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The Hartzell Challenge


If anyone’s wondering who the strongest person at TAS is, the Hartzell Challenge will answer that question. It’s an insanely difficult challenge that requires extreme muscular strength to complete. Think you got what it takes? Here’s how it’s done.

The nitty gritty details are as follows: Contestants carry a 52 kg barbell in each hand and travel 10 laps around the fitness center. The contender with the fastest time wins. Dr. Hartzell estimates that the average time of completing this challenge is 30 minutes. He recommends that contestants set the barbells down after each lap and rest, because these barbells are HEAVY, and we certainly don’t want anyone’s arms falling off.

Let’s do the math. Each barbell is 52 kg. Melissa Cho (12), yes, this staff reporter, weighs 54 kg. Basically, you are lifting two Melissa Chos in each handimagine that. “The challenge won’t take more than a couple of minutes for most challengers,” Dr. Hartzell says, “they will have given up by then. Anyone who can do 10 laps all at once should be arrested and put in a zoo.”

This isn’t the first time Dr. Hartzell has issued challenges similar to this before. The first Hartzell Challenge took place way before students like you were even born on the face of this earth. “[The challenges] were always very popular…because everyone wanted me to lose,” Dr. Hartzell says. “The most infamous challenge was covered in a school newspaper around 1990; that involved both running and lifting. The final event, the bench press, was done on the auditorium stage during an all-school meeting. Yes, I won the challenge. There were several Hartzell challenges in the 1990sall of which I won.” So for those who think they could easily beat our upper school principal and pass the challenge with flying colors, think again. Dr. Hartzell has been training for the last 50 years. He evens trains spiritually; “Reading [Marcel] Proust helps keep up my spiritual shape,” he says. How could your training possibly top that?

Don’t lose hope [yet]! You still have a chance. Although Dr. Hartzell hasn’t lost a single challenge for the past 30 years, he thinks winning is getting “routine” and “boring.” “I thought that it was about time to give the flower of our TAS youth (to me, anyone younger than 60 is young) a chance to dethrone me,” Dr. Hartzell says. “Now that I’m entering middle age, my training regimen isn’t very vigorous; mostly, I go to the fitness center and talk to Mr. Mitchell or Mr. Wen.” He feels that there is one aspiring contender out there who will be the worthy successor of the title, “the strongest person at TAS,” from him.

The challenge hasn’t started yet, but Dr. Hartzell already has some possible contenders in mind. With a small but intimate crowd of five witnesses at the fitness center, he boldly called out his greatest foe, middle school principal, Mr. O’Rourke. “I’m calling Mr. O’Rourke out!” Dr. Hartzell says. “Come on, Mr. O’Rourke. Bring it on.” Other teachers have been challenged as well. He says, “I think that Mr. Bauer [upper school chinese teacher] would definitely be a contender. How about the two fitness strength and conditioning people, Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Wen? How about the leverage that Mr. Mueller has, our athletic director?” He’s also brought up a couple of potential upper school student contenders. “Where’s Myles Silsby (12)?,” Dr. Hartzell says, “I want himI want you, Myles Silsby. Vincent [Chen] (12)? I want you, Vincent.” To those who have been summoned by our principal, you’re expected to show up. And to those who go to the fitness center on a regular basis, Dr. Hartzell’s got his eyes on you.

“Perhaps the most astonishing aspect of this [challenge] is that Vincent and I are summoned by Dr. Hartzell without a pink or yellow slip,” Myles says. Similarly, Vincent is pleasantly surprised by Hartzell putting him and Myles under the limelight. “I feel weird saying this but I feel extremely honored to have been called out by our principal,” he says. “Myles and I are currently out with injuries. However, when we return to destroy this challenge, we only ask for one thing in return: [Dr. Hartzell], let’s train legs together.”

Mr. O’Rourke also had a say in response to Dr. Hartzell’s challenge. “Dr Hartzell is a very insecure old man who constantly needs to prove himself against other people,” he says. “If it was not for the fact that he can actually lift heavier weights than me, I would take up this challenge and put him back into place…instead I am hoping that the massive high schoolers can act on my behalf and thrash Dr. Hartzell for my honor and the honor of TAS!”

Any “massive high schoolers” out there? Congratulations, you’ve been endorsed by Mr. O’Rourke. If you’re passionate about defending Mr. O’Rourke’s honor, joining the Hartzell Challenge is not a bad idea.

“Contestants have from [November 22] until Friday, December 9th to compete,” Dr. Hartzell says. “Surely, no one has to train or strain to defeat a decrepit, over-the-hill, 64 year old principal!” When asked how he plans to promote this event, he says, “I plan to trash talk to a few peopleincluding Mr. O’Rourke, of course.”

Mark your calendars, everyone. If you truly believe you are the chosen one to bear this glorious title, with the little amount of time you have to prepare and procrastinate for this challenge, I suggest that you start working outnow. Dr. Hartzell asks you, “Which paragons of youth and strength will challenge an ancient artifact to claim the title of TAS’s Strongest Person?” The Hartzell Challenge will soon unveil this mystery!

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