Walker High School successfully hosted the 2015 LHSPLA East Regional Powerlifting Meet on Feb. 27-28.

The meet attracted 220 lifters from 19 schools, a news release from the team said. The competition required participants to complete three lifts — a squat, a bench press and a deadlift — with a combined lift weight determining competition placing.

A total of 13 Walker High School powerlifters qualified for the Division I State Meet, which was March 21 at Alexandria Senior High.

Several members of the Walker High powerlifting team earned top honors in their weight classes, the release said.

Seniors Breanna Gurzynski and Sarah Novak finished in first place, while juniors Kenyeisha Williams and Maranda Miller took second place in their divisions. Additionally, freshman Brianna Hudson earned a spot at the state competition by placing third in her weight class among participants from 5A schools.

On the boys team, junior Brandon Racca placed second in his class, while juniors Clarke Turner and Austin Craig placed third in their respective weight classes. Other notable placements included juniors Joel Hughes and Garrett Madere and sophomore Peyton Garon, who finished fourth in their weight classes. Additionally, juniors Alan Rothman and Brett Luneau qualified for state by finishing in the remaining top three in their weight classes from 5A schools.

Racca squatted 450 pounds, Turner hit a personal best 300 pounds on bench press, Miller broke an East Regional record with a 190-pound bench press and Gurzynski broke an East Regional record with a 1,020-pound total.

Coach James Roberts started the powerlifting team at Walker High School during the 2006-07 school year because he saw a need to increase strength schoolwide and wanted to provide students with an avenue where competition drives that increase in strength, he said.

Roberts said people, in general, get the perception of limits and boundaries from what they see on a regular basis. Powerlifting, he said, teaches lifters to push the limits of what they originally perceived to be their boundaries. It puts kids in competition with the best lifters that other schools across the state, and even the country, have to offer, he said.

Students begin to push themselves to a higher standard than what they were used to because they see that others are doing more, Roberts said.

“Their boundaries expand,” he said. “The ceiling rises. For some kids, they skyrocket out of sight.”

Now, they have a lot more room to grow and improve, he said.

Roberts tackles criticisms of powerlifting head-on.

He blames injuries in the sport on coaches not understanding how to use equipment.

“Equipped lifting is just how it is done on the high school level in Louisiana,” he said. “With everyone wearing helmets on the football field, you wouldn’t play a football game without a helmet, the best helmet you can get to prevent concussions.

“Likewise, I am going to get my lifters the best suits available for their technique.”

By hosting meets, the Walker High powerlifting team has purchased weightlifting platforms and other equipment. After the meet, the equipment is put in the school weight room for other sports to use, he said.

Since the 2014 season, the team has given a $500 college scholarship to one senior lifter in honor of a former lifter who was killed in a car crash.

Roberts said the Jeremy Vincent Memorial Scholarship is merit-based and goes to the senior lifter “who best exemplifies the type of leader we want to send out into the world to represent Walker High School and Walker powerlifting.”