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Pembroke man headed to powerlifting nationals
James Rowe powerlifting
James Rowe of Pembroke completes a deadlift during a recent USA Powerlifting competition in Alabama. - photo by Photo provided.

James Rowe of Pembroke recently dropped a lot of weight, then he turned around and picked up a lot of weight.

Rowe, 21, lost 23 pounds since April and nearly 50 pounds since December, but he hoisted a combined 1,383.4 pounds at the USA Powerlifting Border Bash in Phenix City, Alabama, last weekend.

“I felt I could compete better in a lower weight class,” he said. “I lost a little bit of strength from dropping the weight so quickly, but I’m starting to gain that back.”

Rowe’s lifts in Alabama included 507.1 pounds in the squat, 336.2 in the bench press and 540.1 in the deadlift. At 228 pounds he competed in the 205-231 weight class and came in third overall and second in his weight class. His performance qualified him for the USAPL Nationals in October.

USAPL uses a formula to determine the performances between competitors of different weight classes and is staunchly against performance enhancing drugs.

“They randomly test 10 percent of everyone at every competition plus to top finishers in each class,” Rowe said. “It’s nice to know you’re competing on level ground.”

Rowe, a 2012 Bryan County High graduate, might not have gotten involved in the sport were it not for a football injury. He had a scholarship lined up to play at LaGrange College west of Macon, but broke his wrist during the homecoming game his senior season. Surgery ended his playing days and he is about to start his senior year at Georgia Southern University.

“I lifted in high school for football, but I didn’t get into powerlifting until I was at Southern,” he said. “The wrist bothers me sometimes but I just wrap it tighter.”

The exercise science major wants to eventually teach and coach, but for now he’s focused on nationals, training more than two hours a day six days a week.

“I’ve got about 11 weeks, so I think by nationals I should be able to get between 1,450 and 1,500 pounds,” he said. 

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