FAIRFIELD – The Westwood Panther powerlifting team is already part of history with a couple of days left until their regional powerlifting meet in Fairfield.
Westwood is sending 10 lifters to compete this weekend – the most they've ever sent before. On the boy's side, Lane Thieme (114), Aeneas Page (123), Cannon Churchman (132), Coy Elton (165), Jaden Crutcher (198) and Donovan Barrett (275) will all represent the Panthers this weekend.
For the girls, Shamaya Downie, Kamren Moore, Addison Dockweiler and Mashayla Owens will represent the Lady Panthers. It's only the second time in school history that they've sent at least three girls in one year to the regional meet.
“We're well-deserving because of the hard work we've done during the season,” Moore said. “We've gone the extra mile to get here.”
Downie, who's a senior, and Owens a junior, are first-time lifters for the Westwood program. Owens is ranked ninth in her weight class in the region, while Downie is ranked 12th.
“I regret not doing it [last year],” Downie said. I'm hard on myself all the time because I felt I was capable of doing it last year and this year.”
Owens's hesitancy came from a belief that she simply couldn't do it. However, a shift in mentality not and, constant encouragement from Addison, not only got her into the sport but her name forever etched in Westwood's history.
Outside of the physical aspect, there was a consensus among the group that their biggest improvement as individual lifters, and a team, has been their mental toughness.
Addison affirmed that as she recalled how much improving her mentality allowed her to improve her total weight throughout the season. It's evident as she improved each of her four meets from 575 in January to 655 in their most recent meet at Mabank.
“You have to get your mind right before you're able to pull the weight,” head coach David Lynch said. “All those girls have had flaws they've had to fight and persevere through all year long.”
“The mental side is just as important as the physical side,” Lynch said. “I've seen kids in powerlifting where if you tell them what's on the bar they'll talk themselves out of it. Our girls are mentally stronger than I ever thought they'll get.”
Kamren Moore has battled through joint problems throughout the year that has required her to attend physical therapy once-a-week. But she hasn't used that as an excuse to not compete. That type of mental fortitude has gotten her to be ranked the 10th best lifter in the region for her weight class.
“It's been a mental process,” Moore said. “I've grown so much with not using that as a crutch. Instead [I'm] using it as more motivation.”
There's a mixture of nerves and excitement as the Westwood lifters head to the meet this weekend.
“Powerlifting is going to help you be better at any sport you really like,” coach Lynch said. “Powerlifting helps you build functional strength. This is fun. I'm proud of what we've been able to obtain. I couldn't ask more of them.”