Adrian Miller believes the past is why the program’s future is so bright.

With the season opener rapidly approaching, Ellison powerlifters are weeks into a schedule of strenuous workouts meant to prepare them for the series of challenges ahead. After all, the Eagles and Lady Eagles intend to compete all the way to the state meet.

And although Ellison’s head coach is confident his athletes have the potential to accomplish the goal, he knows future success stems from past achievements.

“Any time you start to have success,” Miller said, “word starts to spread, kids get excited and that increases the buy-in that comes from everybody in the program.

“Due to kids going to state in the past and having a couple sign to lift in college, it all lifts our program, pushes us forward, and we are definitely moving in the right direction.”

In just its fifth year of existence, Ellison’s powerlifting team is looking for its best season yet after sending three athletes to state in 2019, including Lagi Ah Sang, who placed third in her weight class thanks in part to a state-record deadlift.

Expected to help guide the Lady Eagles as a junior, like Miller, Ah Sang intends to use the momentum generated last season as a springboard, but she also understands there is a new responsibility.

“I’m in more of a leadership role now,” the two-time state qualifier said, “but I love talking with people and encouraging them to better themselves.”

Soon, however, the time for talk will be over.

The Eagles and Lady Eagles travel to Smithville on Jan. 18 for their first meet of the season, and Santos Lacewell is eagerly anticipating the moment.

“This is an exciting time,” the senior said. “I love competing, and this is my final year, so I have to give it my all.

“I’m really motivated to go out with a bang.”

Last year, along with Ah Sang’s bronze medal, the Eagles emerged from the state meet with a pair of sixth-place showings from then-seniors Treston Hudnall — a two-time qualifier — and Yakariel Young.

Now, with the pair departed from the program, the responsibility of returning resides with others, but there are multiple potential replacements.

With participation growing, Miller feels confident he will have at least three boys and two girls competing at state assuming they maintain their work ethics.

“Powerlifting is a slow process,” Miller said. “We don’t want to push the kids too hard and hamper them with injuries or have them bottom out from failure in the first couple of meets.

“We need to take our time, and by the time we get to our Copperas Cove meet on Feb. 13, we want to start pushing the kids who have regional and state runs in them. Then, we’ll just keep striving for the top.”

Regardless of how the season plays out, though, Lady Eagles senior Paige Smith intends to enjoy the journey.

“This year is different,” she said. “I know this is my last year to compete with my teammates and enjoy all that comes along with it.

“I just want to get the most out of it.”

Contact Clay Whittington at

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