How do you keep a trio of lifters motivated at state? Promise them big steaks.
Don’t laugh, because the food reward has gotten the Sulphur Springs lifters all the way to the state finals in Abilene.
The carrot hanging on the end of the stick is not a carrot at all, it’s a big hunk of beef.
“Steaks, big steaks, that’s been our biggest motivator,” said Rodney Flowers, Sulphur Springs powerlifting coach said with a grin.
“Food has worked to get them, gotten fired up, at regional it was Mexican food. Now at state, I have promised them steaks,” Flowers said.
The trio of lifters for Sulphur Springs includes junior Taylor Link in the 132-pound class; sophomore Joe Scott, 181-pound class and senior Jake Russell, 198-pound class.
Russell, a senior honor student, hopes to get an academic scholarship to Texas A&M University where he may walk on the football team. Right now, Russell, the leader of the group, is concentrating on lifting.
“My best lifts of year have been 525 in the squad, 530 in the deadlift and 305 on bench,” Russell said. “My best total is 1,350. I have about 17 top lifters in my class, so it will be tough competition.”
Russell has been ranked in the top two in his weight class in the region.
“This is a new experience for us to go to state, I think it will be unbelievable how good the guys are when we get to the meet,” Russell said. “We would all like to win. But if I can finish in the Top 10 and get a 1,400 total that would be great. That's my goal. Last year I was eighth at regional, then to make it this far has really been fun. This is a big honor.”
Russell, an offensive lineman on Sulphur Springs’ state championship football team said the group is still rolling off the momentum from the 16-game football season.
“We want to win and keep it going,” Russell said. “We came right out of football and winning state. Then the powerlifting team has won all it’s meets. It’s fun, we wear our state championship football T-shirts at the powerlifting meets. We get some looks and we like it.”
Link said his highest total this year has been 985. Top lifts were a squat of 380, deadlift of 375 and bench of 230 pounds.
“I have been lifting three years and to make it state has been a big goal,” Link said. “This feels really good to be lifting against the best in the state.”
Link said his lack of height has really helped in a sports often dominated by hulking athletes.
“Most people think powerlifters are big. But I am doing well because I am shorter and I don’t have to go down that far on the squat. I think my size helps me. I love lifting I want to keep doing it,” Link added.
Joe Scott, the youngest member of the team, is making his state appearance as a sophomore.
His best lifts have been a 1,305 total from a squad of 525, bench of 300 and deadlift of 485 pounds.
“It’s good to see all the hard work pay off,” Scott said. “This is really a great thing going to state.”
Coach Flowers said he has appreciated the dedication the team has shown. The three qualifiers for state spent all or part of their spring break, training for the state finals competition.
“Some lifters are just freaks and really strong. Our lifters have worked hard and I think they have a good shot to do well at state,” Flowers said. “They are all three in the top ranking for their weight divisions.”
Flowers then talked about each lifter and their attributes.
“Jake is a phenomenal athlete, he’s a smart kid and a smart lifter. He knows what he can lift and he’s technical about it. He’s a great athlete and he’ll be going up against some top lifters, but I have no doubt he will do well.”
“Joe is just a sophomore, but a very strong lifter. He jumped up 85 pounds from his top total at regional, that was something. He’s getting more confidence in what he can do and he keeps getting better. His goal was to make it to state and he did.
“Taylor was a project, now he’s a state lifter, that’s how far he has come in three years. He told me he’d be the strongest, pound-for-pound lifter we’d have and he does it. He works hard, this is the only sport he competes in, he is very dedicated to lifting.”
Flowers said he hopes to get to celebrate a state title at a steak house with the three lifters.
“Competing in state is a privilege they’ve all earned,” Flowers said. “I think the success carried over from winning state in football. They have been successful during the year, they expect first place.”
“I’ll see that they get their steaks,” Flowers added.
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