Valentine: Nationally ranked powerlifter while still in high school

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Just two years ago senior Joe Valentine started his powerlifting training to try something new, later to be nationally ranked among 133 others.
“I thought it just looked cool and I wanted to try it out,” Valentine said. “I started training about two years ago but my first powerlifting meet was in March of last year.”
As stated by the USA Powerlifting Association (USAPL), powerlifting is very distinct from weightlifting, a sport made up of two lifts: the Snatch and the Clean-and-Jerk, where the weight is lifted above the head, while powerlifting comprises three lifts: the Squat, Bench Press and Deadlift.
Valentine is currently nationally ranked fourteenth out of 133 in his teen division two, consisting of ages 16-17 and the weight class of 162 pounds. While also ranking 80th in the open division. Both of these divisions are a part of the USAPL.
“I’m not nearly ranked as high in the open division because it is grown men,” Valentine said. “I am ranked 80 out of thousands of people which is still pretty good.”
According to USAPL, the open division is for anyone the age of fourteen and older. Teens are separated into three different divisions of ages 14-15, 16-17, and 18-19 then later moving onto the junior (20-24) and master (24+) which is broken up into eight subcategories.
Getting to the milestone of such a ranking was a timely process for Valentine, but he did receive some help along the way. At one of his three gym choices he met his current coach Dominic Becraft who took one look at him and saw the amount of potential he held.
“I had seen Joe lifting around the gym that I work at in Riverview [3D Fitness]. I could tell he had all the right attributes that make a great athlete in this sport,” Becraft said.
After spotting Valentine at 3D fitness, Becraft knew he wanted to act on the potential he saw in him.
“I spotted for him at his first meet, which he had bombed out on due to not getting a squat to count toward his total,” Becraft said. “Once I witnessed that, I immediately approached him the next time I saw him to ask if he had a coach.”
Valentine switches between three different gyms. For him he stated, it is just a feeling of whichever one he wants. Another one of his choices being F3 in Dearborn.
“I like the people there way better, and they have these special plates which are calibrated in kilograms instead of pounds,” Valentine said. “And I picked Victory Gym because I already volunteer there and just work the desk since it is a non-profit gym.”
Not only does Valentine compete in powerlifting, he is also involved in sports at RHS such as wrestling and football. Both can be very time consuming making it hard to balance school with sports.
“I wake up at 4am every morning, and I am constantly tired so it is pretty hard to gauge my fatigue and sometimes it gets hard to do my school work,” Valentine said.
Time isn’t the only factor, diet planning is also a task for Valentine, while also incorporating “cheat meals” which for him is as simple as getting sushi with his girlfriend.
“I try to limit my cheat meals to just one a week. Sometimes it doesn’t happen. But I try to get at least 130 grams of protein every day,” Valentine said. “And then I’ll adjust my amount of carbs based on how much I did that particular day.”
With all the hard work that goes into living his lifestyle, it can sometimes be difficult to not burn himself out and become overworked.
“Coaching Joe has been a treat, it’s just the right balance of keeping him in the pocket and making sure he doesn’t break himself down to a point that he can’t progress anymore,” Becraft said.
Over time Valentine has broken many of his own records, some even being state records. In April of 2021 he set a state record of 188kg (415 lbs) deadlift at a USAPL meet.
“My current pile up total is 1220 lbs which is a combination of your bench, squat and deadlift,” Valentine said.
Breaking up each lift individually he can bench 314 lbs, squat 410 lbs, and deadlift 495 lbs. Valentine has broken his squat record twice training by himself and with help from Becraft.
Even with much success everyone reaches a bump in the road, for Valentine it was getting stuck at a weight, which he overcame just by continuing to train and work hard.
“I just thought I had a good base being that I am naturally strong, and I’ve just been lucky enough to have good guidance and not have many plateaus,” Valentine said. “Although I was stuck at a 280 pound bench for like a year and a half and that was frustrating.”
Valentine mentioned he likes to compete in at least three meets a year, in 2021 he competed at USAPL’s Full Send Invitational and Assault on Gravity with his most recent being the Michigan State Championship. This year, on the contrary, he will only be attending the National meet in March.
“I can’t wait to see what we can do at our next meet which will be the high school nationals, his biggest stage yet,” Becraft said.