Lifting Their Bond: Father/son duo strengthen championship relationship through weights

Courtesy photo

Jon Pasko (left) and his son Jayden Pasko share championship smiles after winning the USA Powerlifting Open in their respective divisions June 8 in Casper. It was the first time the duo competed together and they don’t plan on letting it be the last time.

By RJ Morgan, sports editor


Twenty short years ago, Jon Pasko was thriving in his youthful years. He was an athlete growing up and went on to compete in powerlifting at Ashland University in Ohio.

Adulthood, raising kids, health issues and running the family business have  consumed a bulk of the last two decades. However, he has brought back his childhood passion of weight lifting and is enjoying it alongside his son, Jayden.

Months of training together at Glenrock Barbell Club for their first event together paid off in many ways. One of those ways came in the form of gold as they both captured first place in their respective weight classes June 8 at the USA Powerlifting Open in Casper.

The Paskos represented their hometown and their club with an impressive sweep of the titles. More importantly, it was a joyful return to the sport that Jon enjoyed as a youth and now as a proud dad and mentor.

“It was total deja vu. Thinking back to when I was young and my body had healthy joints and now getting back into lifting after surgeries is pretty cool,” Jon said. “For a parent to be able to do something with a teenage son is really cool.  There are times it is hard to connect with a teenager but lifting is the one thing we both really like.”



Jon had a competitive appetite as a teenager just like his son today. He played football and lifted weights at a large high school in Ohio so playing time was tough.

It was pumping iron where Jon found his niche. His first competition was in 2005 and he went on to win third place at State in Ohio.

“ I started doing it as a reason to be in the gym and to try and get in shape. I was obese,” Jon said.

It was on his college club team where he found his athletic edge where he could compete individually in powerlifting, a sport that incorporates bench press, squat and dead lift. He developed a passion for the  lifting and continued until adulthood changed his course.

“I stopped lifting after college because I thought I had to focus on my career and family and did not think I had the time to lift,” he remembered. 

Jon went to marry his best friend and they had two kids, Jayden (15) and Leona (11). They moved to Glenrock in 2011 to raise their family and run their family-owned electric business.




Now at age 38, Jon is regaininghis competitive juices. He has battled weight problems along the years and has a fused ankle caused by his career but getting back in the gym alongside his oldest child has meant the world to him and the family.

“I did not really take lifting serious until this year when I joined the Glenrock Barbell Club. After Jayden competed last November, it reminded me of how fun it was to lift,” he recalled.

Jayden is ahead of the game. He actually joined the club’s summer camp in its first year in Glenrock and hasn’t stepped away since. 

From summer camps to training competitively, Jayden has found his niche just like his dad some 20 years ago. He entered his first competition last fall at the Casper Chile and took first place and held 10 state records in his class.

Jon officially joined the barbell club last winter so he has spent the past six months lifting and preparing to compete with Jayden for the first time. The milestone weekend will be remembered forever as Jon won the Raw Open division for his weight class and Jayden won the Raw Teen 1 division where he now owns  more state records.

“Lifting helps to get you stronger,” Jayden said. “You could say I feel like myself when I’m competing.”

Jayden spent memorable day with his dad  lifting record after record. He finished with 286.6 pounds in squat, a 176.4 bench press and a 308.6 in dead lift for a stunning 771.6-pound total.

Jon was relentless with the iron as well. His bests were 319.7 in squat, 242.5 bench press and a 336.2 dead lift for 898.4 pounds.




Both Jon and Jayden said this is just the beginning of competing, both together and separately. It has strengthened their bond as well as boosted their health.

“My goal for lifting is to beat my college lifts. The main difference between then and now is that in college I competed with equipment. Meaning I would lift with compression shirts and a squat suit,” Jon explained. “This time I am lifting Raw meaning no equipment other than a lifting belt.”

He has also started training to compete in grip strength sports. He’s at the right place as his coach, Sarah Chappelow, competes on a worldwide  level. 

Lifting has also complimented his health as he has battled obesity for years. He had weight loss surgery last July when he tipped the scales at 366 pounds and is now 10 pounds away from losing 100 pounds which he attributes lifting to leading him to a healthier lifestyle.

*My diet consists on high protein. I had stomach surgery for weight loss for health so I did not start lifting again till after the surgery.  I have lost 90 pounds since July last year,” he said. “Because of that I cannot eat a lot in one sitting so I have a lot of protein shakes and vitamins specially to stay health at my age. I take protein, creatine, glutamine, fish oil, glucosamine and chondroitin.  Most of this is for joint health.”

Jayden’s first meet with his dad and second of is his successful career are history but the effort in the gym is not. He and his dad lift for an hour and a half, four days a week . . . and some times an extra day.

In his first year at Glenrock High School, 15-year-old Jayden competed in golf and track. He even lettered as a freshman in shot put during indoor season.

Weight lifting is already paying off and he is considering taking his strength to the gridiron for football his upcoming sophomore season. However, he will continue lifting regardless and hopes to enjoy a few more events along with his dad.

They rely solely on the training schedule of Big Jim at Glenrock Barbell Club.  Training is a part of their life and hope their journey might aspire others to join the lifting family.

“I have been to two competitions and my goal is to always do better then the last competition,” Jayden said.

Jayden is not competing this summer because he is working a summer job and going to open football workouts as he considers playing on the offensive line for the Herders. One thing he does not have to consider is lifting weights because that grind isn’t ending any time soon.

“Lifting is good for me to get anger out and get out of the house. Kids should try it to see there is a reason why they should lift,” said Jayden, who hopes to compete again this year with his dad at the Casper Chile. “I love lifting with my dad. I’m excited to compete with him again and see what happens my sophomore year.”



At age 15, Jayden currently holds six State records at his division and weight class.

Event Pounds

Squat 286.6

Bench press 176.4

Bench single lift 176.4

Dead lift 308.6

Total weight 771.6

Total push-pull 485


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