ABILENE, Texas - More champions will be made in Abilene this weekend as the Texas High School Powerlifting Association's State Championships begin Saturday, March 22 at the Taylor Expo Center Coliseum. Opening ceremonies begin at 8:30 a.m. with the actual lifting beginning at 9:00 a.m. The public is invited and admission is $5.
To qualify for the state championships an athlete must place first or second in his region. They may also qualify by lifting a set weight determined by the Powerlifting Association by weight class.
Abilenian Riley Owens won the region title in the super heavy weight class and Jonathan Rodriguez took second in the 123 lb. weight class to represent Cooper High School in the state championship. Owens qualified for regionals in one meet and the state meet will be only is third meet of the year.
"Riley was a key lifter and has helped the team throughout the season. He will go on to play football at Hardin-Simmons and is stronger than ever," Cooper Coach Justin Head said. Rodriguez, affectionately called "JRod," has competed regionally for the last 3 years. "JRod is has been close to the state meet the last two years," Coach Head continued, "and has had a good year lifting and should do well at the state meet. He is one strong guy."
Abilene High sends two competitors Reagan Cooke in the 220 lb. weight class and Miguel Espinoza in the 242 lb. weight class each took second place at regionals. Cooke and Espinoza have a lot of similarities; both young men are juniors, are on the defensive line for the Eagles football team, on the leadership council and are strong leaders at Abilene High. Coach Tommy Martinez said that ‘these are the type of kids a teacher wants to see coming and is glad to have in their class."
An estimated 2,500 visitors from all over the state will be in Abilene to cheer on nearly 500 weight lifters. This is the seventh consecutive year for Abilene to host the Championships. The Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau estimate the economic impact of over $555,000 will be pumped into Abilene's economy in just two days.
"Abilene's location in the state makes it a fantastic central location to meet. We are always welcomed with open arms and the facility is perfect for our needs. The support from the Abilene Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Taylor County Expo Center and local high schools is tremendous. The association plans to stay as long as Abilene will have us," Barry Newton, President of the Texas High School Powerlifting Association, said.
The association recently signed a four year contract with the Expo center.
Information for this story provided by Abilene Convention & Visitor's Bureau.