BELTON — The first time Devontae Moore tried to squat 600 pounds he fell and the bar hit him on his head.
He laughs about it today.
For Moore, that failed attempt was two years and numerous personal records ago, and Saturday, he continued his warmup — as his coach, Mike Bloesch, put it — for state, setting a Tiger Invitational record by squatting 750 pounds at Lake Belton Middle School.
“I knew I was going to get it,” said Moore, a senior at Temple. “Right now, all I’m working on is just beating the records to where they can’t be touched so people can still know who I am when I leave.”
Moore, also a 5-foot-11, 330-pound offensive lineman for the Wildcat football team, is well on his way to accomplishing that feat.
His squat Saturday was 25 pounds short of his personal record, which he performed at state last year, where he placed sixth. On Saturday, he also did a personal-record bench press of 500 pounds.
In a meet that included teams from Temple, Belton, Copperas Cove, Waco Midway and Georgetown, Moore was the perfect example of what entices many competitors to push themselves past painful limits to squat, bench press and dead lift unfathomable amounts of weight on a weekly basis.
“You’re competing against yourself and then you’re also competing against others,” Bloesch said. “That’s the thing I like about powerlifting is these guys almost get addicted to breaking their own records every week.”
While Bloesch said many sports, including football, softball and volleyball, treat powerlifting as an extension of the program, meets like the Tiger Invitational aren’t just typical lifting sessions.
In the bench press, for example, competitors must lift the weight off the rack, lower it to their chest and pause until an official says, ‘press.’ Once the press is complete, the competitor must hold the barbell in the air until the official says, ‘rack.’ Then and only then can they re-rack the weight.
The tedious process can make it difficult for even the strongest of lifters.
“If you’ve got dead weight just sitting on your chest you can’t bounce it off,” Moore said of the bench. “You’ve got to let it just sit there for a minute.”
But for teammate Xavier Bryant, a 5-8, 223-pound senior who also set a meet record at the time with a bench press of 400 pounds, the lifts can only be as hard as you make them.
“It’s mental,” said Bryant, who also played offensive line at Temple. “If you get under a weight and think you can do it, you can do it.”
Putting on the meet can also be a tedious process, as Belton boys coach Levi Steele can attest. When Steele wasn’t zipping around the Lake Belton gym coordinating events, he was announcing the meet schedule over the PA system or helping take down and set up racks.
“It’s just organization,” Steele said, “just keeping people going because a lot of things are involved in it between spotters, loaders, judges, volunteer workers. It takes a lot of people because the sport’s not making enough money to fund all the people that you have, so you’re trying to break even at best.
“So, you’ve got to get volunteer workers, and none of them have ever really been to a powerlifting meet, so you’re training them up on the run.”
But overall, the Invitational ran smoothly Saturday, just a bit behind schedule.
Moore, however, is right on schedule as Bloesch and his staff are hoping he is able to squat 800 pounds by the time of the state meet.
“I’m doing it next week,” Moore said with a smile. “They’re going to try to hold me back, (but) I’m doing it next week.”
If Moore is able to reach his goal of 800 pounds by state, then the state record of 830 pounds won’t be far out of reach.
But for Saturday, Moore was pleased with his performance, as were the rest of his teammates who competed Saturday.
And it didn’t hurt to leave a few Temple names at the top of the Tiger Invitational record book either.
“It feels great to know that we come to our rivals over the river and can beat them,” Bryant said.