Sam Zalepa Finds Early Success in Powerlifting

Like many of us, Sam Zalepa just wanted to get in shape.

"I was heavy and then I got into the gym and that's kind of where it went," Zalepa said. "My strength got really good. I've come a long way from then to now."

Now, she's not just stronger. The 28 year-old from West Pittston is powerlifting, and with her coach, Steve Matechak, she's getting pretty good at it.

"When Steve (Matechak) told me to do powerlifting, I laughed at him because I told him it was like a boy's sport, but I'm really glad I did do it," Zalepa said.

"She started getting a lot stronger and I said 'Why don't we try to transition into powerlifting?'" Matechak said. "At first, she was kind of a little skeptical about it. She didn't really want to do it, but eventually I convinced her to do it and here she is now."

Zalepa trains at Rick's Gym in Exeter. She's only been powerlifting for four months, but in that short time, she's already won two meets and four state titles.

"It's a whole new lifestyle," Zalepa said. "It takes a lot of dedication and time, but here I am. In four months I've come so far already and I definitely plan to go a lot further."

"I'm so proud of her, how far she's come in such a short amount of time," Matechak said. "It shows that she has a lot of dedication and a lot of strength inside of her."

Strength that can bench, squat and deadlift a combined 565 pounds, all in a 114 pound frame, a feat Zalepa hopes can inspire more women to powerlift.

"I have two children. I work at Tony's Bar and work two jobs and it's really hard to maintain everything, but women can do it just as much as men do it," Zalepa said. "Any woman can do it. I don't care your size, your age. There's no excuses. You can find time to do it and definitely having a good coach has definitely gotten me as far as I am."