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Paladins’ “Tank” sets record in powerlifting

MARCH 13, 2012
by Sara Morano ’14, Contributing Writer

“I don’t really have much down time,” says sophomore Andrew “Tank” Phillips, echoing something that is often heard among students on Furman’s campus.

As Phillips continues to explain his busy schedule, though, he makes a claim that, as of February 11, can rightfully be made by no one else in the world: “I was running drills in practice up until Thursday, then setting the record on Saturday.”

Phillips is a super heavyweight powerlifter for Furman’s competitive team, as well as an offensive lineman in football. He has carried his nickname, “Tank,” which the 296-pound offensive lineman needs only explain with a shrug, since he started playing football and lifting weights with his dad, a master-level powerlifter, in the fourth grade.

Phillips set his world record by squatting 575 pounds in the 20-23-year-old division of the World Natural Powerlifting Federation (WNPF)’s All-Raw Tournament of Champions, held in Furman’s Herman Lay Physical Activities Center last month.

The Tournament of Champions ranks the results of powerlifting meets in New Jersey, Ohio and Florida with the Furman-hosted South Carolina meet to determine its winners. It was only Phillips’ second meet, but in addition to the world record, he set state records for the power curl total and deadlift.

According to Health Sciences professor Tony Caterisano, who with Coach John Sisk led Furman’s WNPF-titled team, Phillips’ training and successes have made him “a fine representative of a long line of varsity football players who have joined with the powerlifting team to represent Furman in world competitions.”

Caterisano also noted the progress the February meet marked in Phillips’ powerlifting career, saying, “Tank has shown a real improvement from last May when he competed in his first meet for Furman.”

Phillips said he was surprised by this improvement. In addition to the world record, he broke his own personal record in competition.

“I knew going in that you could set world records [at the WNPF meet], but I didn’t know that I was close enough to break it.”

His defeat of an international powerlifting champion, previous record-holder Nodar Tatishvili of the Georgia National Team, was similarly an accomplishment of unanticipated gravitas.

“I didn’t really know [who Tatishvili was] until after I beat him,” explains Phillips, who was made aware of his biggest competitor when his sister sent him video clips of Tatishvili lifting in front of fans cheering in the Georgian and Russian languages.

The results of the tournament will tally the competitors of the Florida, New Jersey and Ohio meets before the lifters are ranked at the end of the month.

As he awaits the official results, though, Phillips says he is ecstatic about how his second meet went.

“It’s not every day that you set a world record,” he says — although he adds that his 575-pound squat has yet to earn him preferential treatment in the dining hall. On “Chicken Finger Tuesdays” he is still served two pieces at a time, like everyone else.

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