PIERZ - For 15-year-old Beth-el Algarin, powerlifting and setting world records has become a way of life.

The Pierz teenager trains with her father Luis, who's been her coach since starting her with the weights when she was just eight years old.

Beth-el and Luis Algarin (Dan DeBaun, WJON)
Beth-el and Luis Algarin show off three powerlifting championship belts. (Dan DeBaun, WJON)

"My Dad lifted through high school and college and he was very strong-a 600 pound bench presser. He wanted us to try, so one day he took us down to a gym and had us start lifting," she says.


Luis says Beth-el has broken around 78 world records in different age and weight divisions since she started powerlifting. In less than a year after starting her training, she went to her first championship and broke three world records for curl, bench press and deadlift.

"We have video of her when she was eight or nine, after she would break a world record she would sprint off the podium and jump into my arms," he says.

Luis jokes that Beth-el has won so many medals and trophies that they’ve run out of space to put them. The awards they are most proud of are displayed in the living room. Hundreds of others are put into boxes and are brought out from time to time.

The two train in their family business warehouse in nearby Buckman. When they train, Luis is always asking and monitoring how Beth-el feels. He times her sets and rest periods. They play motivational music on repeat for energy.

Beth-el credits her Dad with keeping her focused and disciplined.

"He knows how I tic, he isn't afraid to get in my face and tell me 'you can do this-I know you can'."

Beth-el and her father are confident she’s strong enough to get into the Olympics. But two knee surgeries in the last year has likely pushed that back until 2020. Luis says olympic weightlifting is also a lot more technical compared to powerlifting.

A young Beth-el competing. (Photo: Luis Algarin)
A young Beth-el competing. (Photo: Luis Algarin)

"I think 2020 is where the 'explosion' will happen. Strength wise I think she's strong enough but technically, we just haven't spent enough time because we've been shying away from the legs."

If she continues to bounce back well from her injuries, Beth-el could compete internationally in China or Peru in an effort to get high marks from the Olympic committee to make the team. Right now she’s kicking up her training to see if she's ready and is also focused on getting a college scholarship.

"My main goal is to get a division I scholarship through either shot put or discus because in weight lifting, even though that's a sport still in the Olympics, I just don't see as much of a chance getting a scholarship in that."

The Algarin family lives right next to the high school and to help with her goal, Luis recently put in a new discus training ring next to the school track.

"We decided that bringing this here to the school, not just for Beth-el, but others could benefit from it."

Beth-el is one of seven siblings and most of them also take part in powerlifting, some starting as young as five-years-old. Luis says he’s careful with his younger lifters, focusing on technique.

"You're not going to take a five year old and put 500 pounds on them, you might take a five year old with 10 pounds and see if they can control it. We first want to make them experts at their technique and skill."

With Olympic and track and field records on her mind, Beth-el is also reminding herself to be thankful of the talents and experiences that she’s had.

"I credit all that talent to God because I was born with it and now I just have to train it, I have to honor it and I have to do with it what I'm meant to do with it."

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