June 24, 2011
Dustin Wharton, a rising sophomore safety on the Georgetown University football team, set Teen Division world records in the bench press (440.92 pounds) and in combined weight lifted between the bench, squats and deadlift (1,572.98 pounds) at the Natural Athlete Strength Association (NASA) Powerlifting Nationals in Springfield, Ohio on June 14.
Despite, setting world records in his first national powerlifting competition, Wharton still finished second in his own household in the bench press, as his father, Tim, won the Master's Division title, benching 507.06 pounds.
"My Dad is in real good shape," Dustin admitted. "I don't know how he can still out bench press me. He just won't let me win."
Despite finishing behind his father, the younger Wharton has shown dramatic improvement, and can now claim two world records, a clear sign that he is not too far behind.
"Lately I've been catching up to my Dad in lifting and we've been pushing each other," Wharton said. "He's always been on this high pedestal that I've looked up to and it's just awesome being able to make each other better."
To call Dustin a "gym rat" could be considered an understatement. It is just the way he was raised. While some fathers and sons bond over playing catch the Wharton's spent time together in the weight room, as Tim helped build a strong work ethic in his son, a work ethic that has spilled over into other aspects of Dustin's life including his football career.
"Ever since I was little, my Dad and my older brother have always been in the weight room," Wharton said. "I can't even remember the first time I picked up a weight. The weightlifting has helped so much. It gives you that edge and the work ethic. The way my Dad taught me it gave me something to look up to and then you have that edge on other people with the work ethic that I've been brought up with since I was a little kid. It definitely gets you more prepared for the field."
Work ethic has not been a question for Wharton at Georgetown. The former star high school running back and linebacker at Allegany High School arrived on campus and was moved to safety during his first training camp. Yet, Wharton was still able to make a contribution in the defensive backfield and on special teams in his first season.
"Dustin is an all-in type of guy," Georgetown defensive coordinator Rob Sgarlata said. "He's one of the first guys in and the last guys to leave and is the type that is going to give a thousand percent. He comes in and watches video and I think the game really seemed to slow down for him during the spring."
Wharton began in competitive powerlifting as a freshman at Allegany in western Maryland. In the early going he only competed in the bench press. When he and his father helped him register for NASA Nationals in Springfield it would be the first time he would compete in the bench press, deadlift and squats.
"It was my first national meet and a lot of these kids are really experienced and the judging is so strict," Wharton said. "I just wanted to get a few good lifts, get an alright total and maybe comeback another time this summer. It was a really amazing blessing to get my top lift at such a big meet."
Wharton's success did not surprise those who have worked with him at Georgetown.
"Pound for pound Dustin is probably the strongest kid I've ever worked with," Georgetown Sports Performance Coach Carl Johnson said. "He's pretty self-motivated. When he got here he was about where we wanted him to be strength-wise, I just worked with him a lot on technique and to help him prepare with the type of equipment and suits they wear in competition and he continued to make gains in his numbers."
Wharton is quick to give Johnson much credit for the records he was able to break during the NASA Nationals.
"I really want to give Coach (Carl) Johnson a lot of credit," Wharton said. "He really got me in right after the season and worked me out hard. It was almost like having a personal trainer. He really knows what he's doing and I learned a lot of different stuff from him. I've been working out for my whole life and sometimes your muscles get used to it, but he got me doing different stuff and my numbers went through the roof, so I have to give him a lot of credit."
Wharton continues to prepare for the beginning of football training camp in August where he will join a defensive backfield that looks to be one of the strengths of the 2011 Georgetown football team. During his preparation Wharton is considering entering another national powerlifting competition in hopes of improving his recent records.
"I feel like there is a lot of room to grow," Wharton answered. "I think I'm going to get in another meet in late July and see if I can improve some numbers. I guess it's about never being satisfied with where I am now. You can always improve, always get better. Right now, it's about staying safe and try to increase a little bit at a time."
The work ethic instilled in Wharton by his father continues to push Dustin in the weight room and on the field. Next up is the challenge of finally overtaking his father in the bench press.
"He loves it," Wharton said of the two competing together. "He's probably happy that he can still beat me out, but hopefully one more year tops, until I can catch him."