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Merilles breaks deadlift record in first meet
LIFT--Merriles pic
Mason Merilles deadlifts 601 pounds for new state and national records Saturday in the Sierra Nevada Cup held in Grass Valley. Also pictured is local powerlifter Kyle Alexander, serving as both spotter and coach for Merilles. - photo by Photo Contributed

There are two things Mason Merilles loves:

“Philosophy and lifting heaving things,” as he put it.

The latter has prompted a change in his future plans.

A former philosophy major, the 2013 Sierra High graduate has joined fellow former Timberwolves Kyle Alexander and Ike Gutierrez in the competitive powerlifting ranks, and like the others he made a splash in his first-ever meet.

This past Saturday, Merilles competed in the Sierra Nevada Cup hosted by the Ironworks Athletic Club in Grass Valley. There, he set a new state and national record in his division (18-19-year-old, 242 pounds) with a 601-pound deadlift. He also benched 330 pounds and squatted 523 for a total of 1,456.14, which earned him the event’s Best Lifter Award and a spot in the International Powerlifting League Worlds.

“I was pretty nervous,” Merilles said. “It’s my first meet, something I’ve never done before. Being in front of a lot of people, it’s a completely different type of adrenaline rush. It’s just you and the bar. It’s a different feeling lifting something up and people are right in front of you cheering for you.”

It was Alexander who encouraged Merilles to start powerlifting. About three months ago, Merilles, a three-sport athlete (football, wrestling, track and field) at Sierra, expressed interest in getting back to the weight room and was invited by Alexander.

Getting the competitive juices flowing again allured him to the sport and another major. Merilles is a Modesto Junior College student studying sports medicine and aims to major in kinesiology at a four-year university down the road.

“Powerlifting is what made me want to change my major,” he said. “Now, I want to be a trainer for a professional sports team.”

Alexander himself is a record holder in the 18-19, 220-pound division and will join Merilles on Nov. 8 at the Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino to compete in the IPL Worlds. He serves as Merilles coach and was his spotter in Saturday’s meet.

“I just booked the hotel (Tuesday) and got plane tickets,” Merilles said. “Kyle is going to be competing on Saturday and I’m going on Sunday, so we get to coach each other each day.”