This weekend, four area schools and the rest of Texas will descend on Abilene for the boys powerlifting state meets with hopes of lifting enough weight off their shoulders and chests to come away with the top marks.
For some, it’s about doing things their school has never done. For others, it’s doing what they have never done. And for Pilot Point senior Matt Poursoltani, it’s doing something nobody has ever done.
Poursoltani is one of four Pilot Point boys in the Division III meet. Pilot Point coach Jody Allen said the Bearcats are taking a school-record number of qualifiers.
“The big thing for them is that we’ve never carried more than two or three [state qualifiers],” Allen said. “I think three was the most, and this year we were able to get four qualified. There’s a lot of excitement in our program right now because a lot of kids are being successful.”
Ponder will have two representatives in the Division III meet, while Krum and Sanger each have a representative in the Division II state meet.
Pilot Point has finished in fourth place twice as a team, and the Bearcats have had two state champions since 2009.
Each lifter will get three bench-press attempts, three deadlift attempts and three squat attempts. It’s the same format used at meets throughout the year. The top marks in each exercise are added together for a total score.
To say Poursoltani has a strong shot at bringing home the state title in the 275-pound weight class is an understatement.
The senior made a winning bench press of 670 pounds at the regional meet to help the Bearcats finish first in the team standings. Allen said he tried to find a mark anywhere in the nation that topped Poursoltani’s but couldn’t.
“He’s the strongest high school bench presser ever in America,” Allen said. “That’s just a flat-out bold statement.”
Joining the phenom lifter at state for Pilot Point are freshman Sebastian Guerra (123 pounds), sophomore John Groff (181 pounds) and Riley Stottle (242 pounds), whom Allen said is a tremendous lifter in his own right.
Ponder finished two spots behind Pilot Point at the regional meet and will be taking senior Brennan Sooter and sophomore Chris Aivaliotis to Abilene. Ponder’s program is only four years old, and as a junior, Sooter was the first Ponder boy to make the state meet.
Sooter will attempt to set a new squat record for his 181-pound weight class.
Ponder coach Kevin Pitman said his team has been conservative throughout the year and focused on getting into the meet, and hopes Sooter and Aivaliotis hit good personal marks.
“On the other side of it is, after basically four months of lifting, they are pretty close to being topped out, so we understand that,” Pitman said. “We’re not trying to make monster jumps. We still think we have a little left in the tank.”
Krum junior Dylan Serna also will represent a program that’s only four years old. Serna finished second at the regional meet in the 148-pound class. Krum’s Exxon Pantaleon finished third at regionals, missing the state meet by about 40 pounds on his final deadlift.
To reach state, one must place in the top two at the regional meet. The top five finishers in each weight class receive medals.
“If he hits his best lifts, then he should get top five,” Krum coach Allen Oh said.
Joining Serna in the Division II meet is Sanger junior Derek Shelby. When Shelby steps up to the weight rack Saturday, his father and head coach will be right beside him, something that’s remained constant since Shelby was a toddler.
As an assistant football coach at Denison, Ronnie Shelby used to take his son’s baby carrier to the fieldhouse as he went through his own workout. When Derek reached sixth grade, Ronnie took his son to the backyard to show him how to lift properly, the foundation for Derek’s eventual run to the state meet.
“He’s been around iron his whole life,” Ronnie Shelby said.
Last year, Derek Shelby medaled at the regional meet but failed to make the top two as a sophomore. He then set a goal of reaching the state meet in 2013. He’s done that, but his father says Derek still has more to accomplish.
“He’s not just happy with going there,” Ronnie Shelby said. “He wants to try to medal. He wants to be in the top five, which is a big deal, especially in Texas. There’s going to be some strong kids there.”
The same can be said for all eight area boys this weekend, hoping to lift state medals from their necks when they return home from Abilene.
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
BOYS STATE POWERLIFTING QUALIFIERS