Sam Bigler

Columbia High grad Sam Bigler pictured here in a 1976 photo after winning an AAU crown that qualified him for the Olympics.

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April 15, 1970: Fifty years ago this week, Columbia High School alum Sam Bigler won a National Collegiate weightlifting championship for the 181-pound weight class. Bigler did so while lifting for Millersville University, which was then referred to as Millersville State College. He lifted a combined weight of 940 pounds. It’s unclear what events Bigler competed in for the combined weight, but it was most likely the bench press, squat and deadlift.

Those were actually the early years for Bigler’s weightlifting career.

He was quoted at the time in the Lancaster New Era as saying, “My aim is to be a world champion and an Olympic champion.

He went on to win the light-heavyweight weightlifting title in a National AAU competition in Philadelphia by lifting 308 pounds in the snatch and 397 pounds in the clean-and-jerk. The performance qualified him to compete in the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

In high school, Bigler competed in cross country, wrestling and track before going on to win three weightlifting titles while in the Army.

He can read more about him in this 1976 profile piece in the Lancaster New Era.