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PSNK softball standout Oravec has sights set on pro powerlifting

| Thursday, May 30, 2013, 1:31 a.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Penn State New Kensington softball standout Tarra Oravec, of Allegheny Township, lifts weights at a former church in Apollo on Thursday May 23, 2013.

Tarra Oravec has given the Penn State New Kensington softball program a lift, but the Kiski Area graduate seems to have found her niche in the sport of powerlifting.

Oravec, 20, competes in the Juniors (ages 20-23) Open Raw Division. In her last competition April 27 at the Ironsport Power Classic in Philadelphia, she set national records for her division in the bench press, squat and deadlift. She bench-pressed 165 pounds, squatted 275 and deadlifted 400. Raw is defined as completing your lift without the help of additional equipment.

“I honestly had no idea I'd do that good,” Oravec said. “I knew my deadlift was going to be good, but I didn't think it would be 400 pounds. That was the goal, but I had never done it before. I was really excited and proud of myself. It's an honor to be the best in the country at something.”

She now has her sights set on something bigger: becoming a professional powerlifter. In order to achieve her goal, she will need to accumulate a total of 895 pounds lifted between the three exercises. She will try for that mark June 22 in York, Pa., at the International Powerlifting Assocation National Championships.

Oravec trains at Keyhole Barbell in Apollo. Owner Cory “Swede” Burns serves as Oravec's strength and conditioning coach and wasn't surprised to see her set the records.

“She had the potential to do it,” Burns said. “I told her she was going to be able to do it right before the meet. I'm not going to be surprised when she gets the pro total either. She has an excellent work ethic.”

This past year, Oravec completed her junior softball season at Penn State New Kensington. She was named first-team all-American by the United States Collegiate Athletic Association, player of the year for the Penn State University Athletic Conference and first-team all-conference as a pitcher. She finished the year with eight home runs, 29 RBI and a .444 batting average.

Training in powerlifting helped her achieve the accolades, and softball head coach Mike Marsili noticed a difference in her play.

“It definitely made her stronger,” Marsili said. “At the plate, she had a quicker bat speed. Pitching wise I think she picked up a little bit of speed because of her arm strength. Her legs were stronger, so she could push off the rubber.”

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