BERLIN — The whiteboard on the folding table at Saturday’s Berlin Lineman Challenge showed two names, one the current leader in bench press repetitions, and below him the current fastest time through the agility course.
Kyshawn Togba’s name was on top, but he was pointing to the bottom. “I wish I was right here” under agility, Togba said.
“I’d rather be there than the bench,” the 6-1, 335-pound senior said.
Togba was the star of the morning Saturday. His 34 reps at 185 pounds topped the meet record set by Darien’s Mike Neary, who went on to Brown. He said he had no idea he had that in him.
“My teammates hyped me up. Once I got to 25 they kept saying, keep going, get 30,” Togba said. “Once I got to 30, I was like, I’ve got some more left.”
Like Neary, Togba was named the top lineman there, an award named for Berlin’s late Nick Zuk.
And while his strength was on display, so was the quickness as he lugged weights downfield in the “move the mountain” drill. In “power drive,” players rolled a large cylindrical bag that had been loaded with sandbags, a drill that sometimes seemed sisyphean. Togba flew through it.
“As a kid I played basketball, soccer,” Togba said. “That kind of helped me.”
Togba started for the Westies in 2019 as a sophomore. Last year, on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, their school building was under construction. There wasn’t a weight room to visit even if they could have.
Togba worked out at home with borrowed weights to keep up on the bench press and squats.
“I basically had to keep doing it every day until it just became normal,” Togba said.
Normal, hopefully, returns Sept. 10, when Harding visits Ken Strong Stadium to open the 2021 season. Last year’s Lineman Challenge was canceled, so Saturday was a little piece of a return to normal.
“It’s kind of, like, weird, because as you said we didn’t have a season and couldn’t really work” Togba said. “But it was good being back with my team, working out with them again.”
In a year, in college, Togba is thinking about studying something involving music. He has been playing drums since he was 4; all his cousins, he said, have played.
Where that will be, he’s not sure. Losing his junior year hurt, a familiar lament. A good few games early could draw some attention, maybe? “Hopefully,” he said.
Saturday may have been a decent start.