Panther powerlifters headed to state

By John Earp

Fifteen JHS athletes will travel to Lovington for the last-chance qualifying meet of the season. Eleven girls and five boys have been working hard this season to improve their performance in the three powerlifting lifts; namely, bench press, deadlift, and the squat. JHS Powerlifting Coach Billy Laminack said, “All around the state, the 30th of March is the last day you can have meets, and so next week, we’ll actually get to set who’s going to state.” Laminack said of the five boys, “They’re either protecting their spot, or they’re trying to get back into the top eight so they can go to state.” The top eight lifters from each weight class qualify for the state meet, which is A-3A. Laminack says Eunice will likely join the Panthers at the Lovington meet this Saturday.

Laminack says he has seen really good improvement in his powerlifters this year. On the girls’ side, Bianca Eddings, who is in her first year as a powerlifter, should be going to state. Coach says Ebany Aguilar has seen a huge improvement in her lifting. “She got to go to state last year, and struggled, but this year she is number one in multiple weight classes, and she has just gotten stronger as the season has gone on. You have the option if you want to declare for a weight class higher than your actual weight, so when state comes you can see which one you’re rated higher in. Her weight fluctuated so much this year, she could have actually been in three different weight classes this year,” Laminack says.

Gabriel Earp was mentioned this year as having a big improvement since last year and during the season. “The way he works is awesome, he’s bought into powerlifting, and he works hard in athletics for us, and lifts hard in our powerlifting workout. I’ve seen a huge improvement in him,” says Laminack. Some of his first-year lifters, such as Ace Moreno, lifting in the 165-lb class, “Didn’t have really a clue about lifting, just kind of got talked into doing it, and every meet he just made huge jumps. He shows up every morning and comes and works out. He’s improved throughout the season.” Elijah Chavez is another lifter whom Laminack says is one of his top lifters. “He probably hasn’t seen the big jumps in his lifts that he’s wanted to see this season, but he has seen improvement. He’s just constantly working and is a fierce competitor. He and Gabe lead that boys’ group.”

Coach Laminack says it can be frustrating for the older students who have been at it for a few years to see plateaus and not see improvement in their maximum lifts, but with patience over time, they eventually see improvement. The team has been utilizing a program this year which has expanded to include sets of eight repetitions, which encouraged hypertrophy (muscle size growth) along with lower repetiti0n sets, which primarily promote muscle strength gains. Besides the basic powerlifts of bench press, squat and deadlift, the program includes auxiliary lifts such as biceps curls, which typically are done with higher repetitions for hypertrophy, which helps guard against injuries and overall metabolism. He said he got the program from Coach McWilliams.

This is Laminack’s third year of coaching powerlifting, and his twelfth year of coaching overall. He does research on his own as well as depending on networking with other coaches. One weightlifting program in particular that he says has been helpful is from Westside Barbell in Ohio, but the Panther Gym’s weightroom doesn’t have quite the kind of equipment necessary for that program as of yet. He says, “Every year I just get more stuff from other coaches. Plus, I’m a lifelong lifter, and so things that I’ve seen work for me also, I can add those in. I may not always lift as a powerlifter, but lifting and just working on my body is always important,” which he says has always been his desire as a coach, to lead by example.

As of Wednesday, the Panthers Powerlifting Team consists of the following student-athletes: Emily Acosta, 97-lb weight class, is going to state; Valeria Acosta, 105-lb weight class, is going to state; Ebany Aguilar, 259-lb weight class, is going to state; Yahaira Amaro is in the 148-lb weight class, Bianca Eddings, 220-lb weight class, is going to state; Issela Mendoza, 198-lb weight class, is going to state; April Peugh, 198-lb weight class, is going to state; Aaliyah Roberson, 123-lb weight class, should go to state; Caydence Rodriguez, 220-lb weight class, is going to state; Anna Ross, 132-lb weight class, is going to state; Amyrra Stone, 105-lb weight class, should go to state; Christopher Baxter, 242-lb weight class; Gerardo Bustillos, 114-lb weight class, is going to state; Elijah Chavez, 220-lb weight class, is going to state; Gabriel Earp, 132-lb weight class, should go to state; Juan Maldonado, 275-lb weight class, might go to state; Ace Moreno, 181-lb weight class; Julian Ortiz, 165-lb weight class, might go to state; Isaac Salinas, 132-lb weight class, Cash Taylor, 198-lb weight class; Xavier Villa, superheavyweight class, is going to state. Maria Martinez and Miranda Olivo are managers.

In addition to Head Coach Billy Laminack, Rickey Goforth and Bubba Ross assist as coaches for the team.