Strongest Zephyrs crowned at annual event
Every spring members of the football team gather on their practice field to compete in feats of strength and endurance to see if they can claim the coveted crown of World’s Strongest Zephyr.
It’s no easy task, to be sure, and in order to make it to the zenith of Zephyrdom, one must first pass muster in the weight room. Assistant coach Steve Piston, who emcees the event, said that it’s a way to reward the hard work the players have put in the weight room over the year. It’s something that’s become a long-standing tradition among the football team, a way to recognize their top lifters in three weight classes: lightweights, middleweights and heavyweights.
“Nothing is given to these guys; everything is earned,” said Piston.
All that hard work had got them to the place where they’ll be tested even further, challenging both their bodies and spirits in four events that are designed to see who has the mental and physical make-up to succeed.
Those events include the wheelbarrow race where they steer the sandbag-laden wheelbarrow over a predetermined course; the bucket hold where they must extend their arms out to their side, and parallel to the ground, and maintain that position with the buckeyes filled with 10 pound weights for as long as they’re able; the obstacle course where the must negotiate a number of different obstacles, and the tug-of-war, easily the most grueling of all the events.
It’s also mixed with some fun and levity as contestants emerge from the field house in their chosen costumes as Piston introduces them to the crowd. It’s often combined with a routine that’s become a big part of the annual affair as well. This year’s winner for best costume was Jaeden Romero.
Once the commotion is complete, the winners for each weight class will be forever enshrined into their World’s Strongest Zephyr pantheon.
This year’s winners include Mike Hernandez (lightweight), Ali Barkley (middleweight) and Javal Reyes (heavyweight).
“It’s a badge of honor to be immortalized with all the former World’s Strongest Zephyr winners and have your name on that board that hangs in our weight room,” said Piston. “This was our twenty-first year of doing the Wold’s Strongest Zephyr that Coach [Michael] Yadush created in 1998, and it was nice that he and Coach [George] Makhoul and Coach [Justin ]Kondikoff still like being a part of it. The players still enjoy competing in it.”