LHSAA State Powerlifting Meet Set to Begin Wednesday

by William Weathers // Contributor

Nearly a decade ago Joe Ryan recalls attending the state high school powerlifting meet at Pope John Paul High School in Slidell.

Ryan’s involvement with the sport has increased during that time, including the fourth in a five-year term as president of the Louisiana High School Powerlifting Coaches Association, and so has a massive growth spurt for the sport whose signature event has outgrown high school facilities.

When the LHSAA conducts its four-day state powerlifting championships – crowning 10 team state champions – the organization will do so from the comforts of the Lafayette Cajundome.

Action begins at 10 a.m. Wednesday with the Division IV (Class 1A) and Division V (Classes B-C) boys taking centerstage followed by the Division IV-V girls on Thursday. Admission is $20 per day.

The larger schools take their place over the final two days with Division I (Class 5A), Division II (Class 4A) and Division III (Class 3A) girls competing on Friday followed by the boys on Saturday.

“It’s the fastest growing sport in Louisiana,” said Alexandria Senior High boys/girls coach Duane Urbina, the meet’s director.

Urbina said there will be 200 teams competing in the 10 different divisions with more than 1,100 lifters and in excess of 3,700 spectators.

“When I first started, we had 76 schools in the state,” said Ryan, the boys/girls powerlifting coach at Denham Springs High School. “Now we’re over 200.”

The Louisiana State Powerlifting Association conducted its own state championships for 31 years until 2014 when it became officially recognized by the LHSAA, making this year the 41st annual event.

Another sign of the sport’s substantial growth were the 2,452 athletes that recently participated in six regionals around the state to qualify for the state meet.

In order to advance, lifters must finish in the top 10 in their respective weight classes in their respective division.

“There were years you could barely have enough 97-pound girls in the 1-2A divisions,” Ryan said. “Now they have girls that don’t even make it.”

The Cajundome, the host of the 2025 event, continues the sport’s trend toward larger arenas since UL-Monroe’s Fant-Ewing Coliseum first hosted in 2015-16-17 followed by a two-year run at the Rapides Parish Coliseum in Alexandria. The meet returned to ULM for 2021-22 before moving to the Cajundome.

“That legitimized it a little bit more,” Ryan said. “People take it a little more serious in the sense you’re not just at a high school. Here’s an actual arena they can go to where collegiate athletes compete. (Country music artist) Zach Bryan played at Rapides Parish Coliseum. Our kids have had the opportunity to lift on that same floor.”

Seven returning state champions headline the list of teams with the hope of repeating.

Start with the Lutcher girls in Division II and their impressive stretch of 16 consecutive state championships. The Bulldogs have six of the top performances in their respective weight classes from regionals led by last year’s Outstanding Lifters – Jayla Johnson (725 combined pounds lifted) and Daige Love (1,300 combined pounds lifted) in regional competition.

Tioga, with two of the top regional performances, and Leesville are also expected to provide competition along with Grant.

The Port Allen girls in Division III are riding a stretch of 10 straight state titles and have two of the top-rated lifters in Jaylnn Netter, winner of the Outstanding Lifter in last year’s meet, and Isabella Newchurch. Church Point will be in the mix to push Port Allen along with Buckeye, Abbeville and Jena, the last three teams with two top-rated lifters in their weight classes.

Church Point’s boys have won the past two Division III state championships and with five top-rated lifters in their weight classes, the Bears could make it three straight with competition from Abbeville and Buckeye.

Church Point’s Demarcus Bellard (114), Chad Brooks (165), Wyatt Daigle (242), Gavin Benoit (275) and Braxton Meche (super heavyweight) all won their region and have the top performances in their weight classes.

Ascension Catholic of Donaldsonville has won back-to-back Division V state titles in both competition but will be pressed by Cedar Creek of Ruston to make it a three-peat.

Cedar Creek leads the way with four No. 1 performers led by Lawson Lillo (181), Carter Lewis (198), Brett Johnson (220), Landon Amidon (242) and Kaden Williams (super heavyweight) leading the way.

With five of the top-rated performances, Cedar Creek’s girls are the odds-on favorite to repeat as champions in Division V followed by Sacred Heart of Ville Platte and Holden.

Last year’s Outstanding Lifter Lauren Enterkin is back to lead Cedar Creek and has the top performance at 165 pounds. Alli Claire (97), Ainsley Riley (148), Ashlyn Brown (181) and Gia Fernandez (198) also atop their respective weight classes.

For the first time in school history the boys of St. Michael the Archangel of Baton Rouge broke through with its first Division II state crown. Lutcher and Archbishop Hannan are two schools to keep an eye on in the title chase.

Sammy Tramonte is the No. 1 lifter at 114 pounds, while the Warriors have the Nos. 2 lifters in Andy Thai (165), Grayson Boudreaux (185) and Peyton Scott (220).

West Monroe’s girls return to defend its Division I championship and Woodlawn of Baton Rouge is a prime contender to unseat the Rebels.

Woodlawn has two of the No. 1 lifters entered in Katelyn Reed (98 pounds) and Jadyn Barner (114), while West Monroe counters with Alora Walker (132), Addyson Caskey (181) and Kamaria Evans (220), who all bring in the top-rated lifts in their weight classes.

With three of the top lifters in the Division I boys’ competition, Dutchtown may have the inside track in a competitive field which is also includes West Monroe, Denham Springs, Covington and Catholic High of Baton Rouge.

The Griffins have three of the top lifters in the division in Joshua Thompson (132), Xavier Smith (242) and Zyan Tremont (super heavyweight).

Many and Episcopal of Baton Rouge are expected to be the top contenders in the Division IV boys race with the two schools bringing two of the meet’s No. 1 lifters in their weight classes. Northlake Christian, with four No. 1 lifters, is another team to keep an eye on and Pope John Paul.

Demaris Woods (114) and Jeremiah Williams (123) top Many’s entrants, while Episcopal has last year’s Outstanding Lifter Reid Chauvin back and has the top performance at 181 pounds, along with Carson Furniss at 148.

D’Arbonne Woods Charter of Farmerville, Episcopal and Northlake Christian will carry the spotlight in the race for the Division IV girls’ title.

Northlake Christian leads the way with six top-rated performers in Caroline Lagarde (105), Eliana Trevino (132), Hannah Williams (165), Taylor Durham (181), Dorothy Wharthan (198) and Emelia Dautrieve (220). D’Arbonne Woods is next with three No. 1 lifters in Karsyn Kelly (97), Lylah Jones (114) and Mia Albritton (148).

“The kids are excited to go,” Ryan said. “I know three of my 17 lifters that went there last year, you warn them but you walk in and you kind of have your breath taken away by how big the arena is.”