By Marin Murray.

Eight hundred forty-five pounds is one-fifth of a rhinoceros’ weight. It’s also about 1,000 times the weight of a can of soup.

 Junior Paul Nguyen lifted exactly that much weight in his first time at the state powerlifting meet on March 25-26, where he placed 20th in his division and 39th overall in the state in his division.

 “Paul just works hard,” powerlifting head coach Tommy Martinez said. “He’s the first one in the weight room and the last one out of the weight room. He just works hard everyday.”

Paul was the only Eagle to advance to the state meet after a second place finish at regionals, carrying on an Abilene High powerlifting tradition.

 “It’s always neat to get a kid to state,” Martinez said. “I’ve been the powerlifting coach since 2005, and way before I was the powerlifting coach we’ve gotten at least one kid to state every year. So it’s a big deal for our program and a big deal for that kid every year.”

Paul was introduced to the sport during his sophomore year by his friend and football teammate, Rowdy Hester, who was already a member of the team.

 “I got into powerlifting through my friend Rowdy Hester,” Paul explained. “He’s just a friend of mine who I met in football, and he said I should join powerlifting, so I figured I would.”

Paul has seen major improvements, even though he has only been participating in powerlifting for a little less than two years.

“I got way stronger than I was at the beginning of the year, by over 100 pounds, which was my goal,” Paul said. “Last year, the total for all of my lifts was about 640 pounds and then this year it’s 845.”

Despite all he has accomplished this year, Paul has his sights set on bigger, better, and much heavier weights.

“I think this year, now that I’ve gotten to see who my actual state competitors are, I can see the goal that I can aim for next year,” Paul said. “I have to aim for 500 pounds on both squat and deadlift, because I got to see where everyone else is. If I want to place, I’ve seen what I need to reach for.”

Even though the powerlifting program is an extension of the football program, according to Coach Martiez, Paul hopes he can find a future in this sport.

“Hopefully I can get a scholarship for powerlifting to the college I want to go to, which is Army West Point,” Paul said. “If I could get a powerlifting scholarship there, that would be really nice.”