KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Tennessee’s Strongest Athlete and Heroes Cup strength competitions were held Saturday at the Cal Johnson Recreation Center.

Two employees, Darrow Davenport and Kent Johnson, with the City of Knoxville, came up with the idea for a strength competition for high school students.

Johnson said their goal is to get everyone involved with fitness.

“It’s just about building a community and making everyone feel like they’re a part of something,” Johnson said.

Ari Klasky is a junior at Webb School of Knoxville and took home the prize for “Strongest Male” at the competition. This comes one year after setting a world record.

“I set 1660 pounds between three lifts, at 198 pounds while 16 years old. That is number one of all time,” Klasky said.

Klasky set the record in February 2022 and has held onto the position since. His total number of pounds lifted is almost 40 pounds more than the athlete closest to him in the rankings. To make the world record he completed a 620 pounds squat, a 400 pounds bench, and a 640 pounds deadlift.

Klasky and his twin brother Ethan said powerlifting has become a big part of their life.

“We do other sports as well, we’ve competed in track and football but powerlifting has really brought us to try out other sports because our dad started taking us to the weight room when we were nine,” Klasky said.

He also said powerlifting and friendly competitions like this help him and his brother to encourage each other to improve.

“We just pushed each other and it just strengthened our bond together,” Klasky said.

Ashley Parrish is a senior at Maryville High School and won the award for strongest female. In addition to powerlifting, she is also a track & field athlete.

“I hope to go to the Olympics someday, so this is a really big accomplishment for me,” Parrish said.

Students competed individually and in teams. Five Austin-East High School football players, including Ty McNabb, took home the prize for the strongest school.

“It gives us another opportunity to compete against another school outside of the field, and get us better for when we’re back on the field,” McNabb said.

This year’s competition also expanded to include different groups of first responders.

After the high school competition, the Heroes Cup was held, where firefighters and police officers from various departments in Knoxville competed against each other.

They competed in various events such as the tire flip, heavy ball throw and bench press. The Knoxville Fire Department won the competition.

Johnson said they hope to expand the event further next year, and attract athletes from around the state.

Editor’s Note: The story has been updated with additional information.