When Nathan and Amanda Daufeldt purchased Blaze Fitness six years ago, they never imagined their son Owen might take weightlifting so seriously.
The West Liberty Middle School eighth grade student prepared for a world-class weight lifting event on Aug. 20 – the AAU Junior Olympics in Las Vegas – in just six months and finished by setting four world records, three American records and claiming two gold medal awards.
It was the first time the 14-year-old had ever competed in such competition, lifting in an 88-pound or less class, as the young man lifted against about 20 others in his class under coach Tom Bowie, a former West Liberty resident who now lives in West Branch and took two of his boys, Jeff Bowie and Derek Starks, to compete in the same competition about five years ago, claiming four gold medals at the time.
His father said Owen didn’t take weightlifting seriously even though he’d participated in a number of sports including football, baseball, basketball and track – Nathan saying he was “in and out” when it came to lifting weights.
That all changed when Bowie first saw Owen lift. “He was screwing around one day when Tom saw him lifting and asked if he could give him a few tips,” Daufeldt said. ”After all, he’s not going to listen to his mom and dad.”
After a month of working with Bowie, the young man was ”lifting very competitive weight” including deadlifting more than the world champion in his weight class.
He said Bowie encouraged Owen to compete in the AAU Junior Olympics, telling the Daufeldts, “Let’s go out and have some fun with this and make this happen,” said Nathan Daufeldt. “It went better than expected.”
That’s for sure. Daufeldt set a world record for his weight class in Squat by lifting 157 pounds, another in Bench by lifting 99 pounds, set a single-lift bench mark at 99 pounds and then deadlifted 204 pounds to set a fourth world mark.
He also set the American deadlift record at 204 pounds and then set another American record for a single lift bench press at 99 pounds. Owen also claimed both American and World records with his three-lift total of 448 pounds.
Owen calls his newest sport “very exciting,” but said he’s not going to give up participating in other sports – especially his favorite, football, even though he considers himself “small,” standing just 5’-2”. But that doesn’t mean he’s done growing by any means.
The youngster admits to learning a lot about weight lifting and what it can do for his body, lifting nearly every day of the week and every chance he gets at Blaze, including riding his bike to the center on West Rainbow Drive in West Liberty from his home three miles away in Elder Ridge near the West Liberty Golf and Country Club.
Owen praised Bowie for his coaching, noting, “He pushed me pretty good.”
His mother said even his eating habits have changed, noting he has a lot of protein intake as well as water. “It got him excited about being fit and gaining muscle,” she said. “We’ve seen a lot of changed in his nutrition habits.” He’s even started using an air fryer to fix his own meals, noting the youngsters has a sudden desire for protein products.
Daufeldt said Bowie’s coaching was essential to Owen’s success in the competition, noting there are fine lines when it comes to power weightlifting competition like keeping your back straight and knees locked in certain events. “He trained him in the appropriate techniques,” said Daufeldt.
Now Bowie wants to put together an entire team of West Liberty and West Branch weightlifters to compete in April, hoping to attract five to six youngsters for the competition. Owen is expected to compete at the 97 or 105 pound weight class. Blaze Fitness plans to sponsor the trip.
Owen Daufeldt not only excels in weightlifting, but has seen success on the track as well, helping his Comet 4 x 100 relay team to a new Iowa River Valley South Conference record this past fall with teammates Cooper Gates, Xavior Baker and Axell Polanco.
This is the sixth AAU Junior Olumpic golf medal that has been won in power ifting competitions by a Blaze Fitness member, hoping to bring home even more medals in future competition.
The couple said they bought Blaze Fitness in September 2015.