Local resident wins Strongman National title

Bothell resident Patrick Castelli poses with friends after winning the Strongman National Championship. - Matt Phelps, Bothell/Kenmore Reporter
Bothell resident Patrick Castelli poses with friends after winning the Strongman National Championship.
— image credit: Matt Phelps, Bothell/Kenmore Reporter

When Bothell resident Patrick Castelli arrived in Texas for the North American Strongman (NAS) National Championships in October he was not feeling his best.

He was just miles from where he wrestled in the Division II National Championship tournament in March and he admits he was very disappointed with his finish. He was also not at his best for the strongman competition - or so he thought.

“The day before the competition I could not bend down to touch my kneecaps,” said Castelli, who had a back injury.

But he had not flown 2,000 miles just to sit and watch. He instead achieved the impossible, winning the National title in 175-pound weight class, beating out two former world champions and a record number of competitors.

“It was definitely exciting,” said Castelli, who got some tips from a professional strongman on how to deal with the injury just prior to the competition. “I felt better going into day two than day one. I think it was partly adrenaline and decreased inflammation in my back.”

The two-day competition is a grueling test of strength with six different events that would make most people shake their heads in disbelief.

During the first event, competitors had to clean and press a 220-pound axle as many times as possible in one minute. The second event consists of moving a 200-, 225- and 250-pound keg 75 feet in a wheelbarrow as fast as possible. During the last event on the first day, competitors had to dead lift a midsize sedan as many times as possible in one minute. The second day started with carrying a 635-pound yoke frame and a 550-pound free frame, separately, 50 feet as fast as they could. The fifth event was a medley of clean and pressing a 135-pound dumbbell, 175-pound keg, 220-pound axel and 250-pound log in 60 seconds. For the final event, competitors had to carry three Atlas Stones weighing 200, 240 and 260 pounds each, 15 feet and lift them over a bar.

Castelli doesn’t think he was the strongest person at the competition.

“There are small strategic things you can do,” said Castelli. “I beat them by being faster and smarter.”

Castelli, who works at Endzone Athletics in Kirkland, competed against more than 30 athletes in his weight class. He attended the event with seven competitors in different weight classes from Washington state, including Evan Heimbuch from Bothell.

“I didn’t know how many there were until the awards ceremony,” said Castelli, who qualified for the national competition during the three previous years but only competed twice. “I thought it was a huge upset win.”

One of the former world champions in the weight class also thought it was an upset win and he was unhappy about it. He said that his conversation with the man was a bit scary.

“This guy comes up to me and says ‘who the hell are you,’” said Castelli, who thought that the man had a few beers before the conversation. “He would joke around and say, ‘yeah, I should kill you in the parking lot,’ and then get this serious look on his face.”

Despite the unnerving conversation, Castelli is excited about his next step - the World Championships - for which he is still looking for sponsorships.

With the win, Castelli will compete for the world title on Feb. 28 and March 1-2, in Columbus, Ohio.

But he will have to bulk up a bit as the closest weight class is 185 pounds.

“The rest of the world does not like to compete that small,” said Castelli.

The win at Nationals is not the first time that Castelli has been a trailblazer. He grew up in Bothell and graduated from Ingelmoor High School in 2008. He planned to attend Western Washington University but the school did not have a wrestling program and he was not ready to give up one of his passions.

“They hadn’t had a wrestling program for like 30 years,” said Castelli, who helped to bring it back.

Castelli, 23, has only competed in 12 strongman events during the past five years. He got involved in the sport while at Western.

“I was in the weight room at Western when my roommate introduced me to Chris Lee, who was trained by Jesse Marunde,” said Castelli.

Chris Lee helped bring Strongman competitions to Western and Jesse Marunde was a runner-up at World’s Strongest Man in 2005. Marunde died in 2007 before Castelli could meet him.

“Chris has definitely had a big influence,” said Castelli.

Castelli, who graduated with two exercise science degrees from Western, said that he does a lot of weight lifting at Endzone Athletics and then trains for the actual Strongman events 12 weeks prior to the event. He said that his gym gives many professional athletes who train there a big advantage. The gym has a BioForce HRV or Heart Rate Variability machine.

“It manages the stimulus to adjust the training each day,” said Castelli.

The gym has played host to some famous professional fighters and local stars. Castelli helped to train former Seahawks quarterback Seneca Wallace on his first day at the gym.

“My eyes went wide and I was like ‘OK, don’t mess this up,’” said Castelli.

He said that he originally wanted to get his Strongman Pro Card but his win at Nationals has given him other goals as well.

“I kind of want to become the most dominant 175 pounder,” said Castelli.

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