KALISPELL — Kalispell Glacier running back Jake Rendina is picking up right where he left off after a first team all-state and all-conference selection last season. He's averaging 128.5 yards per game in 2021. But if he’s feeling any pressure, it’s because everyone is, not just him.
"It is not necessarily all on me, as a team there is a lot of pressure," Rendina said. "I feel as a younger squad going into this season we didn’t know where we were going to end up. Now we're heading into the gantlet of our season and the pressure is not necessarily on but we just got to preform like we know we can."
Rendina’s stats show his growth as player, but it’s his growth as a leader that he’s most proud of.
"I didn’t realize I was a leader until this year, I cracked a joke at a freshman, and I saw the terror in his eyes. After that I realized what I say matters. So, I think the maturity came to me my senior year. When I realized freshman do see you as a leader, whether you have stats or not," he said.
Rendina prepares how to be better on the field all year long, but not in the conventional way. He is one of the world's strongest powerlifters. As in, the fourth all-time world's strongest, the U.S. strongest, and the national champion for 16-17 year olds, and he says one absolutely helps the other.
"Strength, speed-wise, I think I am better than I ever have been at 235 pounds. I think I am more faster and just a better athlete than I ever have been,"said Rendina.
As for when he discovered his love for powerlifting, it seems like it’s always been a part of his DNA.
"Middle school I started hitting the gym, it just kind of escalated, I got stronger and stronger. I got to be the strongest in my class and then I got to be the strongest in the class above me. And then I met Donny Tudahl , through a coach and he said hey let's do a meet. So I did my first meet Battle Under The Big Sky," said Rendina. "I think two years ago, I ended up winning that. Got approved for nationals and we just said why not. I have the opportunity while I am still 17 and not in the adult bracket. So, we went to nationals and ended up winning and it was just a great time great experience."
This season Rendina has rushed for 514 yards and 11 touchdowns. Last year as a junior, the Wolfpack standout finished with 1,326 yards and 28 scores on the ground.
Even though his high school career is coming towards an end, Rendina hopes his football journey is just getting started.
"I have been blessed with a few opportunities to play college football, you know where I land I am not sure what school yet that I want to choose, but I definitely do plan on taking one of those offers and continuing my football career," Rendina said.