ALEXANDRIA — Abbeville High School junior Chuck Shuford set three state records as he helped the Wildcats capture a share of the Division III boys state powerlifting championship Thursday at the Rapides Parish Coliseum.
Abbeville and Church Point finished in a tie for the team title with 41 points and are co-champions in Division III.
Assumption took home the Division II boys trophy.
In Division II, Assumption's Eli Justilian earned Best Lifter honors in the 114-165 pound classes while Leesville's Talyn Adams was the Best Lifter in the 181-Super Heavyweight classes.
In Division III, Abbeville’s Shuford was the Light Platform Best Lifter while Jarred Singleton of Union Parish was the Heavy Platform Best Lifter.
More than 200 athletes represented Class 3A and 4A schools Thursday.
Girls from all divisions will compete Friday while Division I (5A schools), Division IV (2A schools) and Division V (Classes 1A and A, B, and C schools) boys compete Saturday.
Shuford raised the bar, literally, setting records for bench press, deadlift and total weight in the 123.5-pound weight class. In each case, Shuford broke his own record. He lifted 300 pounds in bench press, 10 pounds better than the previous record.
In the deadlift, he matched the state record of 485 pounds with his second of three lifts and then set the mark with a lift of 515 pounds. That gave him a total of 1,300 pounds, also a record, eclipsing his previous mark of 1,240 set earlier this year at the regional meet.
The only category Shuford doesn’t have the state record in is squat, which is held by Terrance Phillips of Alexandria Senior High at 505 pounds set in 2016.
“I’m just trying to stay humble. I can’t get the big head,” Shuford said.
While Shuford is no stranger to the state record book, he almost missed out on his chance to compete this year.
“I broke my jaw in November," he said. "This was only my second meet of the year — regionals and today,” he said. The broken jaw came when a bar fell on him while he was training.
As the other lifters in the 123.5 class took their turns, Shuford sat quietly on the bench with headphones on waiting for his record-setting attempt.
“I like to listen to music to keep me motivated and going," he said. "It’s all about mental toughness.”
He said he hopes to get the weight class sweep his senior year by adding the squat record.
LHSAA assistant executive director Lee Sanders said he was pleased with how things went the first day.
“It’s cool to see how powerlifting continues to grow," Sanders said. "This is a great venue and a great central location for our student athletes to compete in."
Meet director Alan LaCombe, the principal at Tioga, echoed Sanders' sentiments.
“Powerlifting is the fastest-growing sport in the association,” LaCombe said. “We grew close to 200 lifters in regionals, and there are more than 2,500 students in the whole association.”
LaCombe said he hopes to see even more students and family members come out in support of the powerlifters on Friday and Saturday.
“We treat it just like football, basketball, softball and baseball — it’s a state championship,” he said. “People need to come out and watch these kids compete.”