Dickinson to host USPA powerlifting competition March 26, 27

The Pit Strength & Fitness will host the United States Powerlifting Association's King of the North competitions on the weekend of March 26 and 27 at the West River Ice Center.

Dickinson Powerlifting Competition
Damien Pezzuti successfully bench- presses 402 pounds during the United States Powerlifting Association's North Dakota Open held at the National Guard Armory in Dickinson on Oct. 6, 2018.
James B. Miller, Jr. / The Dickinson Press.

DICKINSON — The Pit Strength & Fitness of Dickinson will host this year’s King of the North powerlifting competition in conjunction with the United States Powerlifting Association on March 26 and 27. Doors open at 7 a.m., the events kick off at 9 a.m. and will last until about 4 p.m. General admission is $15, $5 for children aged 5-12, while children 4 and under get in free.

The Pit owners William and Jessica Neel said the event had such a big turnout last year when they held it at the Dickinson National Guard Armory that they needed a larger venue, adding that they appreciate the community’s support. Jessica thanked the Dickinson Visitors’ Bureau for what they’ve done to help out.

Strong community

“We had a lot of local people show up so that was awesome. We’re not charging vendors to show up at this. We want it to be a fun local event that we can do, hopefully every year,” she said. “It’s going to be a family friendly event with bounce houses and a bunch of things like that."

This year’s events will be held at the West River Ice Center, expanded to two days instead of one with 45 competitors on March 26 and 60 on the 27th. Phat Fish Brewery will be catering lunch at 11:30 a.m. each day. Some of The Pit’s gym members have set national and even world UPSA records. They include Cody Chapel, Austin Hutzinbiler and McKenzie Haven.

“We’re moving all of our equipment over there on Thursday of next week. They’re taking the ice off Monday, melting it all off,” she said.


Competitors are divided into categories by age, weight and gender. The second day they will be subject to drug tests, while the first day will be untested. She explained the rules for tested athletes.

“They can't take certain pre-workouts, or like diuretics for your health, you can't take those either because that could be an aid for women,” she said. “It’s kind of strict on some of the stuff, so it’s not just steroids.”

Salty lifts

William noted that testosterone boosters, and even mydol are not allowed. Yet there is one performance enhancing substance that is allowed and very popular, smelling salts. They come in many different scent varieties including Irish whiskey, Irish car bombs, mint and lemon.

“It’s supposed to be strong enough to where it hurts. Part of why it works is that your brain focuses on the pain from the smelling salts as opposed to like, how freaking heavy this weight is that you’re trying to lift and how much your body hurts,” he said. “You’ll see guys squat 750 pounds. When they’re done they’ve got blood pouring out of their nose. Before deadlifts I’ve seen guys take shots of whiskey, hit themselves in the face, guys that pass out, blackout and just fall over.”

Lift and learn with the pros

Professional powerlifters John Haack and Andy Huang will be teaching a seminar March 26 from 5 to 9 p.m. Admission is $140 but discounts will be given to those who mention USPA North Dakota upon purchase.

For many in this remote corner of the world, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to glean the wisdom of such prestigious weightlifting experts.

“They’ll go over stuff like the big three: squat, bench and deadlift — how to identify weaknesses and improve. They’ll work with you hands on, one on one,” Jessica said. “Most people will never see these professionals again in their lives to have this opportunity. They don’t travel up to North Dakota often, they usually like to do coastal things.”

She emphasized that proper form is crucial to success in the weightroom.


“Especially with powerlifting, if you have the wrong form it can really screw up all your lifts,” she said.

For more information about the competitions or the seminar, call 406-370-3868.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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