Three Pilot Point athletes will be in Abilene on Saturday for the Texas High School Powerlifting Association state meet.
Victor Martinez, a junior, will compete in the 165-pound weight class, Edwin Rodriguez, a sophomore, will compete in the 132-pound weight class and Javon Bruce, a junior, will serve as an alternate in the 165-pound weight class.
Martinez and Rodriguez are ranked low among state competitors in their respective weight classes, but powerlifting coach Robby Perez said he will look for them to reach personal bests Saturday.
“We’re young,” Perez said. “We’ve got a lot of room to grow.”
Already, Martinez and Rodriguez have shown significant improvement from where they were last year. Martinez has added 130 pounds to his squat, 30 pounds to his bench press and 115 pounds to his dead lift. Rodriguez has added 40 pounds to his squat, 25 pounds to his bench press and 15 pounds to his dead lift.
This is Bruce’s first year competing in powerlifting. The four-sport athlete missed tying Martinez’ state qualifying cumulative score at regionals by 15 pounds.
“He’s a big-time competitor,” Bruce said, referring to Martinez. “He doesn’t give up.”
To prepare for state, the Pilot Point powerlifting team worked out Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week. Since Christmas, the athletes have typically spent three to four days a week in the school’s weight room, arriving at about 6:30 a.m. After school, they committed to conditioning through running or moving sleds across campus fields.
For Martinez, the path to state began freshman year with his desire for a Bearcat letterman jacket. The self-described “scrawny” ninth-grader with no previous experience playing organized sports has since added about 35 pounds of muscle to his frame and made the varsity football team as a defensive lineman and running back.
To compete in the 165-pound weight class, he has had to maintain discipline in his diet. Sticking mostly to chicken, rice and vegetables, he has had to endure his parents enjoying favorites such as tacos and enchiladas.
“It’s hard to keep away,” Martinez said. “But I gotta do it.”
Focused on hitting personal bests, Martinez will also keep top competition on his radar. He mentioned Lee Bazan of San Diego High School, who lifted a total of 1,475 pounds for a win in the 165-pound weight class at his regional meet.
The three athletes and Perez will leave for Abilene on Friday.
“It’s almost like a business trip,” Martinez said. “I’m there to take care of business. … I’m looking to do good in state and next year, hopefully, I’ll win it.”
Rodriguez, meanwhile, entered high school facing high expectations. His two older brothers competed in powerlifting and currently own The Pound Gym in Pilot Point.
As a freshman, however, Rodriguez “bombed out,” or failed to complete his attempted lift, at regionals and failed to qualify for state.
“I was too nervous of the weight and that got in my head,” Rodriguez said. “I got heartbroken because it was my freshman year and everybody said I could have gone to state.”
He overcame last year’s loss and secured a place at the state meet by placing second in his weight class at the regional meet in Saginaw earlier this month.
“I’m glad I made it,” Rodriguez said. “I just gotta keep working. I worked all summer. I worked throughout powerlifting season. I worked my butt off with my coaches, my brothers and teammates. I’m glad I have my teammates with me to push me and motivate me.”