BILENE – 10.03 seconds.
That was all that elapsed from the time Cesar Herrera put both hands on the bar for his ninth and final lift of the 2016 DIII Texas High School Powerlifting State Championships to the time that all three white lights lit up.
But those 10.03 seconds felt like minutes as everyone not named Cesar Herrera stood holding his or her collective breaths.
The 148-pound Glen Rose senior knew before departing for Abilene that a shot at a state title was going to come down to the deadlift. So, naturally, he used his final lift as a Tiger to set one final school record and forever etch “State Champion” beside his name.
Sitting in first place and having already tied his two-lift school-record set during the Regional meet, Herrera easily surpassed his 440-pound deadlift in Waco on the first of his last three lifts. He then made 475 pounds look easy on his second deadlift and put the pressure squarely on the field of competitors.
With a chance to seal the state title, last year’s fifth-place finisher wanted to make certain he was not left off the top of the podium again. Five hundred pounds and 10.03 seconds later, Herrera became Glen Rose’s first powerlifting State Champion since Jared Thames went back to back in 2012 and ’13 in the 275-pound class.
“The most I had ever lifted [on deadlift] was 480 pounds, so this was a big jump, but I had to make sure I secured [the win],” Herrera said of his title-clinching lift. “I was focused. Just knowing that it was my last attempt ever in high school, all of the adrenaline and focus just kind of built up. So many things were coming through my head right before the lift, though. All of the attempts I have made and all of hard work that I have put in to get here, and it all just helped me to pull it off.”
“Jared Thames gave me some great advice [before the meet],” Herrera continued. “He told me that it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks, because it’s you that has to lift the bar and not them. He also said that it doesn’t matter if you have ever gotten the weight before. I thought about it right before I went and it definitely helped me out.”
For Herrera to get to the point where one lift could potentially decide his fate was not easy. The senior had to battle himself, as well as his competitors.
Herrera started Saturday morning a little shaky on the squat rack. He struggled with 500 pounds on his second lift after easily getting 475 in his first attempt. It was then he, not coach Terry Harlin or Brandon Greenhaw, who made the call to jump to 515 pounds for his third lift.
“I knew that if I would have only of gotten 500 [pounds] that it wouldn’t be good enough,” Herrera said. “I wasn’t for sure what I was going to be able to pull on deadlift, because some days you have good days and some days you can’t pull as much. I knew that it was going to be the difference between maybe being the state champion or the first loser. So I just went for it.”
Coach Harlin, who Herrera credited with much of his development after the Regional meet, was practically beaming with pride after the final lift of the state championships.
“This is the perfect example of hard work paying off,” Harlin said. “He has lived in the weight room and works out two or three times a day whether I tell him to or not. It all paid off in the ultimate fashion today.”
“We started off, especially on bench and squat, with some adversity. His opening bench and squat he looked a little shaky and we weren’t sure if he was going to be able to go up in weight or not, but he did on both and matched his PRs. They weren’t easy lifts, either. He had to fight on the end in all of his lifts. He had an off day on deadlift at Regionals and today that was what won it for him. It’s just an awesome accomplishment and I’m proud of him.”
Herrera now holds all Glen Rose powerlifting records for the 148-pound class after his 1,295-pound state title total. He tied his previous school records in the bench press (280 pounds) and squat (525 pounds) and set a new high in deadlift (500 pounds) en route to a sixth-place team finish in Saturday’s THSPA State Championships.
Yes, that was read correctly – first in his class and sixth as a team. Hail, Cesar!