Photo by Quinn Welsch/The West Side Journal
Jermyrie Mitchell, then weighing only 114 lbs., pushes through a 300 lb. squat during the girls powerlifting training at Port Allen High School last year. She is spotted by Lakeisha Wheeler.
“The numbers are a little low, but with what we’ve got, I think we have a good shot at winning it.”
A different crop of competitors in a lower classification await the Port Allen girls powerlifting team, but it’s no sign that things will be any easier for the Lady Pelicans.
The move from Class 3A to 2A takes the 2017 Class 3A runner-up Lady Pelicans from perennial foes, such as Lutcher (the 2017 state champ) and Church Point, but brings them into the same fold with several powerhouse programs from the New Orleans Northshore.
Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Shaw and Runnells will pose the biggest roadblock for the Lady Pelicans, who hope to outmuscle the competition in a quest for their first state championship since 2012.
“They have tradition in the schools,” said Brian Bizette, who has coached the program since 2007. “I don’t know how many they graduated, but I lost five on my team – that’s a big hit.
“But I’m still confident we can compete for the state title,” he said. “The most important component here will be for the girls to believe in themselves.”
Before PAHS takes aim at their new Class 2A foes, the Lady Pelicans have to handle a few issues on the homefront, head coach Brian Bizette said.
“I think we have a shot, but we have some injuries right now,” he said. “The numbers are a little low, but with what we’ve got, I think we have a good shot at winning it.”
Najalyn Williams, a senior in the super heavyweight division, and Rekita Leonard, will be among the standouts in the superheavyweight competition.
Jermyrie Mitchell, in the 132-lb. division, another first-place winner in last year’s state competition. Maddie Williams also shows a lot of promise among lifters in the junior class, Bizette said.
“I have a big junior and sophomore class, but not many seniors,” he said. “But the crop of lifters I have are capable of making it to the state championship as long as they believe in themselves.”
PAHS competes at Terrebonne on Dec. 16 and travels to Denham Springs for action Jan. 6.
Bizette will also work with Port Allen football coach Don Gibson on the restart of the boys powerlifting team.
“For me, powerlifting started out as something to strengthen girls for track, and now powerlifting has taken a life of its own,” he said. “It will be a trial year for the boys, but they’re going to have to do like we did – just roll up the sleeves and get with it.”