Strongest Zephyrs are named
For twenty years, the Whitehall football team has staged an epic battle among teammates that features amazing feats of strength and endurance.
This competition isn’t for the faint of heart. No sirree!
They were out competing in the blazing sun to see who could claim the coveted title of World’s Strongest Zephyr.
The 12 participants competed in a variety of events that test their physical and mental toughness. It’s an annual event which rewards players who have earned the right to compete by making the grade in the weight room. Players lift in the offseason as part of their workout regimen, and then qualify for the competition by scores accumulated in their bench press and squat totals. They become eligible by meeting weight room goals in their bench press and squat totals.
It began in 1998 and its inaugural champs were Mike Skrapits (lightweight), Adam Skrapits (middleweight) and Chris Check (heavyweight). It was the brainchild of current defensive coordinator Mike Yadush, who was inspired by the cable shows that featured strongmen Magnus Ver Magnússen and Berend Veneberg.
It’s a way to have fun and boost camaraderie among the players as they watch their fellow teammates compete. It’s also made more entertaining by assistant coach Steve Piston, who acts as the emcee, injecting some humor into the contest, especially during the introductions where the contestants perform skits.
While all the events test a player’s stamina and strength, the Tug-of-War stands out as the most grueling event. It’s the final event and players are already exhausted so they must push through all the pain to win the event.
This year they crowned three new champs, with Liam Sullivan taking the lightweight crown, Chad Hussett, winning the middleweight division, and Justin Santiago tops among the heavyweights.
Sullivan, a junior, said that his experience in the Tug-of-War was something that requires a lot of mental fortitude.
“I said to my friend, that was one of the hardest challenges I ever felt in my entire life,” said Sullivan. “The pull at the end, I was almost completely out of energy in a really good competition between me and my friend [Waheeb] Wehbey. Yeah, definitely more mental.”
Hussett, the middleweight champ, said that the mental aspect of competing in the World’s Strongest Zephyr plays a huge role.
“You’re out competing and everyone is exhausted, so you need to be mentally tough to make it though,” said Hussett.