Christopher Kavanaugh. Brittany Tregarthen. Eric Mangrobang.
What do those three people have in common?
They have all represented Kodiak powerlifting at national Special Olympics competitions and walked away with medals.
Mangrobang, 17, joined the group on Thursday when he made his Special Olympics USA Games debut on the campus of University of Washington in Seattle.
It was an impressive showing in his first meet outside of Alaska.
The recent graduate of Kodiak High School won three silver medals in the M14 Division. He placed second in the squat, deadlift and combination. He was fourth in bench press.
The likable Mangrobang squatted a personal-best 286 pounds, deadlifted 293 pounds and benched pressed 160 pounds for a combined total of 738 pounds.
Mangrobang, who is nearly non-verbal, showed his excitement after each lift — a competitor gets three single-repetitions in each event.
“He was jumping up and down,” Alaska powerlifting coach Hal Lloyd said via cell phone from Seattle. “Of course he likes to flex, which is very cute and gets laughs.”
Mangrobang competed against lifters from Nebraska, South Carolina, Indiana and Wyoming.
Wyatt Bader of Nebraska overpowered the five-man field, winning four gold medals, lifting a combined 887 pounds — 227 in the bench, 330 in the deadlift and squat.
Lloyd said the atmosphere in the venue was electric and helped the athletes achieve personal-best marks.
“There was lots of cheering,” he said. “A lot of people were impressed with what they could do and were very supportive.”
Mangrobang started lifting in 2017 when Kodiak Special Olympics coach Lindsay Knight discovered him while visiting a Partners Club meeting at the high school.
Mangrobang instantly became a hit in the gym and was selected to compete at the USA Games by earning a gold medal at the 2017 state games. He was one of two powerlifters picked to represent Alaska.
“In the squats, he seems to go down lower as he gets heavy, while most of us kind of falter when we get heavier, but he just sinks them,” Knight told the Daily Mirror in June.
Lloyd said Mangrobang could have added another 15 pounds to his 286-pound squat on Wednesday. That’s how easy he made the lift look.
During their time together in Seattle, Lloyd understands why Mangrobang, despite his lack of speaking, is usually the center of attention.
“If you Google the definition for easy-going, the reply would be see Eric Mangrobang,” Lloyd said.
The USA Games started on July 1. Mangrobang and Lloyd have been attending various events and supporting Alaska’s other athletes.
During halftime of a unified basketball game, Mangrobang was picked from the audience to participate in a dance contest. He won.
“He took the microphone from the master of ceremonies and started doing karaoke,” Lloyd said.
Kodiak powerlifters have a history of doing well on the big stage.
In 2012, Kavanaugh won four medals at the Summer World Games in Athens, Greece, while Tregarthen grabbed three medals at the 2015 Summer World Games in Los Angeles.
Mangrobang celebrated his triumphs by attending Wednesday night’s Major League Baseball game between the Seattle Mariners and the Los Angeles Angels.
“I will try not to let him see how many hot dogs he can eat,” said Lloyd earlier in the day.
1. Wyatt Bader, Nebraska, 403; 2. Eric Mangrobang, Alaska, 335; 3. Brian Pittman, South Carolina, 313; 4. William Norman, Wyoming, 265; 5. David Paul, Indiana, 240.
1. Wyatt Bader, Nebraska, 103; 2. Brian Pittman, South Carolina, 103; 3. David Paul, Indiana, 95; 4. Eric Mangrobang, 73; 5. William Norman, Wyoming, 60.
1. Wyatt Bader, Wyoming, 150; 2. Eric Mangrobang, Alaska, 133; 3. William Norman, Wyoming, 125; 4. Brian Pittman, South Carolina, 125; 5. David Paul, Indiana, 105.
1. Wyatt Bader, Nebraska, 150; 2. Eric Mangrobang, Alaska, 130; 3. Brian Pittman, South Carolina, 85; William Norman, Wyoming, 80; 5. David Paul, Indiana, 40.