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18 Lobos Max at Night of Champions

by Frank Mercogliano

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Night of Champions made a triumphant return, and whether it was the nearly 400 fans that came out to watch or the 21 student-athletes attempting to max out on personal bests, everyone was pumped up and ready for UNM’s opening game on September 2 against Houston Baptist.  In fact, it can’t get here quick enough.

Night of Champions, which started in 1992 and was held every spring until 2008, was certainly a new concept to the current Lobo squad, none of whom were alive when Dennis Franchoine started the tradition.  In fact several of the competitors weren’t yet in grade school the last time it was held.  Certainly, the adrenaline of the crowd helped 18 of the 21 competitors hit their personal bests, and overall UNM’s competitors hit or surpassed their max a grand total of 33 times.

Night of Champions was held inside University Stadium for the first time due to COVID-19.  The switch from inside the weight room allowed for fans to come out and enjoy the festivities.  With four stations set up along the UNM sidelines, UNM had six competitors on the bench, 10 competitors on two clean stations and lastly five on the squat.

In the bench press, Reco Hannah, Zarak Scruggs, Patrick Peek and George Steinkamp all hit PRs, with Hannah hammering out a bench of 390.  Los Alamos native Steinkamp twice maxed out as did Zarak Scruggs.

In the clean, all 10 Lobos hit max weight, led by Jerrick Reed II, who maxed three times.  One of the highlights was fifth-year senior Corey Hightower hitting a PR of 290 pounds, and then making a run at 300 and hitting that.  All 10 Lobos made a clean pull from at least the 300-pound benchmark.

However, it was the squat that the big weight resided, and it was there that four of the five Lobos hit a max.  Adam Gay and Bryce Santana both hit 565 pounds, with Gay coming oh-so-close to 585 pounds.  Santana had six successful squats, including three maxes.  Perhaps the most amazing performance was turned in by sophomore running back Chad Alexander.  The 5-6 speed demon from Louisiana is known for his speed and being a compact, powerful runner.  Alexander opened at 425 pounds, then went up and hit at 475 before maxing four straight times, first at 495 and then 515, 535, and finally 550 pounds.

The evening ended when Santana, the Los Lunas native with a large cheering section in the front row, successfully hit from 565 pounds, tying Gay for the evening.

“What a great turnout, and I’m so thankful for the fans coming out,” said head coach Danny Gonzales. “I think having 18 guys max is a great sign.  We have a lot of room for improvement and growth, but we didn’t have a full spring last year to lift, and when we were in Vegas we mostly did band work, so this was really good for us.”

Weights listed are successful lifts. Bold denotes Max (PR) lift.

Jacob Jankoviak – 365, 385
Reco Hannah – 350, 370, 380, 390
O.J. Bartley – 355
Zarak Scruggs – 315, 325, 330, 335
Patrick Peek – 300, 315
George Steinkamp – 285, 295, 300, 310

Ben Bertram – 315, 325, 340, 350
Bobby Cole – 305, 320, 330
Shaddrick Lowery – 300, 315
Jerrick Reed II -285, 300, 315, 325
Devin Sanders – 285, 300
Josh Woisin – 280, 290, 300
Austin Cook – 285, 290, 300
Dion Hunter – 275, 285, 290, 300
Mathias Bertram – 265, 275, 290
Corey Hightower – 265, 275, 290, 300

Adam Gay – 510, 540, 565
Aaron Dumas – 490, 515
Langston Murray – 485, 510, 525, 545
Bryce Santana – 475, 500, 525, 535, 545, 565
Chad Alexander – 425, 475, 495, 515, 535, 550