High school football: Huntley's Klemenz hoping powerlifting passion leads to big gains on football field

The gains Brandon Klemenz have made in his 2½ years working with powerlifter Gary Swanson are evident.

Klemenz came to Swanson’s Gym as a big freshman who could not squat 200 pounds.

He now squats 545 pounds, and Swanson thinks by the end of his senior year, Klemenz could break his son Dominic Swanson’s Huntley High School weight room squat record of 580 pounds.

The strength, however, is only part of it. Klemenz, a 6-foot-6 310-pound junior tackle for the Red Raiders football team, is quick to talk about another aspect of his growth.

“Coach Gary has helped me develop a mental attitude on the field,” Klemenz said. “Just get mad and don’t care who’s in front of you. He’s helped me to dominate the people in front of me.”

Klemenz, who recently set records for the Amateur American Powerlifting Federation, will play an integral role for Huntley’s football team this fall. The Raiders finished 6-4 and made the Class 8A playoffs for the fifth consecutive time last season.

“He’s working on what he felt, and we felt, were some of his deficiencies last year, a little bit of strength and aggressiveness and things,” Raiders coach Matt Zimolzak said. “He’s spent almost his entire offseason working on that, and you can tell from his lifting competitions he’s really working hard.”

Zimolzak encourages players to compete in other sports during the offseason. Powerlifting has become Klemenz’s other sport. On March 31 at Pheasant Run in St. Charles, Klemenz set national records for his class – 16 years: 140 kilograms (less than 308 pounds) – with a 518-pound squat and a 529 deadlift. His 303 bench was a state record. It was Klemenz’s first powerlifting competition. His total was 1,347½ pounds.

“For a kid in his first meet, that’s a pretty big number,” said Swanson, who runs a gym out of his garage and trains several area athletes. “When [Klemenz] first started with me, he was only squatting 195 pounds.

“He’s made some big strides since we started. What I try to do with the kids is not only getting them physically stronger, but mentally stronger for whatever sport they’re going to play.”

Zimolzak considers Klemenz and defensive tackle Matt Burba as the strongest Raiders.

“They’re competing for the strongest guy on the team,” Zimolzak said. “Matt is a two-time all-conference guy, and Brandon wants to be the guy. He’s kind of a quiet kid that’s just under the radar. He’s stepping up and doing his piece.”

Zimolzak likes when his players work with Swanson, who used to be on Huntley’s coaching staff. Swanson has competed in powerlifting for many years. Klemenz will return as the Raiders’ starting left tackle, which excites his coach.

“Being a returning starter, I hope I can be a leader on the field, have a presence on the field,” Klemenz said. “Like everyone on my team knows, I’m there to fight with them.”

Klemenz may not be as well known as other linemen prospects, but he hopes to change that this spring and summer. He will participate in a Tom Lemming Showcase and a camp at North Central College. He wants to attend more one-day camps in June and is considering schools at all levels.

“I”m excited to visit some colleges, go to more camps and showcases,” Klemenz said. “Get my numbers out there and show what I can do. I’m ready to get stronger for the season.”

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