When a team loses about half of its top competitors from the previous season, the chance to repeat as a state champion usually drops significantly.

That’s not the plan for the Ascension Catholic girls powerlifting team. The Bulldogs of Division V help lead the list of teams set to help open the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Powerlifting meet Friday in Monroe.

“We’re young, but I feel like we have a great opportunity to repeat,” ACHS powerlifting coach Joe Ryan said.

“There are a couple of things that work to our advantage. Not many teams can qualify somebody in every weight class, but we did. And we also had a couple of weight classes with two competitors.”

The two-day LHSAA event begins at 9 a.m. Friday at the Louisiana-Monroe’s Fant/Ewing Coliseum with competition for girls teams in Divisions III, IV and V. Competition for boys teams in the LHSAA’s smaller divisions starts at 2 p.m.

Action concludes Saturday with competition for Divisions I-II.

Girls competition again starts at 9 a.m. and is followed by boys competition at 2 p.m.

ACHS has the top-seeded competitor in five girls weight classes for the Division V meet that features Louisiana schools in traditional classes 1A, B and C.

The Bulldogs’ Brandi Landry and Emme Medine are rated first and second in the 114-pound weight class.

It’s the same story at 123 where Michalyn Daigle and Paige Joseph hold down the top spots.

ACHS’ Jordan Diez (132 pounds), Isabelle Abadie (148) and Elizabeth Latino (165) also are top entrants in their weight classes.

The Bulldogs graduated three lifters from a year ago and had two others transfer to other schools. But the size of the team grew from 12 to 18, thanks in part to five freshmen who play key roles. The ACHS boys team also grew from 18 to 22.

“The growth of the sport and the team really is amazing,” Ryan said. “The school and community have embraced this.”

Another state title for the girls and a top-three finish for the ACHS boys are among the goals for the Bulldogs. Because the meet will be held in a larger venue, Ryan said he has stressed staying calm and treating the LHSAA meet like any other.

“We have a lot of freshmen, but this is our fifth meet,” Ryan said. “We didn’t do our best at the regional meet, and I think the fact that you had more lifters and a lot of fans had something to do with that.

“Our girls and our boys just need to relax and go out and do what they’re capable of. If they do that, we’ll be fine.”

Woodlawn coach Steve Baronich said two key changes should heighten the competition in all five divisions.

The number of regional meets grew from four to five for the first time in 2016. Instead of taking only the top three regional qualifiers to the state meet, competitors ranked in the top 10 for the entire season also garnered a spot in the LHSAA meet.