Naperville Central defensive end Maverick Ohle lives to lift.
Except when he’s sacking a quarterback. Or hurling a discus to a record distance.
The 6-foot-2, 235-pound junior excels at football, track and field, and powerlifting, which is his first love.
“There’s different aspects to all of them, but the thing that makes me me is my lifting,” Ohle said. “I love lifting.”
Indeed, Ohle is not a difficult person to find. Just look in the weight room. If he’s not there, he will be soon.
A typical day for Ohle during the fall revolves around getting in his reps.
“With recovery and everything, it’s an all-day deal,” Ohle said. “You wake up and go to school. In the seventh period, I have a strength and performance class, where they allow us to lift, which is nice. I get a little bit of my workout done, but not all of it.
“Then I go to football practice, go home, eat, change clothes, and I head to the gym. I’m home at 9 o’clock, and then I go to bed.”
Does that sound exhausting? Ohle finds it exhilarating.
“It’s just routine for me, and I just fell in love with the routine and the way it makes me feel,” Ohle said. “I love the adrenaline from hitting a PR and getting a sack. I just love the feeling it gives me.”
There has been plenty to feel good about. When Ohle was 4, his father John introduced him to powerlifting. Ohle entered his first national competition the following year, and by age 12 he had won two junior national championships. He can bench press 335 pounds, squat 530 pounds and clean and jerk 360, and he has posted video on social media to prove it.
“He’s a very goal-driven kid,” Naperville Central coach Mike Ulreich said. “He has very high goals for himself in the weight room and on the football field. He has great attention to detail and wants to get better. He’s a fun guy to coach.”
Ulreich brought Ohle up to varsity as a freshman and put him in the starting lineup as a sophomore.
Through five games this season, Ohle has a team-high five sacks, including one in a 14-7 DuPage Valley Conference loss to Neuqua Valley on Friday, when he helped the Redhawks (3-2, 1-1) hold the Wildcats to just 152 yards of offense.
The show of strength is not limited to the football field or the weight room. Ohle spends each spring season competing in shot put and discus for the Redhawks.
As a sophomore, Ohle set personal bests in both events at the sectional meet, where he won the discus with a throw of 54.93 meters. At the time, that was the best throw by a sophomore in the nation that season.
Ohle eventually finished with the second-best mark nationally among sophomores and placed second at the Class 3A state meet. His personal record broke the school record that had been held since 1982 by Steve Bogdalek, who played football at Michigan State and is a member of Naperville Central’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
Ohle received a phone call from Bogdalek.
“That was really cool,” Ohle said. “He called me, and first thing he did was congratulate me on beating the record and said he’d put in a word for me with Michigan State.
“He said that whatever I’m doing is obviously working because I beat his record as a sophomore, and just keep working hard and breaking records.”
Ohle intends to do so. He wants to follow in the footsteps of his father, who was a linebacker on a Missouri state championship team in high school and came up just short in a bid to make the Olympics with the US powerlifting team.
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Another inspiration is Ohle’s older brother Wyatt, 25, who won a 16-and-under judo world championship.
So where does Ohle get his intense drive?
“That’s a complicated question,” Ohle said. “It’s really a lot of places. I was just born that way, competitive in whatever I do, and I want to be close to the best.”
Ohle, who was named a team captain by his peers, is taking his athletic career one week at a time. His ultimate goal is to become a strength coach, but before that he’d like to play in the NFL or make the Olympics.
Lofty goals, but perhaps not a heavy lift for Ohle.
“I’m definitely enjoying the moment,” he said. “But I want to achieve bigger and bigger and bigger.”
Matt Le Cren is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.