Powerlifting gave Kelsey Horton of Rapid City the skill, strength and confidence to compete on “The Titan Games,” which aired earlier this year on NBC. Horton is now co-organizing a local powerlifting meet to give the sport a boost in South Dakota.

The inaugural Black Hills Classic powerlifting meet will be June 1 at Hay Camp CrossFit in Rapid City. Up to 60 competitors can enter; the deadline to register is Saturday, May 18. There is an entry fee to participate, but spectators can attend and watch the meet free of charge.

Black Hills Classic will be the first-ever powerlifting meet in South Dakota that is sanctioned by the United States Powerlifting Association. Horton is the first USPA-certified powerlifting referee in South Dakota and will be one of the judges at the Black Hills Classic.

“The beautiful thing about powerlifting is anyone can do it,” said Horton, who has introduced her 8-year-old daughter to powerlifting. “The last meet I was at, I saw an 80-year-old man powerlifting for the first time. You can be a very novice to a very experienced lifter. I don’t think there’s a right or wrong person to compete.”

The meet is open to men and women 13 or older who have at least a basic knowledge of powerlifting, Horton said. “You can enter if you have lifting experience, or come check it out and see if it’s something you’re interested in for next year. We’re hoping to make Black Hills Classic an annual event.”

The USPA is one of the premier powerlifting organizations in the United States.

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“It’s one of two that has higher standards of getting certified as a referee. Judging (at meets) is stricter. They have higher standards,” Horton said. “A lot of more professional athletes will venture toward USPA meets versus any other federation.”

The top three male and female lifters at Black Hills Classic will win cash prizes, Horton said, and the best overall male and female competitor will each receive a title belt.

Horton’s training partner, Damien Pezzuti, manages Rapid City’s Complete Nutrition store. Complete Nutrition is sponsoring the cash prizes and providing a gift bag for every competitor, Horton said.

Meet director Albert Alvarado of Squat 2 Depth Apparel in St. Louis is co-sponsoring Black Hills Classic. Alvarado will provide some of the equipment for the meet and some judges, Horton said.

Horton’s goal is to “get a barbell in as many hands as I can because I love powerlifting and I feel like other people would too if they were exposed to it,” she said.

“In the last five years, there’s been a boom in powerlifting but it’s still not quite to South Dakota yet,” she said. “It’s limited. I want to change that. I want to give people more of an opportunity where they can compete where they don’t have to drive so far.”

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