by Susan Mikula Campbell
The 10th annual USPA Red Brick Bench Press Championship drew 135 weightlifters to Buffalo's Connecticut Street Armory last Saturday, Feb. 16, to raise funds for the Friends and Family of Western New York Military.
The total amount raised at the largest one-day, bench-press-only meet in the U.S. is still being calculated, according to Dennis Brochey of Lewiston, meet director and New York state chairman of the U.S. Powerlifting Association. Brochey has raised more than $80,000 in the first nine years of the competition.
The meet featured 22 divisions for youths, men and women, based on age and weight.
Two Niagara-Wheatfield residents were among those to win in their groups.
Brochey will be taking one of the meet's Outstanding Lifter Awards to Primerano Fitness on Military Road in Town of Niagara today, Feb. 21, to present to Adam Ferchen. The award honors fallen troops, and Ferchen's award is in honor of Staff Sgt. Aram J. Bass of Niagara Falls.
Ferchen, 22, a 2008 graduate of Niagara-Wheatfield High School, was one of 23 people who broke state records and one of seven who broke American records at the bench press championship.
"He's been around the sport as far back as I can remember, setting records in his age group," Brochey said.
Ferchen has a state record in the 198-pound open division and a state and American record in the 198-pound junior division for ages 20 to 23. He accomplished a 402.7-pound bench press.
In addition, his Primerano Fitness team took first place in the open team division.
Another Niagara-Wheatfield resident, Anthony D. Gilmore, 49, competed for the first time at this event. He did a bench press of 259 pounds, taking first place in the 198-pound master division for ages 45 to 49, Brochey said.