Elkhart Lady Elks

Elkhart's Lauren Simpson (second from right) brought home a second-place medal for the Lady Elks at the 3A state championships. Jordan Stephens (first from right) placed fifth in her weight class. Sarah Mann (far left) placed 11th, while Kinley Haas (second from left) placed 10th.

CORPUS CHRISTI - Elkhart's Lauren Simpson brought home a second-place medal for the Lady Elks at the 3A state championships.

Simpson (165) totaled 930 pounds with her 405-pound sqaut besting the competition by 45 pounds. She hit 195 on bench press and 330 on deadlift. Simpson improved on her regional meet score by 40 pounds – specifically upping her sqaut by 20 poounds and her bench press by 20 pounds.

Lady Elk Jordan Stephens (114) placed fifth in her weight class with a total weight of 710 pounds. She posted 270 pounds on squat, 165 on bench press and a 275-pound dead lift.

Guin Young (105) placed ninth overall in her first state meet with a total weight of 535 pounds.

Elkhart's Kinley Haas and Sarah Mann finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Haas was able to achieve the feat of a Perfect Meet! Kinley 9 for 9 and placed 10th out of 275 lifters in the 3A 132 weight class.

Haas totaled 710 pounds, while Mann lifted 690 pounds.

The story below was written prior to the Lady Elks state competition in Corpus Christi Thursday. 

Today the Elkhart Lady Elks return to the stage were a former teammate dreamed of one day competing on.

One year ago, former Lady Elk Chloe Ives had her dream opportunity taken away from her due to a global pandemic. Ives was ranked number one in region III for her weight class and had qualified for her first, and final, state meet of her high school tenure.

“State is the goal this year,” Ives said before last year's regional meet. “I mess it up then I'm done. And I'm not ready to be done yet.”

Unfortunately, the cancellation of her season was out of her control.

Last year, Ives would've be the lone representative for Elkhart on the sport's grandest stage. This year, the Lady Elks are sending five qualifiers to state in senior Jordan Stephens, freshman Sarah Mann, senior Lauren Simpson, senior Kinley Haas and freshman Guin Young.

Not only are they sending the most state qualifiers they've had in recent years, but they're doing it after winning their first THSWPA Regional Championship in school history.

“It was exciting and surreal,” Haas said. “I don't think it set in for us how big of a deal it was in the moment.”

Mann placed first in her class after recording a total of 710 pounds, while Haas followed behind her in second with a total weight of 705 pounds.

The reality of such a prestigious accomplishment may not have registered at the venue, but knowing they had an opportunity to compete at state brought on a series of memories.

Jordan Stephens was one of four regional qualifiers for the Lady Elks last year and had a first-hand experience of how quickly a season can be ripped away after watching Ives unable to complete her ultimate goal of competing at state.

So this year she used that as motivation and received outstanding bench press and lifter after being crowned regional champion in her class.

“Knowing this is probably the last meet I'll do and knowing who we're doing it for is a lot of pressure,” Stephens said. “Everything I've worked for for the past three years comes down to this. I know what I need to do to come out where I want to. It's nerve-racking but our coaches won't put us in a position to fail.”

Five medalist, two regional champions and two regional runner-ups helped is what is to show for head coach Ricky Rodriguez's first-year leading Elkhart's powerlifting program.

From the beginning he did not hesitate on the fact that this season would involve a tremendous amount of work.

“The biggest thing I always tell them is coaches know what it takes to make a successful program,” Rodriguez said. “The hardest part for us is to find the kids who are willing to do the amount of work and commitment it takes to be successful. Everyone of these ladies have been willing to push themselves through the amount of work and uncomfort it takes.”

Going beyond what's required is what has landed them in Corpus Christi. They have a mandatory three-day practice week, but this group took the initiative to be in the weight room five days a week. Now they earned the opportunity to bring home a few state medals.

“It'll be an adrenaline rush for me,” Lauren Simpson said. “All eyes are on you. You know what you can do heading into these meets. Now, you just have no other option but to do it.”

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