By Larry Gage
Special to the PRESS
If it’s January, there must be a lot of activity in the weight room at Port Isabel High School. So I dropped by this week to see who’s there and exactly what is transpiring.
I found senior lifter Jonathan Mendoza finishing up his workout. He took the time to fill the PRESS in on how everything is going.
“I wanted to get stronger for football,” Mendoza said Monday, January 13, 2020. “As a freshman, I came in at 120 pounds. Now I’m about 185, but I’m trying to cut down.”
This is Mendoza’s third year in competitive powerlifting, competing in the 181-pound class.
Weight room workouts have been ongoing for months but now it gets serious. The first meet of the season is scheduled for January 17 at Brownsville Porter High School.
Compared to other sports, powerlifting has a rather short regular season. After the Porter meet, there are only two more meets on the schedule for both boys and girls. Then, in the second half of February, there’s a girls-only meet, at Edcouch Elsa, and a boys-only meet, at Hannah High in Brownsville.
The boys and girls regional meets will be held in March, and the state meets will follow later that month.
For this time in the season, maxing out the weights at any of the three different lifts (squat, bench, and deadlift) is not the priority. Maximum effort to lift maximum weights will come later in the season, head powerlifting coach, Johnathan Bodden, explained.
“We started the week after football ended,” Bodden said this week. “We emphasized that (for) our first couple of weeks it’s just light weight, a lot of reps, and learning how to do the lifts the right way. We’re going about 85% right now. I don’t want to max them out now, in January. The meets that really count are in March. We don’t want to “plateau” – we want to keep getting stronger come March.”
“It’s mainly about what you’re comfortable with,” Mendoza said. “You can’t always be pushing your body, as I learned my sophomore and junior years. You can’t just go heavy every day – you have to know when to stop or to keep going. It’s about knowing your own limits.”
Bodden appreciates the experience of upper class athletes like Mendoza, because they help bring the younger lifters along.
“I want to get all the rookies through it,” Mendoza said, referring to the experience of competing in front of small crowds of spectators, not to mention the panel of three judges that every lifter must perform in front of. “If it’s your first meet, you need to get the nerves out, get the experience and get through it.”
“He’s one of our leaders in here,” Bodden said of Mendoza. “He helps me train the young ones. I tell the kids this is a four-year sport. Your prime is going to be your junior and senior years, if you stay with it.”
As a senior, Mendoza knows that this is his last shot at qualifying for the state meet in Abilene, scheduled this year for March 28.
“This is when it gets serious, and I’m looking forward to a good year,” Mendoza said. “I’ve been to regionals but not the state meet. I could have done it last year but injuries kept me from doing it. I feel I can do it this year.”
Mendoza will be trying this season to improve on his personal best lifts of 490 pounds, in the squat lift; 285 pounds in the bench press; and 470 pounds in the deadlift.