Monster Matt

As Florida State's <b>David Castillo</b> made his way towards the parking lot after Wednesday's conditioning session, he looked towards teammate <b>Matt Meinrod </b> and with a smirk called him "the world's strongest man." Click here for an update as the Seminoles offensive line looks to help pave the way this season.

It was a fitting title for Matt Meinrod, who captured the Seminoles' pound-for-pound strength title after benching 485 pounds, lifting a school-record 431 pounds in the hang clean, and squatting 580 pounds.

"That's been a goal since I stepped on campus," Meinrod said.

"That's one of the biggest individual goals I can set for myself and I finally I achieved it. So, it's right up there with any other honor I've had in my life."

Meinrod edged out bullback B.J. Dean and defending champion Lorenzo Booker, last year's top performer in the strength index.

"Those guys (Booker and Dean), to do what they do is really impressive," Meinrod said.

"Booker squatted about 450 pounds and that's two and a half times his body weight, almost. Then B.J. (Dean) had an all-around good effort." Booker's surprise effort in 2003, when he bested Meinrod, was part of the motivation that got "Monster Matt" to push himself harder in the off-season, in hopes of taking the crown.

The friendly rivalry carried itself into the weight room when the two squared off Tuesday.

"It was real heated," Meinrod said about the competition.

"(Booker) didn't want to lose it, and I didn't want to lose it. I talked a little trash, so I had to back it up or otherwise I would get smeared. But I backed it up and that's important. It's not something I set my mind to last week. I've been working for it for eight years."

It was hard work that more than paid off for Meinrod. The title has given him a stronger desire to keep pushing himself and his strongman-esqe feat has become a rallying point for the rest of the offensive line.

"We were definitely pulling for Meinrod," center David Castillo said.

"We all like Booker, he works very hard and he's a great teammate so we want him to do well, but when you think of strength you always think of offensive linemen, that's what we're known for."

Castillo, who has spent the better part of the past year nursing an injury suffered early in the 2003 season, finished second in the squat portion of the strength competition, putting up 621 pounds.

"Two years ago before I injured my foot I squatted 658," Castillo said.

"I broke my foot in the second game of the season and was unable to squat for eight month. To still be over 600 pounds after taking eight months off the squat, it's a good accomplishment." Castillo's effort on the practice field during conditioning, alongside the performance of the rest of the offensive line, has impressed strength and conditioning coach Jon Jost, who is optimistic about the line's potential in the upcoming season.

"There's no question that we need them to be leaders and have a good season for the team to do well," Jost said.

"The leadership that Ray Willis and David Castillo have shown, and Matt Meinrod and a lot of the older guys have done a very good job. But it's not just the offensive line, because there's been about 80 people out here that have been doing a good job."

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