WACO — Suddenly, she was calm.
Looking to improve on her second-place showing last season, Copperas Cove junior Alyssa Arnold admittedly entered Saturday’s Class 6A Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association Championships with anxiety.
She understood a year’s worth of hard work in a pursuit of a gold medal was about to be tested by the state’s best lifters, and it began to become overwhelming.
Only momentarily, though.
“When we got here,” Arnold said, “I was excited, and then my stomach started to hurt. I was getting butterflies.
“But as soon as I got up there to lift, I knew this was my time.”
And she was correct.
Arnold, who cruised to a regional title, was never challenged, surpassing her closest competitor by 265 pounds en route to a gold medal in the 259-plus division.
On top of her championship, she broke the state bench press record with a 310-pound lift — 35 pounds more than anybody else in the field — and her total weight also was a state record.
The dominant showing left Arnold feeling invincible.
“I believe I can accomplish anything I want,” she said. “If I just set my mind to something, then I can do it.”
Along with her benchmark bench press, Arnold posted a 545-pound squat and a 450-pound deadlift to clinch first place.
She was not the only area athlete to emerge from the meet with a medal or a state record, though.
Ellison sophomore Lagi Ah Sang captured third place in the 259-pound weight class, eclipsing her own state record in the deadlift by 30 pounds with a 435-pound lift.
“It is still kind of shocking to me,” she said, “but I always had confidence in myself.
“It just hasn’t hit me yet, but I’m really happy.”
While Ah Sang is working toward comprehending her accomplishment, Ellison head coach Adrian Miller is not.
“This is not something that is common,” he said. “There are a lot of people in this state who are really good at this sport, so this is a big achievement.
“It’s a testament to her hard work and dedication.”
Ah Sang opened with a 410-pound squat before following with a 205-pound bench press and then rewriting the state record book.
Now, with Arnold’s and Ah Sang’s seasons complete, both turn their attention toward returning to state next year, when each expects to collect a state title and more state records.
And neither intends to squander a moment.
“I don’t take breaks,” Ah Sang said. “I just keep grinding away.”
“I always take Sundays off,” she said, “but I work out every other day.
“Even after winning a gold medal at state, I’m only taking one day off.”