After lifting for four years, the three seniors who qualified for the state finals in mens powerlifting finished strong in Abilene on Saturday. Husky Melendez (275lb weight class) finished sixth overall, Derek Baynes (242lb weight class) finished ninth overall, and Steven Blankenship (181lb weight class) finished tenth overall.

All three are four year starters on the Graham mens powerlifting team and have fought through injuries, weight fluctuations and a long-running football season to come and attack the bar and complete their senior season on top. Coach Merrett was proud of his state qualifiers as well as his entire team.

“These three, along with Marcus Garza, Jase Hutchens, and Sammy Serrano are by far the best group of Seniors I have ever had. I will miss them very much,” Coach Merrett said. “We didn’t have our ‘A’ game on Saturday, but I was extremely proud of the way the boy’s competed.”

Injuries that have plagued the team for the better part of four years returned again on Saturday and contributed a few low scores. Prior to the meet, some of the GHS lifters discussed various times in the past few years in which they’ve dealt with injuries.

“My freshman year I had a hurt back and I didn’t even place or do that well,” Blankenship said. “My sophomore year I hurt another part of my back and didn’t do that well either, and my junior year I made it to regionals but my squat wasn’t low enough, thus I didn’t make it to state.”

Read the entire story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.