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Junior pulls more weight, hopes for healthier life

Hannah Simon / The SPOKE

By Hannah Simon, Co-Staff Development Director

In a negative mental state, then freshman Ally Wen turned to her local YMCA, searching for solace in exercise.

“When I started, my confidence was definitely down,” Wen said. “It takes a lot of time to build confidence, but I feel like the main thing with confidence is knowing that you’re putting work into yourself and not cheating yourself out of your goals.”

Now, two and a half years later, the junior has found her confidence in the sport of powerlifting.

Powerlifting is a strength sport that consists of three lifts: squat, bench and deadlift. In competition, the goal is to get the highest total weight with all three lifts within your weight class. With the help of her coach Colleen Donahue, Wen trains four times per week at the PWRBLD Gym in King of Prussia. She recently competed in the 2024 USA Powerlifting Pennsylvania State Championship on May 4 and 5, where she hit personal records at squat with 237 pounds and deadlift with 292 pounds. Wen qualified for the 2025 USA Powerlifting High School Nationals, which she will compete in next March.

To track her progress, Wen began an Instagram profile, @allyw_lifts. She posts regularly, sharing advice, progress and lifts.

“I started that page just to post my lifts and put myself out there,” Wen said. “But now I mainly use it to connect with our community because I made so many friends through Instagram that I would not have made because they’re in other states.”

Both Wen’s mental and physical preparation extend beyond the gym. On Sunday mornings, Wen prepares meals for the week that stick to a strict nutrition plan. Wen balances her workout schedule with an Advanced Placement and honors course load. According to Wen, building discipline was difficult at first, but focusing on simple choices each day has helped her develop resilience.

“I feel like people tend to overcomplicate it a bit, or people are like, ‘I need to do everything right now.’ I feel like you can’t go from 0%  to 100% and expect perfection every single day,” Wen said. “It’s about readjusting my expectations and (recognizing that) not every day I’m gonna be 100%, and that’s okay as long as I’m just trying my best.”

While Wen has become well versed with the mechanics of powerlifting, she is constantly learning about perseverance, tenacity and commitment. Values that once inspired her journey now motivate her to continue.

“The sport has taught me so much that nothing else could ever teach me. For this prep, at least, I have gone through so many injuries. My hip flexors are strained. I sprained my wrist. I twisted my knee. I’ve had elbow pain,” Wen said. “There was a point in this prep where I was thinking about quitting, but then I kind of gathered myself back together, and I was like, ‘No, I’m doing this despite my injuries.’ The sport has taught me resilience and that nothing great comes easy. If it was easy, then everyone would do it.”

Hannah Simon can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Hannah Simon
Hannah Simon, Co-Staff Development Director
Hannah Simon is a junior and the Co-Copy Editor of The Spoke. As Co-Copy Editor, she edits print and web articles, ensuring that they follow the Associated Press' guidelines. She previously served as the Co-Sports Editor. Hannah covers everything from sports games to new clubs, but most enjoys reporting on the people of the community in any capacity. Outside of The Spoke, Hannah is a member of the girls' varsity field hockey and lacrosse teams, and recently committed to Northeastern University to continue her field hockey and academic career.