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Lady Tigers making name in state powerlifting

The South Panola High School girls powerlifting team is made up of (from left) McGheyla Patton, Kiersten Clark and Teddera Patton. They will advance to the State Championships in Jackson April 17-18. 

Teddera Patton, Kirsten Clark and McGheyla Patton are typical South Panola High School girls, sort of.

They work hard in the classroom, keep their assignments current and laugh with friends. Sports takes up most of their free time – softball, basketball, volleyball, and track and field – but they always have time for powerlifting.

With the help of Coach Zack Broadaway, who also coaches football and boys powerlifting, the girls have made other schools take notice of the Tigers’ powerlifting program.

They recently qualified for the State 6A Championships next month in Jackson.

At 5’2”, McGheyla Patton may be short in stature, but her competitiveness is unmatched in meets.

“My sister (Teddera) was the first person who talked me into joining the team and I just enjoy the excitement and going out there and lifting,” she said.

“All my friends think I’m just lifting a bar, but there is a lot more that goes into it than just that.”

Deadlift is her favorite event and she has lifted 230 pounds, easily more than twice her body weight.

Each meet consists of three events – bench, squat, and deadlift. The girls have three attempts at each event and their best result is tallied.

It’s an individual sport, but teams must be good for each lifter to advance.

“Training can be tricky at times because if you don’t get a good lift in each of the three events then you don’t move on, so you want to start on that first lift that you know 100 percent you can hit on and get some points on the board,” Broadaway said.

“It’s not the girls just going up there and seeing how much they can lift. There is a strategy involved,” he said.

Teddera Patton said what sets powerlifting apart from the other sports is the individuality of the competition, and not against others.

“I enjoy it because it’s you and the bar of weights. You just get into a zone in your mind and having the confidence to lift a certain amount of weight you want to lift,” she said.

Teddera is the veteran of the group, and tries to recruit teammates from her other sports to give powerlifting a try.

Broadaway said they girls are easy to coach and he appreciates the work effort he sees each day.

“This is a really good group of girls and they are a lot of fun to coach. I enjoy dealing with the different type of personalities and knowing with one I might have to beat my chest and get her pumped up, where as with Kiersten I might have to take a softer approach, but it’s all well and good.”

“The difference in powerlifting than any other sport is you don’t have to depend on anybody else, its just you,” said Clark, who also letters in track and basketball.

“When it is just me out there, it gives me the confidence knowing I can succeed on my own,” said Teddera Patton, who plans on attending Mississippi University for Women upon graduation and major in nursing.

While football still being somewhat the major talk at South Panola, the trio wants to put powerlifting on the map around school.

“I just want to go and show out because us three and Coach Broadaway have put a lot of effort into this and it feels good to hear the announcements  before school, and it feels good that everyone knows about it,” said McGheyla Patton.

As Broadaway and assistant coach Klara Aizupitis prepare the girls for the upcoming state meet they will focus on staying healthy, and keeping a steady regimen of lifting and exercise.

Of course, they also have other plans to make. One big choice is what music the girls will choose to get them pumped and ready for the state meet.

A hip hop, pop, or rap favorite? Maybe for a couple of the girls, but for McGheyla the choice will be something that many may find surprising.

“I’ve got to have Lynyrd Skynyrd, and it’s got to be ’Simple Man,’ that’s what I will be listening to,” she said, referencing a Southern rock ballad recorded years before she was born.

“I just love Lynyrd Skynyrd. It’s my kind of music.”