Farmingdale native Matt Sohmer was once a successful football player with Farmingdale High School. When he started playing in college, a devastating knee injury ended his career before it really kicked off. Now, he has become one of the best powerlifters in the country.
When he was a junior in high school, Sohmer tore his meniscus. After coming back from that his senior year, he tore his ACL. As he started getting into powerlifting thanks to the rehab process, he began getting stronger. After another late hit in college made it almost impossible for him to continue playing, that’s when he turned his full attention to powerlifting.
When Sohmer went to powerlifting full time, he progressively got better at the sport. He competed in the United States of America Powerlifting RAW Nationals, the nationwide tournament for lifting, in 2015 and 2016. Unfortunately, a bad leg injury kept him out of the 2017 tournament and there was concern that it could’ve ended his career.
“The road to recover was hard,” said Sohmer. “The doctors told me I could never lift or do anything physical ever again. They told me the same thing after my knee injuries when I was playing football.”
His latest injury set up what was one of the greatest comebacks you can imagine. He competed in his third RAW Nationals in October. Sohmer was not among the favorites to win the tournament, which ultimately made him want to succeed more.
“A lot of athletes don’t do well under the spotlight,” said Sohmer. “For me, I thrive off that. When people watch me in my competitions, I always have that drive to do better. No one picked me to win, everyone thought I was going to lose, so that gave me extra motivation to prove everyone wrong.”
Sohmer ended up becoming the national champion of the 264-weight class, setting personal highs in all three lifts. He achieved an 843-pound squat, a 355-pound bench and an 810-pound deadlift for a 2,008-pound total. It was the first time he eclipsed the 2,000-pound mark. He was seven pounds away from breaking the class world record for squats and twelve pounds away from breaking the record for deadlifts.
Next up for Sohmer is the Arnold Sports Festival in March 2019, and then he will be competing in June in the world championship in Sweden for Team USA. Sohmer has had a lot of setbacks in his career, but that hasn’t stopped him from thinking he can’t win it all.
“Despite all the setbacks I had with injuries, work and life, I’ve actually gotten better,” said Sohmer. “I went from not even being mentioned on the podium and not favored to even place to smoking everybody.”