Freedom Of The (Bench) Press
Something was missing in Jeff Ellis’ storied weightlifting career. It isn’t missing any longer.
The 58-year-old West Bloomfield resident competed in a national meet for the first time and, to top it off, he won a gold medal.
His 275-pound bench press gave him first place in the age 55-59 198-pound division in the Amateur American Powerlifting Federation national meet April 20 at the DeVos Place Convention Center in downtown Grand Rapids.
Ellis lifted 264 pounds on his first try, but he was disqualified at 275 pounds on his second lift.
“I racked the bar too early,” he said. “I wasn’t happy. It’s like losing your concentration and getting picked off first base.”
Ellis went back to work and lifted 275 pounds on his third and final lift.
“Redemption,” Ellis said when asked to describe his last lift.
“But I was a little disappointed,” he said. “That 264-pound lift would have been good for first place, but I wanted to try 286 or 290. There was no guarantee I could do that, so I stayed at 275.
“It was a respectable lift. When people look at AAPF championship lifts down the road, I want them to think I had a decent lift. The last two championship lifts (in the division) were 286 and 259 pounds.”
Competing in the AAPF national meet was a feat in itself for Ellis, who will turn 59 on May 1.
He qualified for the 2016 and 2017 national meets but couldn’t compete because of injuries. A bad shoulder sidelined him in 2016 and a torn triceps tendon knocked him out in 2017.
Ellis earned a spot in the 2018 national meet in December when he won his division in the AAPF Michigan Holiday Push-Pull Meet in Royal Oak. His winning lift of 290 pounds tied his AAPF state record.
Ellis won another Michigan Senior Olympics gold medal in February when he took first place in his division in the Winter Games in Rochester with a bench press of 281 pounds.
It was his 14th gold medal to go along with one silver and one bronze from the 16 Michigan Senior Olympics games in which he’s competed.
Ellis plans to compete in the Michigan Senior Olympics Summer Games and the AAPF meet in Royal Oak later this year.
Detroit bowlers won two major championships in the International B’nai B’rith Bowling Association’s 77th annual national tournament held last month in Denver, Colo.
Waxer’s Roses won the team title with a score (with handicap) of 5,455, beating runner-up Fake News from Tinley Park, Ill., by only three pins and third-place Fricken Ten Pins from Kansas City, Mo., by 15 pins in the 20-team competition.
Howard Waxer, Mitch Lefton, Jerry Rose and Howie Gerenraich from the Brotherhood-Eddie Jacobson League were on the Waxer’s Roses team.
Gerenraich also won the Class A (168 average and above) singles title with a score (with handicap) of 1,478. Runner-up Scott Hecht from Kansas City, Mo., had 1,432.
Each bowler rolled three games each day of the tournament.
“I had 688 (without handicap) the first day and 712 the second day, but I thought I bowled better the first day,” said Gerenraich, who underwent knee replacement surgery last May.
The surgery was on his left knee … the sliding knee for a right-handed bowler like Gerenraich.
Gerenraich said the knee had been giving him problems for about 15 years “but it really went south last year. It was inevitable that I had to have the surgery.”
Even though his knee is still numb, Gerenraich bowled 256-267-279—802 on March 5 as a sub in the Brotherhood-Eddie Jacobson League.
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Gerenraich has run the pro shop at Airway Lanes in Waterford since 1993.
Scott Mattler from the Brother-hood-Eddie Jacobson League was fourth in Class B singles with a score (with handicap) of 1,400 in the IBBA national tournament.
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