Lifting weights is oftentimes something athletes do to prepare for other sports.
But it is a sport, a competition, all its own.
Weightlifting has been in the Olympics since the first modern games in 1896. Powerlifting specifically has not made it into the Olympics as of yet, but has been in the Paralympic and World Games for decades – the former since the 1960s, the latter since the 1980s.
The squat, the bench press and the deadlift are what comprises a powerlifting competition. Saturday, at the Hobbs High School Fieldhouse, 28 Hobbs boys lifters and seven Lady Eagles competed against a smaller but just as eager Jal contingent. Partly due to Hobbs’ greater depth, the boys beat the Panthers 60-41, while the girls topped the Lady Panthers 38-29.
The Hobbs boys had six first-place finishers: Carlos Jimenez (148-pound weight class, 800 pounds total weight lifted); Manuel Murillo (181 weight class, 920 total weight); Xavier Alvarado (198, 1,060); Humberto Cadena Jr. (220, 1,135); Kanyon Johnson (275, 910); and Oliver Hill (super heavweight, 1,020).
The Lady Eagles had four lifters take first place: Annette Rey (148 weight class, 450 total weight); Valeria Villalobos (181, 540); Lilliana Cortez (220, 575); and Chrissie Purvis (259, 615).
The Panthers had four winners: Gerardo Bustillos (114 weight class, 550 total weight); Gabe Earp (123, 550); Connor Andrae (132, 805); and Xavier Villa (308, 715).
Winning for the Lady Panthers were Isabella Kohorst (132 weight class, 260 total weight) and Caydence Rodriguez (198, 460).
“Today was kind of a down day,” Jal head coach Billy Laminack said. “We did have some kids with PRs (personal bests) on some lifts, so we were kind of up and down. I know some of the kids were a little disappointed, but I think we’re also, at this point of the season, just a little tired. Some of my lifters just started baseball. So it was an up and down day for us.
“Really all I’m looking at is where we sit in the standings as far as them as individuals,” Laminack added. “As a team I look at the points; we’re kind of in the middle of the pack. But we’ve got several kids that jumped up into 1 and 2 spots, and several at least are sitting tight in their spots, they’re sitting OK.”
For Hobbs, Saturday went well, which has been pretty much the deal all season.
“I’ve been really happy with how we’ve competed,” Eagles head coach Deloyed Landreth said. “I thought we did really well in the first competition in January. We’ve got a few kids that are sitting in the top five positions. Humberto Cadena is sitting in the No. 1 position in his weight division so far, and then we have two or three other ones that are sitting in the top five positions. More than anything, I was happy that my numbers increased so we had more boys actually compete because our numbers increased. … Overall the boys just really, really competed strongly, so I was very, very happy with what we saw today.
“We had a couple of new girls, about three or four of them,” Landreth added. “Two of them – Lilliana Cortez, she put up some really great numbers as a freshman today; and Valeria Villalobos, same thing, new girl, first time competing, and her numbers were really strong today as a sophomore. Chrissie Purvis, she increased her lifts this week, too, so that was good growth for her.”
The Lady Eagles’ efforts seemed extra impressive, considering their relatively low numbers compared to the boys team.
“The girls numbers are actually down in a lot of sports this year,” Landreth said. “And, powerlifting is probably not a girl’s first choice, but I feel we’ve got a pretty strong foundation of where we’re headed with it. And I could definitely see the numbers increasing with our girls program over the next couple of years. We’re in a very early phase of this whole process, but I’m happy with it because the ones that are here, they’re competing very well.”
Something that powerlifting coaches can usually count on from their athletes is dedication.
“My kids that are continuing to improve every week and every meet, they’re making sure that they’re at the 6 a.m. workouts nearly every day,” Laminack said. “They are just really pushing themselves in the weight room, they enjoy being in the weight room, and they stick to the workout plan that I designed for them. The mindset, it is kind of individualistic; you are trying to win state for the team once you go to state, but that also depends on the work that you’re putting in every day, just kind of grinding through. The hardest working kids in the school are what you end up with for powerlifting.”
“Football players make great powerlifters because they’re a little more aggressive,” Landreth said. “I also find that girls soccer players have a tendency to lean more toward powerlifting. But in my personal opinion, powerlifting is a mindset kind of unique to the kid. There are just some kids that like that challenge, that strenuous challenge. Powerlifting is not easy, getting underneath the bar with an X amount of weight that not only feels painful just to hold or to be on your shoulders, but then to complete the movements and do it with a very strict set of eyes and parameters, it takes a special-minded kid. I think it’s just kids that are overall really competitive within themselves, they have a very strong self drive.”