When people talk about Jackal's Gym, there are certain names that always come up.
A new name landed itself on that list earlier this year with a little force.
Marshall native Luke Klein made his mark in powerlifting circles earlier this spring with a commanding performance, including three American records and four Minnesota state records, in his first competition at the USAPL Minnesota State Powerlifting Championships.
Photo by Alex Oey
After an ankle injury derailed his college football career at Northern State, Marshall’s Luke Klein started working out at Jackal’s Gym, becoming a successful super heavyweight weightlifter in?Minnesota. At the USAPL Minnesota State Powerlifting Championships, Klein set three national records and four state records in the 18-19-year-old super heavyweight division.
"I've always wanted to start competing, but I knew I wanted to wait until I was at a higher level as opposed to starting at a younger age," Klein said. "I wanted to wait until I was stronger and so did (my coaches). Brad (Gillingham) knows when to start you and when not to."
The 2010 Marshall graduate has lifted on and off at Jackal's Gym since he was 14 and knew a few people, but Klein got serious about it when he gained some important freedom.
"I was 16 when I started going regularly because I had my license," Klein said.
As he continued to grow, so did his passion for weightlifting.
"Ever since I was a younger kid, I would watch World's Strongest Man on TV," Klein said. "The thought of being able to lift heavy weights competitively sparked my interest."
Klein, who played football in high school and spent a year on the Northern State University squad, almost saw any chance of competitive sports go away with one common occurrence on the field.
"It was during spring football at Northern. I got rolled up on and I broke my ankle in two spots and every single one of the support ligaments was torn," Klein said. "They told me it was a sprained ankle, to tape it up and everything would be OK."
Klein continued to play spring football on his injured ankle and had moved home before seeing a doctor.
"When I got home for the summer I was wearing boots because my ankle was too big to fit in tennis shoes. When I couldn't even put a boot on anymore, my mom told me to go to the doctor," Klein said. "I had to have complete ankle reconstruction. They had to remove part of a bone and put screws in my leg."
For many people, that would have been the end of competition. But for Klein, he couldn't wait to get back in the gym.
"At that point I still lived with my parents. They live about eight miles out of town, and with the injury I had I couldn't drive, so I was waiting at home, anxious, until the doctor gave me a traveling boot," Klein said. "I requested that early so I could drive into town and at least do bench press and stuff like that."
After getting back in the gym, the decision to start competing just happened.
"My buddy Jordan Krogman asked if I was going to do it and I said sure," Klein said. "It wasn't really planned.
"I thought a lot about not getting hurt. I was real nervous about everything. Thinking basically, 'Don't mess up.'"
Going into the final weeks before the meet, the focus on training took a turn from only building up weight to getting ready to follow commands from the judges.
"You really practice that about two weeks before (the competition), when you try to get your mind set into listening to the commands," Klein said.
With the lifting cycles complete and practice following commands done, Klein and the rest of the Jackal's Gym contingent made the trip to Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato on Feb. 11, for the State Powerlifting Championships.
In powerlifting competition, each lifter gets three chances at the weights they choose. A perfect day is going nine-for-nine, hitting each of your weights.
Klein went eight-for-nine, but he made each of those lifts count, setting three American and four state records in the super heavyweight junior raw category.
When he started in the squat, his first lift was an American record, and he finished at 600 pounds. On the bench press, he set a Minnesota state record with 380 pounds, and he finished off with a 622-pound deadlift for a a total of 1,603 pounds - both American records.
"They were all personal records because it was my first meet," Klein said. "The squat was for sure because I had never squatted anything like that before."
With one competition under his belt, Klein has his eyes set on the next level, the USAPL 2012 Raw Nationals in Killeen, Texas.
"(The state meet) was basically a practice of how well I listened to the judges and things like that. Get my mind right," Klein said. "Now I have a couple more eight-week training sessions and then I'll be traveling down to Texas for the national championships. I guess I'll just go from there."