The Genesis of Lady Tiger tradition

TYE CHANDLER sports@theglenrosereporter.com
Known for her success in the squat, it proves to be a personal-record deadlift that clinches second place for Genesis Funez at the Region 2, Division 3 Meet. The senior is the first state qualifier in program history.

When she didn't complete all of her lifts at the regional tourney as a junior, Genesis Funez was driven to redirect the path of her Lady Tiger powerlifting career.

In Gatesville March 3, the senior seized second place in the 220-plus class of the Region 2, Division 3 Meet to punch her ticket to state in Corpus Christi March 21. Funez was one of the first two Lady Tigers to ever qualify for regionals last year, and now she stands alone as the program's initial state qualifier.

"She got in (to state) in two different ways," said coach Terry Harlin. "First, she got second place in her class. Second, she reached the 850-pound (auto) qualifying total with a personal-record total of 885."

Funez also set personal records with a 390-pound squat and a 325-pound deadlift. Her bench press of 170 pounds was just five pounds shy of her personal record.

"The squat is a huge part of what Genesis brings to the table, and she might've been able to do 400 (at regionals)," the coach said.

Accustomed to competing in the morning at Saturday meets, Funez didn't begin at regionals until 4:30 p.m.

"Not only did Genesis make the adjustment to lift late in the day, but this was the third change of date for the regional meet," Harlin said. "We did a heavy squat workout Monday an hour before I found out the meet was moved up to Tuesday. We were real concerned about her legs, but she handled it well, and I'm really proud of her."

Funez headed into the meet ranked third in the region in her class. She was 15 pounds behind Brianna Hatcher of Dublin. Funez hit the auto-qualifying total before she was done lifting, yet her motivation remained high.

"She actually hit the total on her opening deadlift," Harlin said. "Then, it was neck-and-neck between her and (Hatcher) for second place. Genesis deadlifted 20 pounds more on her final attempt to pull out second."

Funez explained why she remained intense even with the state trip in the bag.

"My last attempt on deadlift - it was either make it or break it if I wanted second place," Funez said. "I already had the qualifying total, but getting a personal record on deadlift was really important to me. To be the first girl to ever go to state for Glen Rose - it felt amazing.

"Before I even told anyone, I had other (Glen Rose) powerlifters, teachers and students texting me congratulations. It felt great to get that support from them."

Although she's more comfortable with those morning meets, Funez attacked the challenge head-on.

"I'm used to lifting in the morning at meets, but I couldn't let that get in my way," she said. "I had to do what I had to do."

Behind every successful athlete is a quality coach - or two.

"Coach Harlin got me involved in powerlifting, and I don't know where I'd be without it," she said. "It's helped me so much with my confidence and in my life. Other girls look up to me now and believe in me, and I tell them if I can do it, so can they. Coach Harlin and Coach (Brandon) Greenhaw have always stayed positive with me and supported me."

A three-year competitor in the program, Harlin is thrilled to see Funez peak in her last go-round.

"Hard work and perseverance paid off," he said. "She had a lot of talent as a sophomore and made huge strides last year, even though she dealt with disappointment at regionals. In the long run, it motivated her for this year.

"I don't know if anyone I've known has ever wanted to go to state so bad. She's pumped up."

The coach hopes his Lady Tiger groundbreaker will leave a legacy that future lifters strive to match.

"Genesis has school records on all three lifts and total, plus she's one of our first two girls' regional qualifiers, so she's definitely a pioneer in our girls' program when you factor in this achievement as well," Harlin said. "Hopefully, it has long-term effects for our other girls."

With a couple of weeks before the biggest meet of her career, Funez isn't going to sit around hoping for the best.

"I want to get much closer to the girl who won our region than I am now, so I will probably take workouts more seriously and put more time into it," she said.