- Associated Press - Saturday, October 29, 2016

HOUMA, La. (AP) - Houma native Taylor Holliday has excelled when competing at high school powerlifting meets across the state in recent years.

Holliday, a 17-year-old senior at Ellender High in Houma, won an individual state championship at the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA State Powerlifting in Monroe earlier this year.

Holliday has now qualified to compete at the USA Powerlifting national championships in Pennsylvania in March.

“I’m trying to not just represent Houma, but I want to represent Louisiana at nationals,” Holliday said. “I’m going to try to win it all for Louisiana.”

Holliday said she started competing in powerlifting as a freshman at Ellender. While most high school athletes participate in powerlifting to help prepare for other sports, Holliday said she considers it her main event.

She tried playing volleyball and tennis, but she didn’t like it.

“It’s a sport that I could connect with,” Holliday said. “With powerlifting, you are in your own world. I’m able to block out everything else when I’m competing at meets. I like the individual aspect of it.”

Powerlifting has now become a complete passion for Holliday, who won her first individual state title as a high school student earlier this year. She placed first overall in her 198-pound weight class at the state meet after lifting a total of 880 pounds, finishing with high totals in the squat lift (420 pounds), bench press lift (185 pounds) and dead lift (275 pounds).

For her accomplishments, Holliday was named top overall female powerlifter in the 165-to-220-pound weight classes at the state meet. She also set the regional squat record this year.

“It felt good to finally win it,” Holliday said. “Hopefully I can win it again in my senior year.”

Holliday continued her success at the NOLA Invitational Meet in New Orleans last month, which helped her qualified for nationals. She finished second in the open division with a total of 845 pounds.

“This year, I really wanted to qualify for it because I’m a senior and this is my last chance to do it in high school,” Holliday said. “I can’t wait. I will be going against power lifters from all over the country, so to be able to go nationals is amazing.”

Holliday said her ultimate goal is to successfully win at nationals so she could move on to the world competition.

“I want to do well, but at the same time, if I don’t win, I’m still going to be happy I made it there,” Holliday said.

Ellender powerlifting coach Corey Bourg, a longtime contributor to powerlifting’s rise on the local and state levels, said he believes Holliday will perform well. Holliday, along with her Ellender teammates, works out up to three times a week to prepare for the season.

“She’s very dedicated. She makes practice. She works hard,” Bourg said. “She’s grown every year that she’s been here. If she trains hard like I know she can train, the sky is the limit. She could actually compete on the world stage.”

Bourg also has high expectations for Holliday in her senior year of high school powerlifting, where she will try to defend her individual state title. Ellender is also gunning for a team state championship. The Lady Patriots were state runner-up winners in 2015.

“Hopefully she can achieve some composite state records and set the bar pretty high,” Bourg said. “She’s lifting real well on squat and bench press. The dead lift is coming along, so we’ll see what happens. She wants 1,100 pounds total, so we’ll see how close she can get to that.”

Since she will have to pay her own way to attend the national powerlifting meet, Holliday and her family has set up a GoFundMe account to help with travel-related expenses. They ask anyone who contribute to visit her GoFundMe page.

Bourg said he would love to send more athletes to national competitions since it is a great learning experience for young people to learn life lessons and see places away from home. But he said it is a constant challenge to do so because of travel expenses. The sport has become more popular every year with over 20 athletes participating at Ellender.

“Money is the biggest issue that we have. The parish is coming around and making strides to support the sport of powerlifting since we have all four high schools doing it now,” Bourg said. “I wish we could actually get a little more support. I would like to see the parish come together for the benefit of all sports and really support what we need for these kids.”

Brandie Holliday-Moore, Taylor’s mother, said her daughter is an exceptional student-athlete who plans to attend Louisiana Tech University.

“I’m very proud of her,” Holliday-Moore said. “She’s an all-around gifted young lady who excels in life. She makes great grades. We thank everyone for their support.”

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Information from: The Courier, https://www.houmatoday.com

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