ST. PAUL — It’s become an annual tradition in St. Paul to welcome home Gennie Vitt from winning a national title in powerlifting.
Vitt, a senior at St. Paul High School, was welcomed home on Saturday morning with a reception at the school following her third consecutive national title. Vitt won her crown at the USA Powerlifting High School Nationals in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
“My community means the world to me,” Vitt said. “They’ve made every welcome-home very warm. They are my biggest support group. I couldn’t do any of this without them.”
Vitt is undoubtedly one of the best young lifters in the nation. She holds USA Powerlifting records in Kansas for squat, bench press and deadlift.
“One of my goals was to put up numbers that nobody will beat for years,” Vitt said. “I’m blessed to be where I am.”
Her national title in Myrtle Beach was the third in a row for a girl who trains by working in a makeshift weight room in her father’s garage.
“A lot of self discipline has been in the works,” Vitt said. “I’ve been working hard and doing the best I can. I want to make all the people who’ve supported me all these years proud and make myself proud. I want to make my dad proud.”
The trip to South Carolina also marked the first time Vitt saw the ocean.
“I don’t get out much,” Vitt joked. “The water was cold, but it was a lot of fun. I’d definitely go back.
“It was very surreal. Every big competition has something a little different. They’re a lot of fun to compete in. I’m very blessed to have these opportunities.”
On Saturday, Gennie’s father, Dan, spoke to a crowd of about 100 fans before Gennie spoke to thank her supporters.
“I thought I might get emotional, but I held it together,” Vitt said. “My emotions don’t come with crying. I just express happiness and joy.”
Vitt, who graduates this semester, will continue her powerlifting career at Friends University in Wichita.
Friends’ powerlifting program competes under the USA Powerlifting umbrella, giving Vitt a familiar ecosystem to transition towards.
“Those are the meets that I’m used to,” Vitt said. “Being able to continue to compete in those will be very helpful.”
Vitt added that Friends’ welcoming atmosphere was appealing.
“Ironically, they’re very friendly people in a very friendly community,” Vitt said. “They reminded me of home and the love I shared for it. They weren’t just looking for my lifting, but they wanted me to have a place I could call home. I’m fortunate to find a place that wants me to be my best person in general.”
Winning three straight national titles is no easy feat. For Vitt, the far-fetched dream of being the best lifter in her weight class in the country has become an expectation.
“I always get nervous before a competition,” Vitt said. “But there’s this saying — expect to win. That gives you the drive and determination to not just believe you’ll go out there and do your best, but the belief that you’ll go out there and win.”
Vitt wants to study exercise science at Friends and hopes to become a strength and conditioning coach.
“I want to spread what I’ve learned and teach young children that lifting is more than just lifting,” Vitt said. “It can make you into the person you want to be.”
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