Parish powerlifters and tennis players dominated last season

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

We’ll never forget 2020. It will always be remembered as the year that crowned no state champions in so many different high-school sports.

Among the two sports that didn’t get to complete their seasons due to the rapid spread of the Coronavirus throughout the state were powerlifting and tennis.

It was just last year when the parish crowned champions in each sport. Unfortunately, none of the athletes in the area will get the opportunity to follow up those accomplishments.

Most notably, the Ascension Catholic girl’s powerlifting squad will not get the chance to capture a sixth straight state championship.

Last season, under first-year head coach Janelle Leonard, the Lady Bulldogs ruled their division once again.

In addition to the team being crowned as champion, Ascension Catholic also had two lifters that won individual state titles.

Nydia Cooper claimed the state title in the 181-pound weight division. Cooper finished with a total of 775 pounds. This included a squat of 320, a bench press of 150 and a deadlift of 285.

Joining Cooper was Madison Tripode. She claimed the state championship in the 132-pound division. She finished with a total of 645 pounds. Tripode squated 265, benched 115 and deadlifted 265.

In Division-I, no parish school won a state title, but Dutchtown’s Hayden Willis put forth an amazing, record-breaking performance that stole the show.

He brought home the state title in the 198-pound division with a tremendous total of 1,690 pounds. This included a squat of 585 and a bench press of 375.

But it was his deadlift that blew away the competition. Willis amazingly deadlifted 730 pounds, which set a new state record.

For his performance, Willis was named one of the Division-I Outstanding Lifters, along with Holy Cross' Ahmad Coleman.

He led Dutchtown to a seventh-place finish.

Sadly, the season was suspended and ultimately cancelled just one week before the state meet was to be held at the Fant Ewing Coliseum at UL-Monroe.

The tennis state tournament was also cancelled. It was supposed to take place at UL-Monroe on April 23-27.

Last season, Ascension Christian senior Bryce Walker put forth a spectacular effort. For the second time in his career, he captured the Division-IV state title.

Walker did not lose a single set throughout the state tournament. He opened with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Central Catholic's Gavin Wisdom.

In the second round, he beat Forest's Eric Windham by the same scores. In the quarterfinals, he swept through Pope John Paul II's Ian McManus, and in the semifinals, he made easy work of Opelousas Catholic's Taylor Thislethwaite.

Walker didn't lose a single game until the finals, when his first set against Calvary Baptist’s Andrew Otzenberger had to go to a tie-breaker.

He eventually won that set, 7-6. He then blanked Otzenberger, 6-0, in the second to capture the state championship.

Walker helped lead the Lions to a third-place finish. Dunham won the team crown, and Evangel was the state runner-up.

No other Ascension Parish tennis player made it past the first round of the state tournament.