Former Charlo football player prepares national Special Olympic spotlight

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SPECIAL OLYMPIAN Chandler Krahn poses after medaling at the Montana State Special Olympics. Krahn, a former Charlo Vikings’ football player, will now participates in the powerlifting portion of the National Special Oympics July 1-6 in Seattle. (photo courtesy of Mike Krahn)

Former Charlo High School standout football player Chandler Krahn has transitioned his success from the gridiron to having an opportunity to participate in the powerlifting portion of the Special Olympics.

Krahn, who was a standout Vikings’ lineman for four years, now will have a chance to participate on the national stage at the Special Olympics National powerlifting competition July 1-6 in Seattle.

Mike Krahn, who is Chandler’s dad and the head coach of two Vikings’ teams that have qualified deep into the Class C 8-man football playoffs, said in the sport of powerlifting basic conditioning is a “challenge.”

“What makes it tough to power lift is that it is a little different from bench pressing,” Mike Krahn said. “You have to pause and then lift it from your chest, and that is tough. That is quite a change from squat depending on how you are training. You don’t normally go all of the way parallel. The competition is a lot different than if you see people in the gym deadlifting and just picking (the weight) straight up off the ground and controlling it.”

Chandler Krahn got an opportunity to be involved with Special Olympics through Bethany Manuel, who teaches special education in Charlo.

“When Manuel, our special ed teacher, asked him ‘if he was interested in doing powerlifting,’ he thought it would be pretty cool,” Mike Krahn said. “He is really good about researching stuff and he found out what it took in order to compete in the Special Olympics.”

Chandler Krahn, who had a strong background in football, was able to transition into powerlifting pretty naturally.

“It’s enough from football and the major muscle groups you strengthen, and it lends itself to Olympic lifts and powerlifting while it goes hand in hand with football,” Krahn said. “Part of what makes him successful in powerlifting is the strategy. You have to peak at the correct time by building up your weight as you go, and doing higher reps, lower reps and heavier weight. You have more chances of injury when you put higher weight on the bar. He injured his back lifting for sports with a stress fracture in his back from heavyweight. One of those things you have to do is make sure you have proper technique so you don’t hurt yourself.”

Chandler Krahn’s coach Mark Kuhr, who is based in Whitefish, said one aspect that will allow him to compete on a national stage where portions of the Games will be broadcasted on ESPN, is being able to mentally cope with the national level.

Chandler, who has played in bigger, high-pressure 8-man football games, might be able to adapt.

“There is so much of the mental game with being able to put up with weightlifters and get into their heads,” Kuhr said. “There is still a little bit of mind games that go on. In order to be a successful powerlifter competing on a big stage auditorium, you have to be able to perform in front of 15-20,000 people.”

Prior to the competition, Chandler Krahn will get a chance to practice where the University of Washington Huskies, an NCAA Division I football program, gets to train.

“He will be working, competing and training in the varsity football workout room,” the coach said. “It has everything under the sun and it is incredible. I think it is going to be an eye-opener for the guys from smaller communities. It’ll be impressive to watch them and see how they perform.”

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