Friends compete together

Braden Schiller

Submitted photos

Above, Chris Dutcher, Kurtis Bell, Saul Larson, Justin Brockway, Chris Hintz, Adrian Quintana,  Alonzo Sandoval, Nick Brooks, Allen James and Don Botkin pose for a group photo after the Black Hills Classic 3 – Squat To Depth. Below, Chris Hintz deadlifts at the Black Hills Classic 3 – Squat 2 Depth.


Braden Schiller

NLJ Reporter


Barbells rise and fall, and more weight is lifted than most people think possible. On June 26 a group of 10 power lifters from Newcastle participated in the Black Hills Classic 3 … Squat 2 Depth.  

The participants from Newcastle were Alonzo Sandoval, Adrian Quintana, Chris Dutcher, Chris Hintz, Kurtis Bell, Allen James, Don Botkin, Nick Brooks, Saul Larsen and Justin Brockway. The group trains together at the Newcastle High School gym. Some of them know each other from working at the Newcastle refinery or beforehand. Others have met at the gym. 

“And so that was kind of how it was started — just guys that we kind of knew from the gym, part of our gym family, so to speak,” Botkin said.

Bell said that he and Sandoval, his coworker and friend, started lifting after Bell “tweaked” his lower back. The two eventually began to talk about power lifting. 

“We started a power lifting program and then just kind of rolled with it, and then about like six months into it, he (Sandoval) talks about a power lifting meet. He had done a few already. And, again, he talked me into doing it,” Bell said.

A common thread in the weight lifting group is that they lift to compete with themselves. Brooks started lifting to improve his health, which is how he met the other competitors from Newcastle. They told Brooks that he had the potential to be competitive in the weight lifting circuit. 

“I wish more people would go down there (to the gym), especially at a young age. One thing I tell my kids is that, in my opinion, exercise is one of the most powerful antidepressants known to man,” said Brooks. “People go to the gym to power lift and start feeling better and more confident.”

At the competition, members of the group did well in their respective weight and age classes. Botkin placed first overall in his age group, doing all three lifts (squatting, benching and dead lifting). Larson placed first in his age group, doing all three lifts. Bell placed first in his age group, doing all three lifts. James placed second in his age group, doing all three lifts. Brockway placed first in his age group, doing all three lifts.  Brooks placed first in his age group, doing all three lifts. Hintz placed first in his weight class for all three lifts. Dutcher placed first in his weight class, Quintana placed first in his weight class, and Sandoval placed third in his weight class.

“We’re a very open group and the more the merrier. If anybody would like to join in, we are more than happy to teach and show and mentor and train you,” said Dutcher. “I think that the other thing too is (that) people need to not be afraid of these guys that are just lifting big amounts of weights in the gym and getting hyped up. We’re friendly, good, reasonable, personable people, and I think it’s (power lifting) something that everybody should, if they’re not into, at least give it a try to see if it’s something that they like.”


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