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Top team prize goes to talented local lifters

Sam Pecktol has circled the weight rack enough times to know when he's met his match.

Medford's 46-year-old weight-lifting guru has won enough national and world power-lifting titles and seen enough sweating hulks to know who's who in the bench press and deadlift spheres.

So when Pecktol took a team from Superior Gym and Fitness to Reno, Nev., last weekend for the World Association of Bench Press and Deadlift championships at the Nugget Casino, he wouldn't have plucked down a dime on his team's chances.

I didn't think we were going any place at all, Pecktol admits.

It wasn't that Superior didn't have some powerful folks, rather it was what those hefty squads from Texas and Brazil brought to the platform.

Those other guys looked big, Pecktol says. They had guys benching over 700 pounds, three deadlifters over 800 and we had a lot of teenagers.

But when one of those monsters of the deadlift from Texas bombed out trying to hoist 800 pounds, it left Pecktol's contingent in a superior position.

Twelve lifters factored into the scoring for the 18 teams with the top four performers in each category earning points (20 for first, 16 for second, 12 for third and 8 for fourth).

The way the events progressed, Superior's fate rode on the shoulders of Jacksonville teenager Mike Enloe.

The South Medford High freshmen's flight was the last of the day. He needed to finish at least second in both events for the Superior team to walk off a winner.

Enloe, competing in the 148-pound class for 13-to-15-year-olds, pulled 315 pounds in the deadlift and 176 in the bench press to give Superior 228 points, two more than Team Texas? 226. Brazil was third with 222.

I knew Team Texas had been taking a lot of first places and it was going to be close, Pecktol says. There was a guy from California that was going to take first, but Mike came through.

He was disappointed with second, but I told him, ?Don't you dare be disappointed. You put our team over the top.?

The championship began four years ago as an individual event in Portland with 300 competitors. There were 700 entrants competing in this year's four-day event that brought teams from Brazil, Canada, Ecuador, Guatemala and a dozen states. Next year's event is scheduled in Las Vegas, Nev., and moving to Paris in 2002.

Pecktol, who competes for Power Bar, has won individual titles all four years. He finished first in the master's (40-46) division in the 275-308-pound weight class. He deadlifted 700 pounds

Eagle Point High freshman Nick Heppner, who twice set world records last summer in his division, continued his assault on the books. Heppner is in the teen (13-15) division's 242-pound class. He topped his previous dead lift of 529 with a 535 effort.

Also in the deadlift, Erin Moore, of Medford, was first in the Junior Women (20-25), 132 class, with a 335 lift; Crater High senior Casey Guches was first in the teen (16-19) 165 class with a 463 effort; Jerry Hertager, 30, of Medford, in his first contest, lifted 655 pounds to earn best lifter in a group of 22 242-pounders.

Dean Muncey, 36, of Prineville, was first in the open superheavyweight class with a 749 lift.

In the bench press, Moore hoisted 160 for first; Doug Moulder of Shady Cove, also in his first competition, took first at 242 with a 480 effort and was named best lifter in a field of 22; Brandon Weston, a North Medford sophomore, was first in the 13-15, 275 class with a 251 press; another North sophomore, Jordan Cam, was second in the 16-19, 275-pound class with a 408 press.

Among the other local entries who didn't factor in the team scoring: Frankie Silva deadlifted 463 to win the 16-19 181-pound class with a 463 mark; Ricky Mitchell of North was second in the 16-19, 165-pound class with a deadlift of 459; Scott Hoffman was second in the 16-19, 220-pound class, benching 303; and Brian Backstrom was fourth in the juniors (20-25) 242-pound bench press with a 402 effort.

Reach reporter at 776-4483, or e-mail