Glen Rose powerlifting wins Region 2

Glen Rose Tiger powerlifting wins the regional meet for the first time March 7. Team members include (l-r) coach Terry Harlin, Miguel Barraza, Cody Halcom, Azahel Herrera, Antonio Ponce, Cesar Herrera, Braxton Barrios and coach Brandon Greenhaw. Heath Nicholson is not pictured.

To say March 7 was a monumental day in the history of Glen Rose Tiger powerlifting might be an understatement.

For the first time, Glen Rose won the regional meet, as the program's previous high-water mark was third place in 2012. A school-record four Tigers advanced to state, and a school-record seven Tigers medaled at the Region 2, Division 3 Meet in Whitney. Among 35 teams, Glen Rose led the way with 27 points, followed by Axtell (22) and Rogers (21).

"Axtell and Rogers both had some first-place guys, so we were concerned about those two schools, as well as Crawford and Hillsboro," said coach Terry Harlin. "Some of our guys finished where we expected them to and some didn't, but we managed to come out on top. All seven of our guys medaled to help us win, and I'm proud of them all. There's a lot to be excited about."

Seniors Azahel Herrera, Antonio Ponce and Cody Halcom all advanced to state, as did junior Cesar Herrera.

"Those four guys made it to the show through their hard work, but the other three have nothing to hang their heads about," Harlin said.

Competing in the 132-pound class, Azahel Herrera was the lone Tiger to win his class, and he did so by 55 pounds. The two-time state qualifier set personal records in the squat (385), deadlift (420) and total (1,055), while tying his best mark in the bench press (250).

"He solidified himself as the top guy in his weight class in the region," Harlin said. "He left no doubt and improved on his personal records. Azahel's bench carries him, and he almost doubles his body weight in bench, which is really impressive."

After battling an injury at state last year, Azahel is grateful to have another shot.

"It's an incredible feeling for all of us - Glen Rose making history right here," Azahel said. "Taking four guys to state is good for Glen Rose. I have unfinished business (at state), and I'm going to give it my best this last meet. This year is a new opportunity for me."

Among the Tigers to finish second, Antonio Ponce was closest to first place in the 114s, as he finished 20 pounds shy. The senior state returnee matched his personal records across the board - squat (315), bench (165), deadlift (375) and total (855). He hit the state auto qualifying total of 850.

"Antonio did exactly what he's capable of," Harlin said. "We were really excited to see him go for the (regional deadlift) record (of 390 in the 114s). I know he's disappointed he didn't get it, but he qualified for state both by finishing second and hitting his (auto qualifying) total.

"(That 375-pound deadlift) is an unbelievable lift for his body weight. I'm sure that's one of the top-five all-time deadlifts for someone in the 114s in this region."

Ponce was driven to return to the state meet.

"It feels good to be going back to state," he said. "I didn't get (the total) I wanted to get, but overall we did good as a team. Getting first at this meet was a real big goal of ours, and we accomplished it. Setting a school record always feels good, and it's something we'll always look back on in the future."

Finishing second in the 148s, Cesar Herrera was 110 pounds behind first place and 45 pounds ahead of third. He set a personal record in the squat (470) and tied his best mark in the bench (245). The junior also deadlifted 450 for a total of 1,165.

"This was a great exclamation point on a great season for Cesar," Harlin said. "He made so much improvement over the course of one year, and even during this season."

Cesar was fired up to be joining his cousin at state.

"To compete at state - just to qualify - means a lot, knowing I've put in work since last summer and we've pushed ourselves," he said. "We won as a team. I've jumped up two weight classes - from 123 to 148 - since last year. What really made a difference for me is eating the right foods to get a lot of protein and gain muscle."

With the most dominant lifter in the region in his 123-pound class, Halcom finished 240 pounds behind first place, but more importantly he was five pounds ahead of third. Entering regionals ranked fourth in the region, the senior had to jump two lifters to advance. He set personal records in squat (320), deadlift (365) and total (845) while matching his best bench (160).

"It was a great moment to be able to control your own destiny with a final deadlift to go to state," Harlin said. "That's what you ask for, and he stepped up and got it. We knew Cody had a chance to advance, and he had a great day on squat and deadlift. He was up to par on his bench to give himself a chance on deadlift, and he's really strong on that lift."

Halcom is the only four-time regional qualifier in school history.

"That helps show all of my hard work that I've put into lifting," Halcom said. "I was very nervous on my last (dead) lift, because either I got it or I didn't get to go. We're just really happy to be the first ones (from Glen Rose) to win as a team, plus it's my first time to ever go to state."

Competing in the 220-pound class, Heath Nicholson finished 65 pounds behind second place for third. He squatted 565, benched 310 and deadlifted 575 for a total of 1,425. Two lifters from Rogers advanced to state in the 220s.

"The Rogers coach said after seeing what Heath had done (to win) at Stephenville that it really made his guys work harder to catch him, especially knowing how strong of a deadlifter he's been," Harlin said. "I know he was disappointed, but they provided great competition in his class."

Competing in the 198s, Miguel Barraza finished fifth - just 40 pounds behind second place. He had a personal-record bench (315) to go with a squat of 510 and a deadlift of 460 for a total of 1,285.

"Miguel had a good day and his bench carried him," Harlin said. "I know he's disappointed because he thought he had a chance to get out, but second through fifth in his weight class was really tight. He definitely had a chance, and I'm proud of him."

Competing in the 220s, Braxton Barrios finished fifth, 200 pounds out of second place. He had a personal-record bench (320) to go with a squat of 520 and a deadlift of 450 for a total of 1,290.

"Last year, Braxton was right on the outside looking in, as far as medaling at regionals," Harlin said. "A lot of hard work paid off and he got the medal. Hopefully he continues to improve next year."

The four state qualifiers can now look ahead to the state meet in Abilene March 28.

"These guys have three weeks of work to really hit it hard," Harlin said. "We'll mix up our workouts, and if you can add five to 15 pounds to each lift, it's key because the competition will be even stiffer at state. We won every invitational meet we went to this year, and now this.

"We look forward to the future. We'll lose some good quality lifters (to graduation), but I think we'll be strong again next year."