Hanson shatters U.S. powerlifting record at nationals

Natalie Hanson gets ready to squat 535-pounds. photo by Jacob Cloud

by Tommy Wells

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Natalie Hanson didn’t know anything about the sport of powerlifting as a youngster growing up in Western Alaska.

It is safe to say the sport certainly knows a lot about the daughter of Rick and Kathy Hanson. Especially after last weekend when the Bethel Regional High School graduate etched her name a little deeper into the sports’ records books while competing at the 2015 Men’s and Women’s National Powerlifting Championships in San Antonio, Texas.

The 25-year-old standout shattered the U.S. women’s record in the Squat competition and rolled to a second-place finish in the 185-pound weight classification. Backed by a record-setting lift of 534.6 pounds in the Squat event, Hanson finished the meet with a Total of 1,333 pounds, the second-highest total among all female lifters competing in the 24-40 years of age range in her weight class.

“It was pretty exciting to break it,” said Hanson, who graduated from BRHS in 2008. “The most I had ever did was 507 in training. But I think the adrenaline of being at the national meet kicked in.”

Hanson opened her squats easily enough, she admitted. In her first attempt, she successfully squatted a total of 485 pounds. In her second attempt in the first of three events, she did even better, posting a personal-best of 507.

Hanson said she was not sure if she would go for the women’s record heading into her third lift, but knew her teammates – Ian Bell and Preston Turner – would “probably” throw the weight on since she had pushed up her two previous tries easily.

“They (the first two attempts) went up faster than I thought so my teammates decided to take a big jump. I didn’t know how much they put on the bar right away, but I kind of figured it would be a lot.”

A lot, according to Bell and Turner, both accomplished lifters, was enough to break the national record.

Hanson didn’t disappoint anyone. Her final lift shattered the record of 530 set in November by USA Powerlifting Association Hall of Famer Liane Blyn.

Making the record even more stunning for Hanson, who is ranked No. 8 in the latest USAPL women’s Open division standings, was the fact that Blyn was competing at the May 14 meet.

“It was kind of special because she was there,” said Hanson. “We knew going in that I might be able to get 535 but, to be honest, I thought she might break the record, too. I was surprised I beat her.”

Blyn managed to escape with the overall title, however. She finished atop the Open division standings with a total of 1,401 pounds.

Hanson also did well in the other two events at the meet, posting a weight of 330 pounds in the Bench Press and 468 in the Deadlift. She may have done better in both events, but failed on her third attempt in both.

The national record marks the fifth record for Hanson, who didn’t take up the sport until 2012 when she moved to Anchorage to attend college. In early 2013, she set three American records in the Junior division, which was for athletes in the 20-23 year-old range, and later that year broke her own squat record.

“I didn’t even know the sport existed until I came to Anchorage,” she said.

Hanson, who works out at Southside Strength and Fitness in Anchorage, is just two semesters shy of graduating with a Masters degree in Civil Engineering.