WHS Powerlifters Bring Home Multiple Medals
Murphy residents are state champions. (From left) Hanna Beattie, Coach Katie Hathaway and Madalyn “MG” Whatley.
The Wylie High School Women’s Powerlifting Team is comprised of 48 athletes and is the biggest team in North Texas. This year, as a team, they earned the prestigious title of ten-time regional champions. In addition to this accolade, they came in 2nd at the state competition held in Waco on Mar. 16. Many of the 12 WHS team members who competed in the state competition medaled and set their own personal records. Murphy residents Hanna Beattie and Madalyn “MG” Whatley are the state champions in their weight class.
Katie Hathaway, WHS girls powerlifting coach, is also a Murphy resident. Regarding how the team did this year, Hathaway said, “Amazing! Better than ever! We are second in state with only four points separating us from first.” (WHS team scored 34 points; the first place team scored 38 points.)
WHS medalists provide details into what it means to them to be on this team, why they chose this sport, emotions related to competitions, challenges along the way to the state competition and more.
Hanna Beattie is a repeat state champion. She became the state champion and set state records last year, when, as a junior (220 weight class), she set records in the following: she lifted 510 pounds in her squat and 285 pounds in bench and had a total of 1,190 pounds. This year, she earned the title of state champion again, but in the 259 weight class. She set the following new state records: she lifted 545 pounds in her squat (fun fact, an upright piano weighs between 300 - 500 pounds), 310 in her bench and set a new total score of 1230. She still holds the squat, bench, and total records for 220, 6A.
She has been powerlifting since her freshman year, in part due to the encouraging words said to her before her freshman year by WHS Coach Wilkerson, “You’re going to be my state champion.” This year included a dislocated knee for Beattie which made her question if she should powerlift at all. She said, “I set my goals and overcame my obstacles. I am happy with how I competed. I have no regrets. Holding these records makes me feel so proud.” Speaking with the experience of a senior, Beattie said, “I love this team. They are my other sisters. I’ve never felt like this with any other team I’ve been on. I will be forever grateful for this experience and I will miss it so much.”
In addition to earning the state champion title in her weight class, Madalyn “MG” Whatley (senior/148 weight class), also accrued the titles of Outstanding Bench Press and Squat in Light Platforms. These titles are awarded to the person in each weight class based on the weight they lifted in proportion to their personal body weight. She lifted 350 pounds in her deadlift. Whatley’s total state champion title winning score is 1015 pounds lifted.
She started powerlifting when she was a freshman because a coach told her she looked strong and invited her to try powerlifting. Whatley said, “I fell in love with competing and I love lifting weights.” She sees the team as her second family and Coach Hathaway as a mother figure. She recalls feeling sad before her last lift at the state competition, “I was sad that this would be my last competitive lift. I prayed that God would give me a little strength to lift.”
Maya Higginbotham and Kristen Howard each earned second place at the state championship. Higginbotham (senior/97 weight class) lifted a total of 720 pounds. Kristen Howard (junior/ 259 weight class) lifted a total of 1150 pounds. Higginbotham remembers feeling excited before her final lift. She describes her competition as very closely matched in that they each lifted within 10 pounds of each other. She has really enjoyed the supportiveness of this team, “It hurts my heart to split apart from them. Since my freshman year, they have been like a second family to me.” Howard has been lifting since her sophomore year. She said, “All the girls have been so nice to me and taken me under their wing.” She was in the same class as Beattie. When she thought Beattie wasn’t going to compete this year, she planned on winning state. She said, “I knew Hanna would get first, and I’m very happy for her. This leaves me with goals for next year. I want to set records.”
Hannah Saldivar and Skyler Shaw each earned third place at the State Championship. Shaw competed in the 148 weight class and lifted a total of 895 pounds (she wasn’t present at the interview due to a schedule conflict). Hannah Saldivar (senior/132 weight class) lifted a total of 865 pounds. She and her twin sister Alissa Saldivar both joined the powerlifting team because they had watched their older sister, Serena compete as a powerlifter and knew when they were in high school they would do the same. Hannah said before her final lift she felt nervous and stressed even though she had done this weight, “a thousand times”. She added, “It was exciting to be surrounded by my teammates cheering me on.”
Alissa Saldivar and Onize Musa both earned fourth place at the state championship. Alissa (senior/165 weight class) lifted a total of 975 pounds. Musa (senior/220 weight class) lifted a total of 1,000 pounds. Before her final lift at the State competition, Alissa said, “I was definitely nervous. I knew I had to get the weight and not let my team down.” Regarding being on the team, she said, “We want the same goals. We have each other’s back no matter what. The team makes practice fun.” Musa said she joined powerlifting her freshman year because a friend convinced her to join. In addition to being on the powerlifting team, Musa has played bass clarinet with That Wylie Band since her freshman year. Regarding powerlifting, she said, “I love the competition and meeting new people.” She said she has had many experiences at competitions where her opponents were so kind and helpful. She set a personal record in her bench, squat and deadlift. After not achieving what she had hoped she would at state last year, she was dedicated to improvement and determined to medal this year.
Hathaway has been the powerlifting coach at Wylie High School for five years. She is also the P.E. teacher at Groves Elementary. Her recommendation to female student powerlifters is, “Overall, believe in yourself. You can do more than you think you can do. Trust the process you go through to get better.” Regarding what set Beattie and Whatley apart from their competition, she said, “Hanna and MG are incredible athletes both physically and mentally. They have great determination and do well under pressure. They are intrinsically motivated; I do not have to motivate them.” When she realized there were two state champions on the Wylie team, she said, “I was so incredibly proud. I think of them both as daughters. I wanted this victory for them. They truly are champions in all walks of life and they deserve to wear the title.” Before the State competition, the athletes practiced twice a day including practicing every day of spring break.
Hathaway said that at Wylie High School, their coaching staff values character as their top priority. “We spend a lot of time on characteristics we feel will breed the type of athlete we want on our team. We spend a lot of time building our team into a family. We don’t accept anything less than their best.”