Elkhart Lady Elks

Four Lady lifters will represent Elkhart in the regional meet at Fairfield Saturday. From left to right: Arrana Gonzalez, Alissa Talley, Jordan Stephens and Chloe Ives.

FAIRFIELD – The Elkhart Lady Elks's main goal this weekend is to make the most of their opportunity. Primarily, a state meet appearance.

Chloe Ives, Alissa Talley, Arrana Gonzalez and Jordan Stephens will all represent the Lady Elks this Saturday at the regional powerlifting meet in Fairfield.

Jacob Nugent will be the lone Elk to represent the boys' side.

Ives (132) is ranked first in the region and fourth overall in the state with a best weight total of 800 pounds.

Talley (97) is ranked third in the region with a best weight total of 515 pounds. Gonzalez (148) is ranked sixth in the region with a best weight total of 730 pounds, while Stephens is ranked 11th in the region with a best weight total of 635 pounds.

A healthy mixture of nerves, excitement and motivation is what's fueling Elkhart heading into this weekend.

Especially for Ives, Talley and Gonzalez who are seniors and understand the importance of making their final regional meet impactful.

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

Ives and Talley are regional meet returners from last season. Ives placed the highest among her teammates in third – a spot outside of the chance to move on to state.

Talley described the regional meet as “controlled chaos.” With nearly 200 lifters at the regional meet in Fairfield last year, it's a bucket of anxiety. It's the last chance they'll get to advance to State, which means the pressure is thick. And the possibility of messing up is escalated.

“Regionals is a whole different world,” Ives said. “It's top competition. It's tougher, but that motivates me to do better.”

Gonzalez, who's a first-time regional qualifier, will have her music to soothe her and control her nerves. For Talley, it's her reminding herself to breathe and not let her nerves overwhelm her.

Ives has her dad to be there with her, as does Stephens. But regardless of how different their calming techniques may be, it all points back to ensure they have the right mindset before their first lift.

“The saying 'mind over matter' applies 100 percent in this sport,” Stephens said. “Every sport I've done before this has been about how you train. In powerlifting, it really is mental. Some of the lifts I've done in meets I hadn't practiced before. But I remind myself it's all 'mind over matter.'”

Having a determined mentality is what allowed Talley to continue battling through her previous knee injuries. Her most recent one coming at the Mabank Invitational where she still placed first with 515 pounds of total weight.

It was also the motivation she received from Gonzalez, who has battled through her share of back of hip spasms. It has made it more difficult for her to squat and deadlift, yet she has improved in both categories in each of her previous three meets.

When the pain comes when she's at the rack she responds with “this is easy money.”

“A lot of people in school don't have each other back as we do,” Talley said. “We're a family. We've grown together a lot. Some people never thought they could lift what they have. I've never in my life been a second-place regional qualifier.”

The Lady Elks will get an early rise as weigh-in will be at 6 a.m. Saturday at Fairfield High school.

“As a team, we have come so far,” Stephens said. “We've put in the work since last year. We set small goals throughout the summer. We didn't quit.”

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