Samantha Zalepa rose to a new level of competition, but produced the same impressive results.
The West Pittston woman, who began competing in powerlifting earlier this year, turned professional in August and quickly proved she was ready to perform on the new level.
During her professional debut at the Lexen Xtreme Dog Days Meet in Grove City, Ohio, Zalepa set four world records in single ply for the 123-pound division. Single ply refers to the category of uniforms and equipment, such as belts and wraps on their joints that lifters use for support.
Zalepa, weighing in at 120, squatted 250 pounds, bench pressed 140 and deadlifted 250. Those figures and her total of 635 pounds were all records for her weight class.
After setting four state records earlier in the year, Zalepa sought tougher competition and new records to pursue.
Lifters get three attempts in each discipline. They often go with a lower weight first – Zalepa started at 215 on the squat – to make sure they have a score posted, then try to better it with a successful lift at a higher weight in their remaining attempts.
Zalepa was successful on eight of her nine attempts. After being unable to make one lift on the bench press, she wound up getting 135 pounds to tie the existing record. Being tied with a world record allowed her one additional attempt to break the record and that is when she made the 140.
“I’m going to stay at 123 now,” said Zalepa, who set her amateur records at a lower weight class. “It’s a healthier weight. It’s more natural for my body to be comfortable; 114 was a little low for me, it was a dieted-down weight.
“Now, my strength is going up with my weight.”
Zalepa is setting sights on trying to qualify for a Revolution Powerlifting Syndicate (RPS) team that will represent the United States in Slovakia in May, 2019. RPS was the sanctioning body for the meet where Zalepa set her records in Ohio.
When word spread at Tony’s Wine Cellar in Pittston, where Zalepa works, several people stepped forward as sponsors to help her with the costs of traveling to Ohio for competition.
“They got me to the meet,” she said. “They all asked me when I was going and how they could help.
“I couldn’t do it without them.”
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