WATERTOWN — In January, John Tyler focused merely on achieving a state title.
Six months later, he could be targeting a world championship.
Tyler, a recently graduated Immaculate Heart Central student, said he has qualified for a spot on the USA Powerlifting team with a chance of competing in the World Open Powerlifting Championships in November in Dubai, after achieving several records at USA Powerlifting’s New York State Championships in June.
Tyler, who turned 18 on June 23, established a national record for his category (raw, age 16-17) and weight class (74 kilograms) in the bench press during the state championships June 15 at the Sport of Iron Fitness gym in Kingston, N.Y. He also set a state record in push-pull, the combined weight for his bench-press and dead lift marks, during the championships.
Tyler said he set a national mark with a bench press of 147.5 kg (325 pounds), although the national records are still being compiled and not yet available, he added. Still, the rankings on USA Powerlifting’s online database list Tyler as first in the nation in bench press in his category and weight class.
Tyler’s state push-pull mark, combining his dead lift of 227.5 kg (501 pounds) and bench press of 147.5 kg (325 pounds) for 826.8 pounds, accomplished the goal he set for himself in January, which was to win a state championship and to bench 145 kg (319 pounds).
“In January, when I went to the last competition (in Latham), I was 24 pounds away from breaking the American record,” said Tyler, now ranked No. 1 among all weight classes in the state for his age. “So I set up all my training and diet toward breaking that record.”
Tyler, who has been competing in powerlifting since age 15 and training since age 10, normally competes at 83 kg and was forced to cut about 20 pounds to lift in the 74 kg class. The 5-foot, 11-inch lifter said he weighed in at about 161 pounds for the meet.
Tyler was so determined to achieve the national record and the state title that went with it that an invitation to the national team wasn’t a thought.
“I was so focused on getting the national record, I was not expecting it,” he said.
But with a state championship and national record in his portfolio, Tyler is looking forward to training even more and bulking up to 200 pounds for his appearance on the national team. USA Powerlifting, the largest drug-free powerlifting organization in the U.S., will compete in the International Powerlifting Federation’s world championships Nov. 18-23 in the United Arab Emirates.
Meanwhile, Tyler is also looking to start college and will begin classes at the University at Buffalo in the fall, looking to major in mechanical engineering.
Tyler came to powerlifting after being forced to quit wrestling for IHC when he was diagnosed with Osgood-Schlatter Disease. The active athlete — he also participated in soccer and lacrosse throughout his high school career — has progressed in powerlifting with relatively little outside assistance. He has no regular coach.
“I run my own programs and train based on my own knowledge and experience,” he said.