By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

 GRAPELAND – A host of various athletes have signed with a variety of different colleges and universities to take their athletic prowess to the next level. Over the past 12 months, the Anderson/Houston County areas have seen athletes in football, baseball, track, softball, volleyball and basketball all sign National Letters of Intent to continue their athletic endeavors after high school.

We can now add power lifting to the mix as Grapeland High School’s Cameron Riess signed with the Sam Houston State University Bearkats on Thursday, March 2 to continue in his sport at the collegiate level.

After Riess had inked his commitment letter to SHSU, he spoke about what this means to him.

“I’m happy to be able to still compete after high school with a team and for a school. It feels better to be a part of a team,” he said.

“At first, I wanted to go to a bigger school but when I went to Sam Houston on a visit I really liked the school and I like the town of Huntsville. I’m just really happy that I have this opportunity,” Riess said.

When asked how he became involved with powerlifting, the newly signed Bearkat said his interest in the sport developed while he was working out for football.

“I was working out pretty hard for football but I got a little tired of that because I’m not very tall. I asked myself what sports could I be good at standing only 5’6”? In basketball, baseball and football, it helps to be tall, but powerlifting is one of the only sports where you can be shorter than 6’ and be successful,” he said.

He explained his belief that his lack of height was a disadvantage in other sports but worked in his favor in powerlifting.”

Riess also has a family lineage in the sport of powerlifting as his sister, Julie, and his dad, Barrett, were also successful powerlifters in high school.

“It’s like a family thing. It’s genetic. We’re just built for the sport,” he said with a laugh.

Riess is currently ranked first in the 181 pound weight class in Division 3 and is fourth overall in the state of Texas throughout all divisions with a total of 1490 pounds lifted. His total is comprised of 600 pounds in the squat, 385 pounds on the bench press and 505 pounds in the dead lift.

To be successful at the next level, Riess said he had a tremendous amount of work ahead of him.

“To be successful, I need to get to around a 1,700 pound lift. Without equipment, no shirt, squat suit or wraps, I need to hit the 1,700 pound mark. Honestly, I still have a lot of work to do,” he said.

As he prepares for the upcoming regional meet in Elkhart later this month, Riess indicated he was gunning for the regional record of 1,535.

“I’m pretty sure I can get that on a perfect day,” he said.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.