Heller selected to represent USA at University America Games

Will Heller received a bronze medal at the US National Powerlifting Championships in Las Vegas earlier this summer.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Not too long ago, Will Heller was a football player at St. Francis de Sales High School.

Fast forward to now, and Heller is gearing up to represent the United States in a world weightlifting competition.

Heller, a Toledo native and Northern Michigan University weightlifter, qualified for the US University Games in Mexico in October after winning a bronze medal at the US National Weightlifting Championships in Las Vegas earlier this summer.

The craziest thing of all: he’s only been in powerlifting for two years.

“It’s definitely been tough coming from a football background,” Heller said. “But believing in the coaching and adhering to the programming is really all that matters. If you are willing to put in the effort, you will reap what you sow.

Heller’s powerlifting coach, Todd Baden, says Heller is an athlete who focused on the slow process to get where he is today.

“He’s a very strong kid,” Baden said. “If anything, he fights a bit like some athletes do; they want to score now. But if you asked coaches at the national level, the one thing they would tell an athlete is that patience is a must.

Heller is indeed a strong man. His personal bests in competition include a snatch lift of 284 pounds and a clean and jerk lift of 360 pounds.

As Heller prepares for the big stage in October, he continues to train hard, but with humility.

“It is truly a great honor to represent myself and my country at a very high level,” Heller said. “When I got the invitation, I was really excited and ready to train hard and win medals for this country.”

For now, Heller continues his preparation, looking to add another medal to his collection which already has three bronzes.

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