Freshman powerlifting champion ready to face new challenges

Article body

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented unexpected challenges in every Auburn student’s life, but if there’s one person who has the strength to power through those struggles, it’s Rachel Klein.

With several national and state powerlifting championships under her belt, the freshman from Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania, has proven she has the fortitude to take on any obstacle that is thrown her way.

Klein began her powerlifting career after she was introduced to the sport by a close friend during her sophomore year of high school. However, she was no stranger to competition or hard work.

“I had been a competitive gymnast for eight years, then joined CrossFit,” Klein said. “I thought powerlifting would be something I could be good at and have fun with.”

Klein, who is a pre-architecture major, participated in competitive powerlifting for three years and wasted no time when it came to winning medals.

“My first competition was a qualifier for high school nationals, and I won my division and qualified for nationals,” she said. “Then at that nationals, I was in the junior high [division] due to my age, and I won my division.”

During her junior year, Klein qualified for nationals again and finished third. She also qualified to represent the United States in the North American Bench Press Championships after winning her division in a national bench press meet.

“My senior year, I competed in the North American Bench Press Championship,” she said. “I won both age divisions I was in—sub junior and open—which is all ages in my weight class, and I qualified for nationals, which was unfortunately canceled due to COVID.”

The diminutive Klein’s height landed her in the 47 kilogram (103.62 pounds) weight class, where she excelled. At just 4-foot-11, her bench press personal record of 55 kg (121.25) is impressive, especially when paired with her deadlift record of 90 kg (198.42) and back squat record of 80 kg (176.37).

Klein’s high school powerlifting career will not continue at Auburn, and she’s ready to leave that part of her life in the past for now.

“I decided not to continue with powerlifting in college because of lack of time, but I still visit the Rec almost daily to keep in shape and stay strong,” she said.

Instead, the award-winning athlete is focusing her time on succeeding in one of Auburn’s award-winning academic programs.

“I chose Auburn for its nationally ranked architecture program,” Klein said. “It’s a lot of work right now, but it will be worth it in the end.”

After graduation, Klein plans to stay on the East Coast, where she hopes to start her career at an architecture firm.

Until then, she will continue settling in to college life and looks forward to her involvement in campus organizations, such as the Auburn University chapter of the American Institute of Architecture Students.

“So far, I really enjoy college,” she said. “I expected more challenges because I’m from so far away, but everything has been great.”

Related Media

Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research with an elite, top-tier Carnegie R1 classification, life-changing outreach with Carnegie’s Community Engagement designation and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 30,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn’s commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact.