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Teen weightlifter takes home first place

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    Mitchell Griffin of New Lebanon lifts a car as part of the Strongman U.S. Nationals 2018 Competition in White Plains on June 30.
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    Mitchell Griffin of New Lebanon, third from right, holds up his trophy after winning in his weight class in the Strongman U.S. Nationals 2018 Competition in White Plains on June 30.
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    Mitchell Griffin of New Lebanon, second from left, prepares for the Strongman U.S. Nationals 2018 Competition on June 30.
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    Mitchell Griffin
July 9, 2018 11:39 pm

NEW LEBANON — A New Lebanon weightlifter recently celebrated his 19th birthday with a triumphant national competition under his belt.

Mitchell Griffin, a 5-foot-6–inch, 200-pound college sophomore, took home the title of Strongest Teen in the U.S. on June 30 at the U.S. Strongman USS Nationals 2018 Competition in White Plains.

“It’s his biggest competition that he has won so far,” his mother, Raymona Griffin, said. “We’re pretty excited.”

Mitchell has come a long way from lifting tractor tires and kegs filled with sand. He is steadily accumulating his own weight training equipment and hopes to gain sponsorships to support his training and participation in future competitions.

Griffin, who began lifting weights for fun when he was 12, discovered Strongman competitions at age 14.

At 17, Griffin competed in his first Strongman — and won. He was the youngest competitor in the field, taking on men in their 20s and 30s.

“That was the first time I thought, Hey, maybe I am good at this,” he said.

The competition in White Plains boasted nearly 400 athletes. Griffin was one of seven competitors in his weight class.

Five separate competitions were held June 30. The first was lifting a 120-pound dumbbell overhead with one hand. The second was lifting a four-door sedan. Before the competition, Griffin had not lifted a car before, he said.

The third was flipping a 500-pound loader tire and dragging it 40 feet. For the fourth competition, Griffin had to pull, arm-over-arm, a Budget moving truck 75 feet. Griffin completed the course in 52 seconds.

The final challenge was to lift four stones. The first stone weighed 280 pounds; the second was 300; third was 330 and the last one was 350.

Griffin was one of three competitors to move all three stones. No one was able to move the fourth stone, Griffin said.

Griffin was surprised to learn he had won overall and was called up to the podium to receive a trophy.

“I almost couldn’t believe it,” he said. “It almost felt like I had to pinch myself; it was crazy. I knew I put in the work and did well, but I still couldn’t wrap my head around it that something like that is possible.”

Griffin’s next goal is to break the dead lift record of 535 pounds. A dead lift is made from a standing position, without the use of a bench or other equipment.

Griffin’s training schedule is rigorous and demands discipline. His diet is strict and sleep is important. He doesn’t stay out late, party or drink. He trains on alternating days for two hours at a stretch.

“My friends think I’m crazy,” he said. “They say I could never do something like that. But I never thought like that. I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun. I don’t see the trophy as an object to get. I see it as my commitment paying off.”

The Hudson Valley Community College sophomore is studying exercise science. He hopes to continue participating in strongman competitions for as long as his body allows him.

“I will take it as far as I can,” he said. “I will never be 6-feet-8 or 450 pounds like the guys on TV. I will probably not make it there but I won’t stop trying to.”

To reach reporter Amanda Purcell, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2500, or send an email to, or tweet to @amandajpurcell.