By Joseph Hamrick
The Commerce Journal
Isaiah Martinez lives by a motto: “Faith and hard work can take you a long way.”
This year it took the Commerce High School senior to the top.
Martinez won the state UIL Powerlifting Championship in his 198 pound division in Abilene on March 21 with a combined lift of 1,635 pounds.
Martinez bench pressed 405, deadlifted 540 and broke the state record by 20 pounds by squatting an impressive 690 pounds on his way to becoming champion.
“It felt good because I got third last year,” he said, adding when he got home after coming in third, he began preparing for the next competition a little unorthodox by making a place on his wall for a first place prize and began to talk to it. “I said you’re going to be gold. I think I scared my neighbors next door.”
Martinez said he found his strength to train through reading verses in the Bible, one in particular.
“I always read Philippians 4:13 ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’” he said. “It isn’t me, it’s God in me.”
After advancing from the regional meet, Martinez knew what he lifted there would not win him state, so he began training even harder.
“I knew I could have done more,” he said, adding his coach had him work to build his core strength. “The same day I made it home I got on my perfect pushups and did 100 pushups every day.”
To help build the strength he needed, Martinez began doing what was called “dead squat” where he would squat down on a bench and explode up out of the squat when told by his coach.
Martinez said the extra training paid off.
“As soon as I stepped into the arena, I knew I had it in me,” he said. “I had a peace.”
Martinez said he is a testament to his motto of faith and hard work.
“If I can do it, anyone can,” he said.
Martinez looks forward to pursuing a degree in criminal justice, and is currently deciding whether to go to West Texas A&M and Texas A&M University-Commerce.
He said his family is pushing for him to attend A&M-Commerce but he is still “praying about it.”
Martinez said it has been his goal from his youth to be in law enforcement, and he can also complete another milestone upon graduating.
“Whenever I was young I wanted to be a cop,” he said. “I’m not the first in my family to go to college, but I want to be the first to finish.”