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PHS to host invitational meet

Sydney Bazan spots for lifter Tia Dodd.

The Princeton ISD multipurpose facility will be packed Saturday as more than 400 athletes descend on PHS for the Princeton Invitational Powerlifting Meet.

Organizers are planning for more than 30 schools to be in attendance, and official lifting begins at 9 a.m.

“The Princeton invitational is largely the first meet of most teams' season,” said PHS powerlifting coach and meet coordinator Neal Tull. “Our goal is to put on a gold standard type of meet that all other meets get compared to in the future.”

The meet has seen significant expansion.

“In my three years at Princeton, I have seen this meet grow each year,” Coach Tull said. “This meet provides great competition and sets a benchmark for what it takes to qualify for regional and state. Our goal is to make this the premier meet in our region that athletes, coaches and fans want to attend.”

Reese Weaks prepares to lift with the help of Andrew Bailey.

Because of the size of the invitational meet, it takes an army of volunteers to pull it off.

“We have an amazing group of volunteers that know how much this meet means to Princeton ISD,” Coach Tull said. “Coaches from the high school and junior highs all pitch in to help, as well as other staff members from around the district.”

Consistent helpers over the years have included cheerleaders, National Honor Society and athletes in other programs to make sure the meet runs smoothly.

“And we wouldn't get anywhere without the help of our powerlifting parents and the amazing Princeton Athletic Booster Club, including Jamee Cook and DeeAnna Dodd,” Coach Tull said. “Of course, we couldn't do any of this without my fellow coaches. Coach (Billy) Hughes, Coach (Clint) Surratt, Coach (Renae) Whitaker, Coach (Stacey) Dillard and countless others have helped out in so many ways. I cannot express my gratitude in words for the awesome people in this district that go above and beyond to make sure Princeton ISD is represented at the highest level.” 

The meet not only kicks off the season, but it also prepares PHS powerlifters for the upcoming competition.

Tia Dodd spots for Natalie Walker.

"We expect to set the bar high for our region,” Coach Tull said. “Being the first meet of the season, not everyone will hit their final personal records (PRs) during the second week of January, but this meet will help us identify our overall goals that we will work toward for the rest of the season.”

And Coach Tull believes this is only the beginning of a big season.

"I expect multiple Princeton female powerlifters to advance to state,” he said. “I believe our females have the ability to compete for a top finish in region. On the boy's side, I expect to be competitive in our region with a fairly young group of powerlifters. If the boys can experience some early success, I believe we have a shot at sending multiple qualifiers to regional and possibly get a few to state.”

According to Tull, girls will compete in four meets, while boys will compete in three.

“Because powerlifting stresses the body's neuromuscular system to the extreme, athletes need at least one, if not two, weeks of rest in between meets,” he said. “So, our sport is not like some sports that can play two or three times per week.”

These meets are necessary to qualify for regional competition.

“No matter what, Princeton will be proud of this team,” Coach Tull said. “We have a great group of senior leaders that will set a high standard for others to come, but we also have an amazing group of hard-working underclassmen that have a very bright future.”