Big loser could be big powerlifting winner

Powerlifter Jacob Sanders at the Lago Vista Invitational where he was trying to qualify for the regional meet in the 275 pound weight class. (Dana Delgado Photo)

Powerlifter Jacob Sanders at the Lago Vista Invitational where he was trying to qualify for the regional meet in the 275 pound weight class. (Dana Delgado Photo)

By Dana Delgado

Losing 20 pounds has not been an easy task for Jacob Sanders.

Fact is, it has been darn tough for the 6’ 2 ½” hulking athlete who has thoughts of becoming an athletic “beast.” However, losing 20 pounds could mean the difference between possibly competing at the state powerlifting championships and staying home.

The junior Liberty Hill High School varsity powerlifter has had to forego his usual diet of two steaks, potatoes and a salad for a daily intake of strictly lettuce and chicken for the past 30 days. Sanders was valiantly trying to slim down to 275 pounds by last Saturday so he could compete in that weight class at the Lago Vista Tournament, the final regular tournament of the year and his final opportunity to qualify for the regional event at that weight class and improve his chances to advance to state.

LHHS powerlifting Coach Robert Draper says Sanders is a mighty strong contender.

Failing to meet his weight goal would put the junior powerlifter in the super heavyweight division, a much more competitive division for which he has already qualified for the regional meet.

A determined Sanders reached his weight goal last week and maintained it so he could compete in the 275 pound division last weekend.

Sanders placed second in the Lago Vista Invitational with total weight lift of 1,365 pounds. Whether that was enough to qualify will not be determined until next week, said Coach Draper. Meanwhile, Sanders will remain on a diet to maintain his weight.

“It wasn’t easy dieting,” he said. “But I love powerlifting and being in the weight room.  I got into it for football and I’ve stayed.”

Sanders first got into powerlifting as a freshman when he weighed 263 pounds. Last year as a sophomore, he says he struggled with bench pressing, which has been a major focus this year.

The junior says he owes a lot of gratitude to Coach Draper who not only coaches him in powerlifting but also football.

“Coach Draper has stuck with me, worked with me and has always believed in me,” he said. “He’s more intense but is a nice person and means the best for me.”

While his goal is to advance to the state event, the junior athlete’s strengthening and conditioning served him well on the football field where he was named this past season to the First Team All-District Offensive Team and savored a hard-fought win over archrival Burnet.

“I’m looking forward to next season and another successful year,” Sanders said. “But I’d also love to play football in college and will be participating in combines this summer and attend football camps at the University of Texas at San Antonio and Texas State University.”

Sanders says he would like to go to Baylor University because he used to live in Waco and loves the campus. He is, however, willing to consider any Division 1 college that is interested in him to play football. He’s been playing football since seventh grade and has also competed in track as a shot putter.

When not in the weight room or on the football field, Sanders relishes his time outdoors, hunting and fishing.

“Being outdoors really gets my adrenalin going,” he said.

He took his first deer at age nine, but got the surprise of his hunting life in sixth grade while on a doe hunt.

“It seemed like an exotic and I shot it,” he recalls. “It was like a ram and turned out to be the second biggest one ever shot in the state. It’s mounted and hanging in my room.”

Sanders says he enjoys his hunting trips to Brackettville in South Texas, but would really like to hunt mountain goats in New Zealand someday.  His weapon of choice is his 257 Weatherby with a 30-30 open sight.

The athlete also enjoys attending the San Antonio Spurs professional basketball games and says he plans to obtain a law degree to become a sports agent.