Turner Stanek

Turner Stanek, 16, from Maricopa recently won fourth place in a world championship powerlifting event in Sweden. 

MARICOPA — Turner Stanek, a 16-year-old powerlifter who recently won fourth place in the world in his weight group, said his skills came as a natural gift. He started doing it only two years ago.

The Maricopa teen worked his way up from starting CrossFit to becoming a member of the U.S. national powerlifting team, bringing home fourth place at the world championship in the 105-kilogram division in Sweden. His rapid success in the sport is a reflection of his skills, dedication and joy in the journey.

He began going to CrossFit three years ago, hearing about it from a friend who suggested he try the sport. CrossFit Maricopa is the home gym of the young athlete. His coach then suggested he try powerlifting, in which he continued to beat state and national records, eventually earning a spot in the U.S. national team.

“I love the community of powerlifting and CrossFit. They’re always by your side and they’re cheering you on,” Stanek said. “Everyone is so nice. I’ve made family outside of my family there.”

After his first competition, where he broke all state records in his division, he qualified for the state championships in April 2018. He placed first in the 14/15 age group and became top in the state. He then went onto nationals, where he placed first in his division and broke four American records.

The U.S. national team sent an email to Stanek in February, notifying him of his spot on the team.

Stanek trained one to two hours a day for six days a week in preparation to the world championship.

“I wasn’t super nervous; more excited than anything,” Stanek said. “I knew this was going to be the greatest experience and I just went along for the ride.”

After all, he made sure to stay focused and beat his “biggest competition.”

“The biggest competition is yourself,” Stanek said. “It is to do better than what you did in your previous competitions.”

Away from the gym and heavy lifting, Stanek enjoys being in the outdoors and spending time with family and friends. His support from the community is something he values in being able to come so far in his young athletic career. There have been fundraisers in Maricopa prior to his nationals and world championships.

“If it wasn’t for the community, I wouldn’t have made it here.” Stanek said.

Scott Bradley, Stanek’s coach, has been coaching since 2000 but has never seen anyone like Stanek in his career. He was excited to share that he has never had anyone go to world championship from his gym.

“He’s got a long career ahead of him.” Bradley said.

However, what differentiates Stanek from others is his personality outside of powerlifting.

“It’s just a way he carries himself. He’s so much more than just a guy that can lift heavy weight,” Bradley said. “He’s a good student, good brother, and being proud is an understatement. The sky is the limit.”

Stanek’s next goal is to beat his personal record in the nationals this year and to have a spot for the U.S. National team for next year.

“I’ll only get better from here,” he said. “I’m excited for my future.”