The Big Lift

The college football career of Dalton Bateman was over before it started.

The Columbus East graduate sustained a concussion and injured the C4 vertebrae in his neck during a tackling drill in a preseason practice at Franklin College. Not wanting to risk more serious injury, he hung up his cleats.

“I guess (football) wasn’t near as fun to me as much as other things, so I kind of gave it up,” Bateman said.

But Bateman, who helped East to the Class 4A state title in 2013, wasn’t finished with competitive athletics. Shortly after recovering from his injury, he began powerlifting.

The results have been staggering. This summer, Bateman has put up numbers in the squat and dead lift that would be state records in his age group (20 to 23) if he does them in competition.

“Right after I recovered from all that stuff, (lifting) kind of became all I could do, so it was nice to see the numbers go up and see that I could actually compete with other people my age and size,” Bateman said.

In high school, Bateman broke the school’s squat record at 615 pounds and also bench pressed 370. Devorous Lewis broke his squat record a year later.

This year, Bateman has reached 750 in the squat, 415 in the bench and around the 600 range in the dead lift, which he hasn’t tried to max out yet.

“It’s totally different. Football is a team sport. You’re relying on 10 other people on your side of the ball. This one, it’s you and the bar. No one is going to pick it up for you. It’s either, you get under it and do it, or it falls on you.” I like it a lot more to be honest because it’s just me and the weight, and there’s nothing else.”

Following his freshman year, Bateman transferred to Ivy Tech in Columbus, where he is taking online courses. His weight has dropped from a high of 310 following the injury to 253.

Bateman’s first powerlifting competition will be in late August in Fort Wayne. He hopes to pick up some hardware and etch his name in the state record book.

But while Bateman has grown to love the sport of powerlifting, he still misses football a little. He was a three-year starter at defensive tackle for the Olympians.

“If I could go back to freshman year and start all over, I would,” Bateman said. “It went by so quick. Coaches tell you it goes by quick, and you don’t believe them until after it’s all over with. Now, as you grow up, all you have left is certain things. It’s a good memory, but it hurts sometimes.”

Dalton Bateman

Name: Dalton Bateman

Age: 21

High school: Columbus East

College: Ivy Tech

Year: Sophomore

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 253 pounds

Major: Kinesiology

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at or 812-379-5628.