Monona Grove High School senior Garrett Hanson earned a spot on the All-Badger South Conference second team for defense in 2019 after 38 total tackles, six for loss of yardage, and 2.5 sacks. Much of his success could be attributed to powerlifting, which he took up as a sophomore.
Hanson said the sport helped him perform better on the football field.
“Football is all about explosion. It’s all about putting the amount of force you need into another person,” said Hanson.
While Monona Grove does not offer powerlifting as a competitive sport, Hanson learned about its benefits through his football coaches.
Serving as a one-man team, Hanson did well enough at the regional round in Waterford to compete at the state tournament in Appleton where he recorded the second-best bench press in the 198-pound weight class. Like many beginners, Hanson started lifting lighter weights and gradually worked his way up.
“In the beginning, I was bench pressing 100-115 pounds. Now, I can bench 350 pounds a couple years later,” Hanson said.
He has lifted 425 pounds in both the squat and dead lift, both personal bests. His father, Dave Hanson, said his son is also capable of bench pressing 225 pounds – the weight used to test NFL combine athletes – 20 times.
The younger Hanson said the key to successful heavy lifting is properly preparing yourself physically and mentally.
While the amount of weight he is capable of lifting has been rising, Hanson learned a lesson in the technical aspects of the sport at the state tournament last month.
Lifters are judged on their technique and not just the amount of weight. For example, does your body fall forward on the lift, do you lift your heels when squatting and do you lock your elbows when bench pressing?
“There are three judges, one in front of you, one behind you and one beside you,” Hanson said. “(They look for) anything that can cause harm to you or the spotters. It’s super technical.”
Overall, Hanson calls powerlifting an underrated sport, and he would like to see more high schools offer it.
“I wish Monona Grove would offer something like that,” Hanson said. “It tremendously helps you in any sport, and it’s a great thing to get into because you can continue it for much of your life. There are a bunch of competitions where you can compete until you are 50 or 60 years old. It’s a great sport to keep up with.”