Thoughts from a state champ – “The meet really doesn’t start until the bar hits the floor”

Published 12:32 am Saturday, March 25, 2023

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BRIDGE CITY — Bridge City High School sophomore Hallie Bearden already cemented herself as one of Texas’ best young powerlifters after winning a state championship.

She may be an accomplished student-athlete, but she’s staying true to herself and her craft through it all — while her muscles are powerful, her faith is stronger.

Bearden’s introduction to competitive powerlifting came last school year as a freshman. She barely missed medaling at the regional meet and emerged from it determined not to fall short again. She set her sights on making, and winning, a state title — just one year later, she turned that goal into reality.

Sophomore Hallie Bearden captured a state title for Bridge City High School by lifting a combined 820 pounds in the 114-pound weight class. Her margin of victory was a close five pounds. (Courtesy photo)

Bearden’s total lift at the state competition added up to an impressive 820 pounds, claiming first place in the 114-pound weight class by a slim five-pound margin. She tallied a 330-pound deadlift, a 195-pound bench press and squatted 295 pounds.

“Deadlift is definitely my favorite,” she said. “That’s where you make things happen that you’ve never done before. If you have to pull this certain amount of weight to win the meet, that’s just what you do. The meet really doesn’t start until the bar hits the floor.”

Bridge City girls powerlifting coach Rachel Hamerly has high praise for the state medalist.

“’I’ve probably taught over 1000 students, but I’ve never met a kid like Hallie that had a goal and never stepped from it,” Hamerly said. “Hallie was going to do whatever it took to leave with that first-place medal. I’ve never seen a kid with that much determination, putting in the work to make it all happen — especially at such a young age.”

Taking her place at the top of the winner’s podium was a feeling unlike any other for Bearden.

She said it was surreal to have all the challenging work pay off and accomplish her biggest goal in the sport.

“Standing on that podium was just a feeling of awe, but I made sure to say, ‘Thank you, God, for all these blessings that made this miracle and opportunity possible,’” Bearden remembers. “Having the opportunity to go to our high school gym and have the great coaches that put that program together, and train with outside coaches is a whole blessing within itself.”

Bearden said the work that went into reaching these heights didn’t just take place in the gym, though.

The key to success was also consistency, eating right and a lot of prayer. She credits her faith as one of the greatest sources of her motivation, giving her the strength to keep pushing herself.

“One of the biggest reasons I love powerlifting is because just how you can correlate everything back to God,” Bearden said. “Psalm 62 says all power and all strength belongs to God. You’ve got to rely on Him in every bit of this sport.

“State was a hard meet. I’ve never had any more technical issues go wrong and had such a discouraging meet, but I’ve also never had one where I’m so at peace and composed with all the wrong things happening. I can testify I had to lean on God to keep my peace and guard my heart as my strength, and he came through.”

Bearden also gave plenty of credit for her success to the community around her. In particular, she mentioned the Lord’s Gym in Mauriceville, where she trains, describing it as a special place that’s helped drive and support her throughout her journey.

“I’m always able to go in there and lay my burdens at the door at that gym,” she said. “I have such a community that has my back in weight spotting me, but also spots me in life by supporting me, pushing me and encouraging me. The culture there and training with my school have just completely changed my life in such a way that I’ll forever be grateful for.”

One state title didn’t quite satisfy Bearden’s competitive spirit.

Her goal for next year is to move up a weight class into the 123-pound division and compete for another gold medal.

She’ll continue developing her strength as a powerlifter but also wants to remain grounded and stay active as a leader on her team, Cardinals for Christ, her church and her community.

“To lead, you have to follow,” she said. “It’s hard to be a leader, but it’s also comforting to lead others in following God. What really makes a great leader is just recognizing that it’s not about your accomplishments and your words, but really about the truth in who you follow.”

— Written by Keagan Smith