, I’m bigger than this guy.’”He said when he first started playing football, in fifth grade, he weighed 75 pounds. The senior fullback now weighs a solid 190 pounds.