raise the bar
Photo credit: Ryan S. Brandenberg
DEGREE: BA, psychology, College of Liberal Arts, Class of 2015
HOMETOWN: Dalton, Pa.
Outside the gym, Kristi Polizzano is affable and quick to smile. But inside, surrounded by weights, she is often serious and determined. A sophomore studying psychology, Polizzano is a national powerlifting champion who has represented the U.S. in two world powerlifting meets. In 2011, she placed fourth in the International Powerlifting Federation World Juniors and Sub-juniors Championships in Canada. By Polizzano´s estimation, she can lift more than 300 pounds—even though she is 4'11" tall and weighs only 114 pounds.
How did you become interested in powerlifting?
My father is a lifter. He always took my brother, Bob, FOX ´12, and me to the gym with him, and encouraged me to try it. I started lifting in high school, and in my junior year, my dad entered me into a local competition, which I won. After that, I joined my high school´s powerlifting team.
Were you the only girl on the team?
I was. The coach´s daughter was our assistant coach, but I was the only girl who competed.
Do you think there is a stereotype about women lifters´ bodies?
Before I started lifting, I had these preconceived notions that they were all bodybuilders, and that they´re really muscular. I still wanted to look womanly, and get dressed up and go out. But at competitions, you see girls who you would never think were lifters. There are different weight classes, so you´ll see tiny, 97-pound girls lifting twice their body weight, and you´ll see bigger women lifting, too.
How is scoring determined when you compete?
In powerlifting competitions, there are three lifts you need to complete: squats, benches and deadlifts [pictured]. You get three attempts at each, and judges add those scores together for the total. So far, my best squat has been 220 pounds, my best bench has been 143 pounds and my best deadlift was 281 pounds.
You are currently majoring in psychology. How does one´s mindset affect his or her athletic performance?
The two are absolutely linked. In lifting, for example, if you go in questioning your ability, you won´t get your lifts. But if you go in confident with a positive attitude, it´s great motivation, and you´ll do better.
Your father still lifts. Is it something you also want to continue doing?
Absolutely. I want to lift until I´m old and can´t do it anymore. Lifting isn´t like other sports; there´s no prime time for it. You just get better and better each year. I´ve been to competitions with women who are older than I am who have world records. That´s something I aspire to.
Polizzano was featured on a local news program while still in high school.