Garrett Allen, who will be a freshman at Hampden Academy in the fall, has been named the Maine Games/New Balance Youth Athlete of the Year.
The 14-year-old powerlifter claimed the honor in this, the first year the Maine Games has distributed a separate youth award for its Athletes of the Year recognition.
Maine Games Executive Director Jeff Scully said he started the award this year in hopes youngsters who participate in the games will earn more recognition.
“In the past, it seems as though the youths really didn’t have a shot at winning the national Athlete of the Year awards,” he said. “This year, we’re just awarding one to see how it works.”
Scully said next year he may add a female award.
Allen, who also plays soccer, participated in the state powerlifting championships in Brewer in March, and captured gold-medal honors in the ages 14-15 group and 165-pound weight class by squatting 242 pounds, bench pressing 110 and deadlifting 281 for a total of 633.
That effort qualifies him for the State Games of America, set for next year in San Diego.
The Maine Games State Powerlifting Championships have always been a “clean” meet, and random drug testing has been performed each year to help assure every athlete is competing without the use of performance-enhancing substances.
Allen, who along with his father Telford and younger brother Ashton, train with Maine Games powerlifting event commissioner and fitness instructor Louie Morrison at Union Street Athletics, is ranked seventh in the nation in his age/weight class.
“My dad got into it and I went to a couple meets and watched him. It looked really cool, [so] I asked if I could try it and he said yes,” said Allen.
If winning the Maine Games award is the cake for Allen, then winning the National Congress of State Games Youth Athlete of the Year award would surely be the icing.
“We’re nominating Garrett for the national award this year because it’s the first time the National Congress of State Games has offered a separate youth award,” Scully said. “We’ll see how he stacks up nationally against some of the other 30-plus State Games organizations coast to coast.”
Allen, who has played on as many as three soccer teams, said his schedule is fairly flexible when it comes to weight training.
“I do weightlifting in the morning, where most sports are in the afternoon or after school and Louie is kind of flexible,” he said.
Allen only trains once a week with Morrison, but said once he obtains a driver’s license in a couple of years, he’ll start going a couple more times a week.
Of the three lifts he did in the Maine Games event, the deadlift is arguably the most complex. It involves tipping from the hip, keeping the arms straight and the knees slightly bent and preventing the hips from locking.
“The deadlift is kind of one of the harder ones, and you do it last,” Allen said.
At the Maine Games, he did squats first, followed by the bench press and the deadlift.
“You’ve got to keep your back straight when you do it, if you lean forward over the weight then you’re using mostly your abdominal area,” Allen said.
Allen is hoping to make the junior varsity soccer squad at Hampden this fall, and he said his favorite exercise is squats.
“For me, it’s the easiest, but a lot of people won’t say that,” Allen said.
Training for weightlifting competitions is quite the contrast from soccer practices.
“It’s a lot different, you kind of train on your own and when you compete you’re all by yourself, so it’s kind of more self-confidence,” Allen said.