NASA powerlifting competition brings out lifters from far and wide

Kyle Phillips / The Transcript

Marcel McMoore competes Saturday during the NASA Oklahoma Fesitval of Strength powerlifting competition at the Cleveland County Fair.

Lifters from four different states weathered the Oklahoma heat for the second National Athlete Strength Association Powerlifting competition Saturday.

With about 40 lifters and 45 awards to be won, the competition was held at the Cleveland County Fair from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. in an outdoor tent. The lifters ranged in age from eight years-old to 65 years-old and they could enter into two different divisions.

Nick Dwinell, NASA referee and lifter, said within the powerlifting category lifters can squat, benchpress and deadlift and within the power sports category they can bench, curl and deadlift. The categories go by age and weight, Dwindle said, so that competitors will be lifting in the same age and weight class.

Jaron Sylvester, 42, and Drea Davis, 23, both from Norman won the two championship belts. Other lifters won plaques, medals or trophies for different feats in each category.

Sylvester said he has been lifting his whole life, but has done powerlifting the last four years. Davis is one of NASA's top female lifters, is on the the University of Oklahoma's powerlifting team and is on the NASA USA National and Team Championship Team Oklahoma, which won the June national championship in Lawrence, Kansas.

North Dallas Strength, a gym fitness team from Dallas, Texas, also came out to the competition and brought four first timers with them. Nokia Buckner, 45, and Ric Aruffo, 58, were among those participating in a meet for the first time.

"It's not about the numbers though it's just about doing the lift and seeing all of the camaraderie that everybody has in the powerlifting community," Buckner said.

Buckner has been lifting for a year and Aruffo has been lifting for three and both did did squat, bench press and deadlift Saturday. Three years ago Aruffo tore his back up and couldn't lift 50 pounds over his head, but Saturday he completed all of his lifts.

"The gym has been helping a lot, and I have been working on this for three years," Aruffo said. "So, this should be fun, I never thought I would be doing something like this, especially not at this age."

Marcel McMoore made a farther trip to the competition from her home in American Samoa after preparing for the competition for two months. With this being her first meet she competed in the deadlift, squat, bench press and got the state record in curl.

"I'm excited about opening doors with this competition, because I'm from American Samoa and want to continue it there and hopefully compete inner island," McMoore said.

Justin Jay, 23, has been lifting for six years and drove four hours from Humboldt, Kan. to compete in squat, bench press and deadlift. He said he has lost count of how many meets he has competed in, and wants to keep breaking his own personal goals with deadlift.

Norman resident Betsy Baker, 65, squatted 120 pounds Saturday, and has been lifting for two years and came back to compete for her second year. She said lifting empowers her, and the whole idea was to lift more than last year, but she wasn't interested in winning.

"With my age I don't have a chance against these other lifters, but that's OK it's all about pushing ourselves," Baker said. "It's very empowering, a lot of women walk around and they don't have self confidence, but this will give you self confidence. This is good for your body, strengthens bones, metabolism and mindset."

Norman resident Shandell Nash, 33, started lifting in February and brought her 6 year-old and 2 year-old sons to watch her compete in her first meet. She said it's important her sons see that women can be strong too.

"I'm excited to go in make some personal records and show support for women's powerlifting, because there are a lot of women power lifters, but it's not as well known that women powerlift so much," Nash said. "Everyone just assumes it's a bunch of big ol' guys, but women can do it too."

Ryan Ballard, the coach for the NASA USA National and Team Championship Team Oklahoma, has been lifting for 17 years and brought his sons Cannon, 8, and Hudson, 11, from Hinton to compete in curl and deadlift. Cannon and Hudson said they like to compete and enjoy lifting because it makes them stronger.

Sherifs Murrell, 13, has been lifting for a few months and came to the competition with his dad Jeremy Murrell from Kiefer and competed in curl and deadlift. Murrell's dad is an eight time world champion and his oldest brother is a two time world champion, and his dad said his son is next.

NASA Powerlifting is an all-natural and drug-free organization based in Noble and hosted their first powerlifting competition last year at the Cleveland County Free Fair, which was the first time in the fair's 102-year history that a powerlifting meet was held at the fairgrounds. The organization is run by Rich Peters, who also serves as the Cleveland County Fair board president, and his two sons Tad and Devin Peters.

"I enjoy seeing the different ages and genders and people just trying to out do their personal bests," Tad Peters said. "That's what I like about it, it's another tier up from their casual lifting, and seeing the camaraderie."

Under the same tent from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, one of the NASA members will be holding an arm wrestling competition with money awards. To view full results from the meet, as well as future NASA meets, visit

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