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Linebacker reaps competitive weightlifting benefits
tommy perea
Tommy Perea

Tower News 

 A crowd is eagerly looking for a winner. Rivals and competitors in line, each waiting for their turn. Yet, the number of weights, bars, and benches seem to outnumber the people.  

Our strong man is next, and it’s time to show them how it’s done. 






A glance around, judges and spotters on each side. The audience counting plates, fixated on the amount of weight the competitor is about to endure.  Within seconds, a successful press by Tommy Perea, a new record added to his achievements. 

Perea is a junior at Manteca High School, and he has set three national records and six state records in weightlifting for his age category. The weight from his three primary lifts exceeds 1,100 pounds. On a campus teeming with nearly 2,000 students, Perea might be the strongest person on campus, pound for pound. 

It was not always like this, though.  

His passion for weightlifting wasn’t born overnight.  

If someone had told him years ago that in the future, he would set multiple state and national records in weightlifting, he wouldn’t have believed you.  

“I wouldn’t believe it because I didn’t know that powerlifting was an actual competition or a sport in that way,” he said, emphasizing that he never envisioned the outcomes that could from it or that he’ll never forget the thrill knowing your hard work pays off when you receive a first-place medal. 

Weightlifting is about more than just setting records. His passion has allowed him to transform into a better person both physically and mentally, and on the football field, it’s allowed him to take his game to the next level. As a starting linebacker on the Manteca High varsity football team, Perea chases the ball with greater stamina and strength. In a blowout win at Cosumnes Oaks of Elk Grove, Perea met a receiver running at full speed in the middle of the field and stopped him in his tracks.  

Game film shows Perea barely moved on the play. He was a wall. 

“He’s one of the stronger kids I’ve had the pleasure to coach, and it shows,” Manteca High footall coach Mark Varnum said. “His explosiveness, his athleticism and you know when he hits somebody, they definitely feel it.”

 Through the first three games, Perea ranks among the team leaders in tackles with 23.  

“It has translated to when I take on blocks as a linebacker,” Perea said. “I take on bigger linemen, pushing them off, and just getting off a block. It has really helped me with that in football; just get my lower legs better and stronger.” 

With a personal record of 325 pounds benching, 425 pounds squatting, and 455 pounds deadlifting, Perea has modified his diet in order to keep his strength. He cut out McDonalds and Chick-Fil-A, and other fast-food visits.  

“I had to quit eating bad,” he said. “I always went out, so I had to stop getting food all the time. … What I ate for dinner, I would eat it again for lunch and dinner and add chicken, rice, and vegetables.” 

Thanks to weightlifting, Perea has discovered a new branch of support he never thought of having. He’s also discovered a new level of confidence. 

“I started noticing that weightlifting brought in a lot more people that are supportive,” he said. “The support means a lot. It means that people are on my side, they want to see me grow as a person (and) succeed and I appreciate it. 

“It really made me enjoy who I was, after I started seeing more progress, seeing me gain more muscle, lose more fat, get faster and stronger.” 

Manteca High students Ty Flores and Alyssa Fuentes contributed to this report.