Mission resident William Carter knew his appearance at this year’s USA Weightlifting National Junior Championship would be his last. And there’s no better way to go than leaving on top.
After finishing in second and third places in the competition in previous years, the 19-year-old Carter beat out 11 of the best lifters from across the country to win the 105kg Junior Championship title in Oklahoma City last week.
“In the past, it had always just been out of reach,” Carter said. “It felt pretty great to finally get there.”
Carter has been working out since he was 11, but got serious about weightlifting while he was in high school at SM North. As a member of the Indians football team, he undertook an extensive strength training regiment. Eventually, local weightlifting coach Boris Urman, an emigrant from the old Soviet Union, suggested Carter give competitive weightlifting a try.
Carter entered his first meet, a local competition in Kansas City, Kan., in 2010. At the time, he was snatching about 155 pounds and clean and jerking about 220. Over the weekend, he won the National Junior title with a best snatch of approximately 269 pounds and a clean and jerk of 364.
The gains over five years that allowed him to take the title didn’t come easily. In high school, he would spend fully 24 hours a week in the gym, sometimes spending five hours a day working out during the school week. After he graduated, his total hours in the gym dropped, but the intensity got higher and higher. His parents sacrificed time and resources to be with him at events and help support his training.
And Urman was an exacting coach. His “Club Boris” team practices at Crest Bible Church in Merriam, the former South Park Elementary school, in what used to be two sixth grade classrooms.
“We don’t settle for anything less than what he sees as perfection,” Carter said. “I don’t know that I’ve ever actually had a perfect lift in his eyes.”
But Urman says Carter has been a diligent student, somehow balancing his commitment to lifting with his pursuit of becoming and Eagle Scout and other interests.
“I knew he would do well in this because he is a very serious young man,” Urman said.
Carter’s dedication and focus came into play in Oklahoma City, where he looked to be in a poor position to take the title after the snatch. The best of his three lifts put him in sixth place, making it seem almost impossible that he could finish in first overall.
But his 165 kilo clean-and-jerk outpaced his competitors by such a wide margin that he ended up finishing four points ahead of the second and third place finishers.
“I wasn’t worried,” Urman says of the slow start in the snatch. “Because I know how strong he is.”
Carter is currently enrolled at Johnson County Community College, but will be transferring to the University of Kansas this fall. He says he won’t pursue a “senior” career — for lifters aged 20 and older — on the competitive weightlifting circuit, where individuals start to qualify for the Olympics and other major international competitions.
“Honestly, I don’t think my body can hold up with that kind of strain,” he said. “And there wouldn’t be room for school. It would be like a full time job.”
Instead, he intends to pursue a degree in exercise kinesiology in hopes of training high-level athletes as a career. Urman thinks Carter can accomplish anything he sets his mind to.
“I’m very proud of this young man,” he said. “I would go to war with this man behind me and have full trust in him.”