Sacred Heart has often been represented in Jackson at the MHSAA State Powerlifting Championships. On an individual level, current Crusaders Grady Leek and Gavin Bradford have made it there and brought home state titles in years past. 

But as a team, Sacred Heart hasn’t had the numbers to make it that far. Until this year that is… 

Back in March, the Crusaders put it all together and captured the Class 1A South State Championship, punching their ticket to the state championships. 

“Those guys have really put the time into it and done what they’ve had to do to be successful,” Sacred Heart head coach Lonny Schraeder said. “Powerlifting, it’s a progressive thing. Every week you build on what you’ve done the week before. So if you miss, there’s no building. You go backwards if you don’t do what you’ve got to do every week.”

Leek, Bradford, Chris Harris, Joey French, Ethan Mooney, Garrett Crowder, Tanner Blakeney and Ben Dunn make up Sacred Heart’s team, along with assistant coach Barton Bradford. In December, once football season had come and gone, that group got to work. Then and of course now, Schraeder knew the potential to make a run was there. Again though, it was a numbers game. 

“I thought we had a chance. But we got up against some of those teams that had 12 guys on their team,” Schraeder explained. “I didn’t know if we had enough people to get enough points. But when we got to south state, all those other teams kind of balanced each other out. And we won enough first and seconds to win it.”

It’s a unique group of lifters to say the least. There’s Leek, Bradford and Mooney, who have all medaled on the biggest stage. Also, there’s some, like Dunn, who have burst onto the scene this season for the Crusaders. According to Schraeder, Dunn weighs less than 132 pounds and squats three times his body weight. 

“He [Dunn] is like a little ant. He doesn’t get real excited. He just gets in there, goes about his business and does his thing. He’s amazing.”

Now, Dunn and the Crusaders are preparing for one last round, the Class 1A State Championships which will be held April 21 at the Jackson Coliseum. 

“Next week we won’t lift. It will be rest,” Schraeder said. “We hit every one of the lifts that we needed to hit this week. I feel like we’re in great position to do really well at state.

“We’re going to try and win. We’re too close now. I told the kids, ‘Don’t think that you have to do anything spectacular. Just go make your lifts and we should be ok’.”