BRYAN - At 5-foot-5 and 148 pounds, Sawyer Yandell can squat and deadlift the equivalent of a grizzly bear.
A first-year Blinn College – Bryan campus student from Devine, Texas, Yandell began powerlifting as a high school freshman in preparation for football season. Within a few weeks of training, he was hooked.
“It’s a mental sport. You have to believe it before you can do it,” Yandell said. “It’s also an individual sport. Whatever you put in, you’re going to get out.”
In November, Yandell competed in the Longhorn Open regional powerlifting competition at the University of Texas. Ranked third going in to the competition, Yandell placed first to qualify for the national meet.
“It was a great accomplishment,” Yandell said. “I think it really showed my mental toughness, being the underdog but coming out on top.”
Yandell competed at the USA Powerlifting Collegiate Nationals in Orlando earlier this month, where he placed seventh out of 32 competitors in his weight class.
“It was a great learning experience,” Yandell said. “I have three more years to win collegiate nationals and it was a great learning experience making the transition from high school to collegiate-level lifting.”
Yandell will compete at his second national meet in July.
Yandell said he typically trains four days per week for three hours apiece, dedicating each practice session to one specific lift: squats, bench press and deadlift. The fourth workout is reserved for cardiovascular training.
Three days before a contest, competitors spend hours doing cardiovascular training, sitting in the sauna and cutting back on water to decrease their water weight.
“It takes a toll on your body. You start to lack energy, but when it comes time for the contest, you just get in there and do it. Then you eat a whole lot afterwards,” Yandell said, laughing.
Yandell plans to transfer to Texas A&M University with aspirations of becoming a teacher and a powerlifting and football coach.
“I’ve always loved sports and I’ve always loved motivating people,” he said. “My coaches had a major impact on me growing up and I want to do the same thing for others; not just in sports but in life.”
Blinn enrolled 18,413 students this Fall and has experienced 31.1 percent growth since 2006. Founded in 1883, the College’s tuition and fees average about one-third the cost of the same classes at most four-year public universities in the state. In addition to its campuses in Brenham, Bryan, Schulenburg and Sealy, the College teaches online courses, dual credit for high school and prepares students for quick employment through its career and technical certification programs.