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Published on July 07, 2016

UHS Strength trainer helps student athletes excel

07_18_16StudentAthleteExcelsWEB.jpgCan the strength-and-conditioning skills that benefit elite professional athletes help military special ops become more effective at what they do? Likewise, can specialized conditioning of that type enable high school athletes to perform better on the court, track and field?

The answer to each of those questions is yes, according to a man who’s an expert in training both warriors and sports stars.

Chris Knerl is a UHS athletic trainer and strength-and-conditioning coach who was featured in Sports Illustrated in 2014 for his human-performance work with the U.S. Air Force’s Special Operations Command.

And today he’s helping UHS Orthopedics & Sports Medicine expand its strength-and-conditioning program to a number of high schools around the Southern Tier.

“Our objective is twofold,” Chris said. “We want student athletes to avoid injury and we want them to optimize their performance.”

Recently Chris began working with Micah Marshall, a football player at Owego Free Academy, putting him through a wide range of fitness routines, such as the vertical jump, broad jump, 40-yard dash, battle rope, squats and tire flips, as well as agility drills.

Micah, a senior at Owego who is both a linebacker and a running back, also worked out with weights at school under Chris’s guidance.

“Micah was really committed to the program," Chris said.

The hard work paid off. After eight months, Micah racked up the highest number of points in competition with 269 other athletes at the Section 4 Football Combine, an event at which high school players from around the Southern Tier compete in intense fitness drills.

“Ever since I started working out with Chris’s program, I saw great improvement in my strength and conditioning,” Micah said. “It was a major change, and it happened quickly. I know it will be a big help to me in my senior year on the Owego team.”

Continuing, he noted: "I'm very thankful for this program, and really appreciate Chris working with me."

Chris Knerl has a solid track record in high-level conditioning training.

He grew up in Nebraska, received a bachelor’s degree in athletic training at the University of Nebraska and went on to earn a master’s in exercise science at the University of West Florida.

He spent eight years with the Special Operations Command at the Air Force's Hurlburt Field in Florida, managing a staff of 52 in the training of elite special ops military personnel.

“The idea is to take the conditioning methods used to prepare multi-million-dollar athletes and implement a model that works for multi-million-dollar warriors,” he said. “Your goal is the same: to keep them safe, healthy and performing at the top of their game.”

Chris moved to the Southern Tier last September, and by next fall will begin working from the new UHS Orthopedic Center, currently under construction on the Vestal Parkway.

He and a sports performance team from UHS will be taking their elite training methods to schools like Owego Free Academy, Union-Endicott High School and others that want their student athletes to learn the safest and most effective approaches to building and maintaining strength and endurance.

“What will set our program apart is that we will offer a much more scientific approach to strength, speed, agility and conditioning than is often available to student athletes,” Chris said. “That will be good for the schools we work with and for the students who are so devoted to doing their best and playing a good game.”

For more information about the strength-and-conditioning and sports performance program offered by UHS, call Danielle Donlin at 251-2605.

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