Girls powerlifting has exploded in popularity over the last couple of years in South Mississippi. With it, Gautier’s Lady Gators have continued to excel, swatting away newcomers who are after their crown as one of the Coast’s top squads.
Gautier will put its four-time Class III, Region 4, District 8 title on the line when they host the region meet at 2:30 p.m. Friday at the Singing River Academy gym.
“It’s bigger than it has ever been,” Gautier girls powerlifting coach Bailey Cuevas said. “My first time doing this there was 25-30 girls five years ago. Now there’s around 100 girls competing.
“It has gotten real big.”
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Cuevas believes powerlifting’s increased popularity along the Coast is because of the sport’s competitive nature. There’s much more to powerlifting than just lifting heavy weights, he pointed out. There’s a lot that goes into it from mental and motivational aspects as well.
“The girls love to see the results,” he said. “You’re constantly seeing results. If you work you see results.”
There’s perhaps no better example of that than his Lady Gators. He returns six lifters from last year’s region championship team, including senior captains Tiya Johnson and Miranda Hicks.
“Our expectation is to win,” Johnson said. “We’ve worked hard all year long. We have a great coach who knows the techniques, what to do and what not to do.”
The Lady Gators’ focus over the last couple of weeks has been on improving their technique.
“That’s what lifting is all about,” Johnson said. “If you don’t have focus and technique, you’re off and you might as well throw in the towel.”
Opponents Friday will include George County, Ocean Springs, Pascagoula, St. Martin, Biloxi, D’Iberville, Gulfport, Hancock, Harrison Central and West Harrison.
The Gautier boys are hosting the Class 5A, Region 4, District 8 meet on Thursday. Participating teams include Stone, Hattiesburg, Pearl River Central, West Harrison, Pascagoula, Picayune and Long Beach.
Gautier will also host the South State Meet March 9-10, with the state championships in Jackson on April 22.