Florence may be a small school in a small town in Central Texas.

But to the Florence girls powerlifting team, size is all relative.

The Lady Buffaloes’ powerlifting team improved on its mark a year ago with a runner-up team finish Saturday at the Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association Region 2 Division 3 Championship at Gatesville High School.

“It’s a big step for the program, things are going in the right direction,” Florence powerlifting coach Beau Barksdale said. “We’re constantly setting a new bar for our girls powerlifting team. Next year our goal is to be first.”

A year after taking third, the Lady Buffs scored 20 points among five competitors, with all five medaling with top-five finishes, including a pair of silver medals and a gold for 198-pound senior Tori Navarro.

Navarro, who barely qualified for her 198-pound class, lifted a region-best 310 pounds in the squat and 320 in the dead lift while adding 150 in the bench press. This is just a few weeks after she suffered several injuries that kept her from even lifting weights for nearly a month midway through the season.

“I told her, it’s time to turn it on, it’s time to turn it to the next level,” Barksdale said. “She worked hard for two weeks, … and she did what she had to do and put up her best total all year to win it.”

Navarro was joined by two second-place sophomores in 165-pounder Amanda Stiles with a total lift of 745 pounds and 220-plus Shelbie Long, who combined to hoist 955 total pounds among the squat, bench press and the dead lift.

Sophomores Stiles and Long, who qualified for state as freshmen, each tried to go up in weight in their final attempts to secure gold, but each came up a little short.

Long successfully put up 400 pounds on her final squat attempt but it was disallowed due to a technicality.  Stiles temporarily tied the regional record with a bench press of 165 but Rogers’ Celeste Campos put up 170 on her final try and Stiles couldn’t lift 175 on her last attempt.

“(Stiles is) going to be a good one in the future, I really think she’ll be a powerhouse along with Shelbie,” Barksdale said.

Salado also competed but had no one point for the team with top-five finishes.

Gatesville, which had 15 total lifters, finished third as a team at the Region 2, Division 2 championship with 34 points behind champion College Station (43 points) and runner-up Hillsboro (39), also at Gatesville High School.

The Hornets were led by a pair of regional champions in 132-pounder Lita Galdones and 165-pounder Raven Massey with total lifts of 730 and 865 pounds, respectively. Sabra Warren placed second in the 97-pound class with a total of 510 pounds (210 squat, 115 bench, 185 dead lift) as all three lifters qualified for the state meet March 16 in Corpus Christi.

Galdones squatted 260 pounds, benched 145, and dead lifted 325 while Massey squatted 345, benched 165 and dead lifted 355.

The Hornets also had three third-place finishers who narrowly missed out on a spot at state, including 105-pounder Callie Zoeller (525 total), 123-pounder Liz Trejo (650) and 181-pounder Sarah Walker (745).

Lampasas, which finished fifth as a team, had just one state qualifier in Scotti Franklin, who was the runner-up in the 220-pound class with a total weight lifted of 770 pounds (320 squat, 170 bench, 280 dead lift).

Belton, Copperas Cove and Ellison each had boys lifters compete at the THSPA Region 2, Division 1 meet at Dripping Springs Middle School on Friday, but none placed among the top five to earn points.

Contact Alex Byington at alexb@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7566

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