Mustangs claim Region 5 powerlifting team title

Manny Padilla was one of three Mustangs to advance to the State powerlifting meet. More photos available at our online gallery!

A tradition of success on the mat continued for the Natalia Mustang Powerlifting Program last Saturday at the Region 5 Meet at Bishop High School. A record eight Natalia Mustangs qualified for the Regional Meet, which broke all previous records.
When the daylong event concluded, three more records were broken as Manuel Padilla, Julian Martinez and Santiago Leija claimed Regional Championships. As a result, these three young men are also state bound which breaks the mark for the most lifters to qualify for state in one season. This also marked the second time in the history of the program (2nd in five years) that the Mustangs were able to win the Regional Title ahead of 43 other schools in attendance. As a group the Mustangs also pulled in five medals.
“We are proud to announce that our boys came home with a 1st place team finish at the regional meet,” Coach Ilyan Martinez said. “Everyone did their part, approached the day with confidence and competed with their top performances. As a team, we brought home five medals and several personal records to contribute to our win.”
In the 123 lb. weight class, Manny Padilla pulled in the first regional title and first state qualifier. Padilla did so, courtesy of a 1,020 lb. total which included a 400 lb. squat, a 205 lb. bench press and a 415 lb. dead lift. He finished ahead of eleven lifters at the regional meet.
“Manny started the meet off a little shaky, but knew how to stay at the top of his game mentally,” Martinez said. “He had a clear goal in his mind and went after it. He has been committed to being the best he can all season and this showed as he earned his regional title and qualified for state.”
Julian Martinez was next in line for Natalia, as he claimed the second regional title for Natalia in the 220 lb. weight class. Martinez used a 600 lb. squat, a 350 lb. bench press and a 610 lb. dead lift to account for a 1,560 total which punched his ticket to the state meet. Martinez finished ahead of eleven other competitors in this very competitive weight class.
“We knew Julian was going to have to work extra hard and have a perfect day to climb to the top at this meet,” Martinez said. “He understood that the physical aspect could only take him so far and if he wanted to win, the right mental aspect would have to kick in. Needless to say, he took care of business when it mattered most.”
The final Mustang to claim a regional title and punch his ticket to state was Santiago Leija in the Super Heavy Weight Class. Leija used a 650 lb. squat, a 405 lb. bench press and a 585 lb. dead lift to account for a 1,640 lb. total. He finished ahead of twelve other competitors in the weight class.
“Santi’s work up focused on all the right things Saturday,” Martinez said. “He took the lead from the start, maintained his focus and left no room for distractions or doubt. He did what he had to and finished great.”
Mustang Ryan Juarez competed in the 132 lb. weight class where he finished in 11th place with an 825 lb. total. His total included a 325 lb. squat, a 160 lb. bench press and a 340 lb. total.
“This was Ryan’s first regional meet as a sophomore and he did everything we asked him to do,” Martinez said. “His future is looking bright and we are excited to have him for the next two years.”
In the 198 lb. weight class, Alejandro Sanchez had a great day in Bishop as he finished in 3rd place with a 1,305 lb. total. Although he was just shy of a state appearance, he did medal thanks to a 525 lb. squat, a 275 lb. bench press and a 505 lb. dead lift. Sanchez competed against 10 other lifters in the weight class.
“Alejandro is a testament to the success that can be achieved through commitment,” Martinez said. “He traveled to the meet as an alternate, expecting his role to be to support the team. Soon he learned, he would compete with his team. Opponents didn’t see him as a threat, because he came in at the bottom of the standings. He was motivated, hungry and that is all that was needed, blowing his personal records away. He missed the state qualification by one place, but he was a huge contribution toward the team win.”
Caden Fregia also competed in the 198 lb. weight class. He finished in 9th place with a 1,200 lb. total. His total included a 525 lb. squat, a 290 lb. bench press and a 385 lb. total.
“Caden came in strong and had personal bests on his bench and squat at the meet,” Martinez said. “He did a great job, surprised opponents and changed the game with the numbers he hit. He will be back next year ready to lead his team as a senior.”
In the 275 lb. weight class, Oscar Ramirez was the final Mustang to medal. He did so by claiming 4th, thanks to a 1,395 lb. total. His total included a 550 lb. squat, a 345 lb. bench press and a 500 lb. dead lift. There were a total of 11 lifters in his division.
“Oscar had an impressive performance by really upping his game and performing at his peak,” Martinez said. “He maintained a positive attitude throughout the meet, remained focused and gave it his best. He hit personal bests on every lift bringing him from 10th place standing to a 4th place finish.”
Natalia Mustang Victor Cruz unfortunately, was disqualified when he competed in the Super Heavy Weight.
“We had hoped for a top five finish, but a mishap on the platform resulted in a disqualification,” Martinez said. “Vic, only a junior will learn from this experience and will come back stronger than ever.”
Final team Standings
As mentioned, the Natalia Mustangs claimed the Region 5 Title with 26 team points finishing ahead of 40+ other schools. This included traditional powerhouses such as San Diego, Karnes City, Hebbronville, Hallettsville and a number of others.
State Meet
The Natalia Mustangs will continue to work hard as Padilla, Martinez and Leija will prepare for the State Meet. The 2017 State Meet will be held March 25th at the Abilene Convention Center at 8:00 a.m. We will have a preview in next week’s Devine News.
“I am proud of their commitment this year and we have learned to focus on the process of the season performances and allow the end results to show their success,” Martinez said. “I know we will be back next year at regional hungrier than ever and will continue to build the tradition for Natalia.”

By Eric Smith
Staff Writer