Kenny Roche laughed when reminded of the commercial about weight lifters that simply “pick things up and put them down.” There’s a little bit more to being one of the best weight lifters in the state than just brute strength and the ability to lift something heavy.
“There’s more to it than that. You’ve got to have a strategy, and know what you’re doing. You could get hurt if you don’t,” Roche said.
Roche used those strategies to capture first place last weekend at the USA Powerlifting high school state championships in the 198-220 weight class.
Weightlifting is all about finding limits, and passing them, and that’s exactly what Roche did at Xaverian Brothers High School. “I knew the goals, and what I had to break. I broke all of my goals,” Roche said while taking a break from his training for the Mashpee High outdoor track and field team on Tuesday afternoon.
His goals were lofty, but he surpassed all of them. Entering the competition, Roche said he had his eyes on bench pressing 330 pounds, squat lifting 450 and deadifting 450 pounds. He finished with a bench of 340 pounds, a squat of 470 and a deadlift of 460.
The high school junior, who is also a standout on the Mashpee football team, was confident from the start and said he knew he was the man to beat in the competition.
“I felt good going in, I knew I was going to get the records right off the bat,” he said. “I wanted to break most of my personal records, and see what I could...it felt great doing them.”
Roche’s football coach, Matt Triveri, said that Roche has been a machine in the weight room from the start of his high school career and that he sets a template for others to follow that want to be successful. “He’s an example of what happens when you’re willing to work hard,” Triveri said. “And, it equates on the football field. He just dominates his position.”
Dominating at his position is even more impressive when considering that he’s hardly the typical kid that you’d expect to see playing left guard. The mental portrait of an offensive lineman is usually a big, monster of a man. Roche stands just 5-8 and weighs in at 214-pounds. He’s built like a fire hydrant, but the strength he’s acquired in the weight room allows him to push around people that are twice his size. “I give up a lot of weight,” he admitted. “I go up against kids that are bigger. Some of them have almost 200 pounds on me.”
“He’s a strong kid. He’s built up a base and he’s in the upper echelon of what he does,” Triveri said.
Roche said that he does not just work on improving his weight lifting skills. He focuses on all facets of strength, including flexibility and agility. “You have to be balanced,” he said.
Coach Mark Ballestracci is expecting big things from Roche in track and field this year. Though he sat out the season last year, he hopes to be amongst the top discus and shot put throwers in the South Shore League this spring, and if he dedicates himself to improving in those sports nearly as much as he has in the weight room, the sky is the limit.
As far as the weight lifting competitions, he does not have the future mapped out just yet. He said that he likes to take some time off, usually around a month, after each one to figure out where he’d like to go next. Sometime in the late spring he figures to be building up towards another run at a weight lifting title. In the meantime, he will continue to pile thousands of calories on his plate every day and pile up the plates in the weight room.