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Pablo Troop ’22 lifts himself to new level

 

An energy surge overcame sophomore Pablo Troop every time he took the platform, channeling his inner Dragon in his red and black singlet at the 2021 USA Powerlifting Mass Barbell Winter Classic. Troop recorded a squat at 275 lbs., bench press at 209 lbs., and deadlift at 418 lbs. He placed first in his weight class and age group on the day.

For Troop, it was a gradual love of powerlifting and the natural next step was to start competing. Although he played competitive tennis, there was more passion when he stepped on the platform to lift. Troop found the self motivation in the sport to continue to pull higher weight and get better. “I enjoy myself when I’m lifting,” he said. “I just like that feeling and I want to chase it.”

Troop comes from Houston, Texas, where powerlifting as a sport wasn’t dominant, but still practiced as a hobby. His family was shocked by his decision to pursue powerlifting, but he said they are supportive of his passion and provided him with the necessary equipment. 

In preparation for the event and the journey that is competitive weightlifting, Troop was coached by St. George’s English teacher and Director of Strength and Conditioning Derry Mason. This was the first event for the duo, but Mason recalled the instant sense of belonging and comradery of the coaches and competitors. Troop felt some pressure before the event to chase the national records for his weight class and age, but he was confident in his position well above the state records when the event was done.

The strength and conditioning program at St. George’s School is offered as an afternoon activity, where Troop was able to do general preparedness training combined with the competition's movements outside of the programming. “The closer we got to his competition date, the more we shifted his training,” Mason said. “We used the strength and conditioning training to supplement his preparation.”

Last year Mason recognized that Troop began to make strides in his training and the conversation about competitive weightlifting began. What started out as a fairly common technique for the deadlift was reworked into a more traditional technique where the gains were noticeable. “He made sure I stayed on track,” Troop said of Mason. “Made sure I signed up for my meets, prepped, and made sure I knew how to do all of the lifts to the standards of the competition.”

Each lift requires a different approach and Troop said that focus remains a top priority. As he squats, the focus is geared towards his breathing techniques while grip setup is the key to his bench press. The deadlift, Troop admittedly said, “I like to think about something else and distract myself … and it works for me.”

Mason recognized Troop’s full commitment to anything that was put on the agenda for the program and performed it to the best of his ability, whatever the load, speed or volume. Despite his more quiet demeanor, Mason said Troop is a model figure in the community with the tone and pace he sets each day. 

On the platform the day of the Mass Barbell Winter Classic, Mason took on a supportive and mental coaching role. “I saw my job as helping Pablo do his job,” he said. Simple things like making sure he was in the right place at the right time for weigh-ins and eating enough food and drinking enough water. The mental aspect was equally important, Mason added, “Making sure he didn’t get in his head too much … helping him warm up with spotting and mobility.”

While the speakers blared and played one song after another, “Back In Black” by ACDC was the song that topped the rest that afternoon of the competition. However, “Don’t Fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult is Troop’s go-to song that he would never skip. Troop dedicated an entire playlist filled with rock 'n' roll music named “Lifting” for his training. “Not the most intellectual name for a playlist,” he said laughing.

Pablo Troop deadlifting

Troop is most proud of the 418 lb. deadlift he completed at  the Winter Classic, despite it being 35 lb. below his personal record. “It moved well and felt great, especially since it was the last lift,” he said. “I just find it so much fun to be able to do a crazy amount of weight.” Despite the competitive nature of the event, Troop noted that there was a great sense of comradery from the group of participants and spectators.

The road ahead is long, but Troop has the mindset to slowly build for the years to come. Mason proclaimed that he has a great amount of possibility ahead of him at the rate he is progressing.

“If Pablo continues to perform the way he has been, I see more personal records, more competition victories, and more state records in his future,” Mason said.

Next on the competition calendar is the 2022 USA Powerlifting Teen and High School Nationals in Chicago on March 23, 2022.