S. ABINGTON TWP. — Abington Heights freshman Bodie LaCoe is trying to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
And, he is well on his way.
LaCoe, 14, has been selected to represent the United States at the 2018 World Classic Powerlifting Championships June 5-17 in Calgary, Canada where he will compete in the 116-pound weight class.
LaCoe qualified for the world championships by winning the National Teenage Championship, against lifters up to age 17, in Orlando, Florida this past October.
After watching his brother, Dalton, experience success at the highest level, Bodie decided to give the sport a shot.
“Dalton started when he was in high school and started going to nationals and worlds,” LaCoe said. “That motivated me to start and try to be like him. He tells me to never give up and always try my best at everything. I always look at what he does and try to do it better.”
Dalton will also compete at the world championships, in the junior division for lifters up to 23 years old, in the 116-pound weight class.
LaCoe credits longtime Abington Heights powerlifting coach Claude Welcome for helping him evolve as a lifter.
“He’s taught me a lot,” LaCoe said. “He’s really been there and helped me through everything. He’s probably the best coach I’ve ever had.”
According to Welcome, LaCoe will be the first Abington Heights freshman to compete at the world championships. He will compete against lifters who are 18 years old.
“He will definitely be the youngest at the world championships,” Welcome said. “It will be tough; we’ll have to see what the caliber of lifting is like in the rest of the world. Since he’s well-rounded, I think he’ll be competitive but it’s his first year. We’re looking for him to medal in an individual event, but I think he has a shot to be in the top three in the world overall.”
Welcome feels LaCoe’s transformation into an elite lifter is due to his intense work ethic and willingness to learn.
“He started in sixth grade and was like a baby here; he probably weighed about 67 pounds,” Welcome said. “His work attitude is real good and he’ll listen to you; that’s the big thing. Sometimes he wants to overtrain which isn’t good, but he’s still in the learning process. I think he’s starting to see the progress he’s making by sticking with the program.”
Welcome believes LaCoe’s early introduction to the sport may allow him to rewrite the record books at Abington Heights.
“His brother,(Dalton), started late in his junior year and only went to one high school national championship. Bodie started much earlier and he’s probably going to surpass everything that Dalton did in high school.”
LaCoe trains three days a week (Sunday, Monday and Wednesday) for one or two hours with the rest of the Abington Heights powerlifting team. While he recognizes the practices are grueling, he feels a sense of satisfaction at the end.
“You just have to work your hardest and keep on going,” he said. “There’s always an end to it; you just have to get it done.”
LaCoe won junior varsity high school nationals as an eighth-grader in Scranton March 29 to April 2.
“I had my brother and sister, Samantha, there supporting me,” he said. “I don’t think I could have done it without my family.”
He will compete as a freshman in the varsity division of high school nationals in March in Appleton, Wisconsin and Welcome expects him to win.
According to Welcome, LaCoe will likely tone down his workouts for a bit after high school nationals to ensure he’s in top shape for the world championships.
“We’ll take a semi break, with a little bit easier lifting for a week or two, then start hitting it again,” Welcome said. “It’s tough to stay at your peak constantly; we want him to do it when it counts.”
Reach Robert Tomkavage at 570-704-3941 or on Twitter @rtomkavage.