Natalia Mustang Senior Manny Padilla lived up to expectations set out for him. Going into the Texas High School Powerlifting Association State Meet in Abilene last weekend, he sat 3rd in the state trailing a Palacios Shark and a Boling Bulldog.
Padilla started off the meet with a huge win, as he was the lone 3A athlete awarded with a THSPA Scholarship for his athletic and academic success thus far. Then the true work began in the 132 lb. weight class.
Padilla was not only able to win his second state title, but he broke a new Texas State Squat record (525 lbs.) along the way, leading the boy in blue to an impressive 3rd place overall finish.
“Manny came in as an underdog sitting 3rd in the state and giving up 80 lbs. to the #1 ranked lifter in his weight class,” Coach Kasey Crowther said. “This never phased him, as we had a plan and he knew that he would have to be at his best to win the state title.”
Padilla was able to defeat the top seeded Palacios Shark defeating him in two out of three lifting events. Padilla used a state record 525 lb. squat, a 265 lb. bench press and a 455 lb. dead lift to account for a state title 1,245 lb. total.
“I can honestly say I am not surprised that he did as well as he did as he is the type of kids that never looks for a way out and always battles through until the end,” Crowther said. “It has been a great experience watching this young man go through the process in this sport and we will miss his leadership and the energy he brought to the program. HIs legacy to be the very best at everything we do will live in our program forever.”
This marked the 2nd time in his career that Padilla won state. The first time was in 2017 where he along with Santiago Leila were the first ever Mustangs to win a state title in powerlifting.
Junior Michael Martinez was the second Mustang who was able to medal at the state meet. He did so in the 220 lb. weight class where he was able to win a 4th place medal after entering the meet ranked 6th overall in his weight class.
“Mike competed at the highest level against the best in the state on Saturday to win a 4th place medal,” Crowther said. “We had a game plan to compete for a medal and he didn’t disappoint.”
Martinez pulled in a 1,500 lb. total, thanks to a 625 lb. squat, a 325 lb. bench press and a 550 lb. dead lift.
DaMichael Harvey of Karen’s ISD won the 220 lb. WC with a 1,610 lb. total, as Poth’s Sean Allen won 2nd with a 1,545 lb. total and Hawley’s Tanner Schooner won 3rd with a 1,515 lb. total.
“Mike improved his squat by 15 lbs, his bench by 30 lbs and his deadlift by 5 lbs,” Crowther said. “He is only a junior, has bought into the program and has every ambition of competing for a state title next year.”
Freshman Adrian Vasquez had a good first showing at the state meet. He was ranked 14th coming into the meet in the 148 lb. weight class and was able to finish 11th with a 1,205 lb. total.
“AD, as a Freshman showed up Saturday to challenge the best in the state for an opportunity to move up in the ranks and that is just what he did,” Crowther said. “The experience this young man has accumulated over the past year will only make him a more fierce competitor in the future.”
Vasquez used a 490 lb. squat, a 230 lb. bench press and a 480 lb. dead lift to account for his 1,205 lb. total.
“I can’t say enough about the way this young man competes as he attacks every lift though it would win him a state title,” Crowther said. “AD was a long shot to medal, but you would have never known by watching him lift. This freshman has shown great leadership, work ethic and we will be leaning on him heavily to leader our program in coming years.”
Junior Uriel Arellano was able to finish in 6th place in the 242 lb. weight class with a 1,530 lb. total. Daniel Dowing won the weight class as the Botham ISD Athlete finished with a 1,775 lb. total followed by Little River Academy’s Chandler Strmiska who finished with a 1,760 lb. total.
“Uriel went out and battled some of the strongest kids in the state and had every opportunity to medal, but we just fell short,” Crowther said. “He actually had a great meet improving his personal best in squat and in bench, but the deadlift seemed to be our Achilles on Saturday.”
Arellano finished with a 600 lb. squat, a 425 lb. bench press and a 505 lb. dead lift to account for his 1,530 lb. total.
“Our game plan was simple as we were going to do what we do and try to increase our total by 75 lbs and allow the chips to fall where they would,” Crowther said. “We increased 50 lbs. in squat and 25 in bench, but missed our deadlift which ended up costing a 5th place medal. While I was disappointed for him, because he deserved the medal, I was extremely proud of how he handled himself on the biggest stage. He will be back next year for his senior season and I know he has every intention of winning state.”
A season ago the Mustangs were able to finish in 24th place out of the entire state of Texas in Division III. This season, Natalia finished with 9 team points, good enough for a 3rd place team finish behind 3A State Champion San Diego (22 points) and 2nd place Edinburg Idea College Prep (12). Coming in 4th was Gladewater Sabine (7) and Bingham in 5th with (7 points as well).
“It was a bitter sweet moment coming home Sunday knowing we had completed a high school career and are losing a great young man to graduation,” Crowther said. “Manny truly exemplifies what we want our Natalia programs to be about with his dedication, work ethic and commitment. He is not only a competitor, he is coach able and strives for excellence in the classroom. He is irreplaceable and has left behind a legacy of leading by example and striving for greatness in everything he has done.”
“Overall, this was a great season for our program,” 1st year Head Coach Kasey Crowther added. “We continued to build a tradition of champions here at Natalia. While this is a great accomplishment to finish 3rd out of 105 teams in division III, you could see the disappointment and hunger in our kids eyes when we did not bring home 1st as a team. We are extremely proud of the way our kids came out and competed and we are more proud they will not rest until they are the very best.”
By Eric Smith