Raising the Bar: How the Miami powerlifting program is building a winning culture


MIAMI, OK. — The Miami powerlifting program is emerging as a powerhouse in the state of Oklahoma. From their middle schoolers all the way up to their high schoolers, year after year,
their athletes are continuing to raise the bar.

The work put in inside the weight room has paid off for the Miami powerlifting program.

“I actually had a lot of faith in our team,” said senior Jade White. “We all work really hard in the gym.”

“We’ve got a bunch of kids that, we just wanted it and we have kids up here every day just working their tails off,” added senior Trenton Spunaugle.

The program’s dominance was on full display recently, winning the 2021 Oklahoma State Powerlifting Championship in the seventh grade, eighth grade and ninth grade divisions. Plus, both the high school boys and girls teams were crowned state champions as well.

“First and foremost, the administration allows us that facilities and the equipment for the kids to be successful and then we have enough coaches and stuff encouraging the kids to buy in to what we’re teaching and the kids have bought in obviously and we’re winning at all levels,” said head coach Zach Gardner. “So, we just hope to continue to do that.”

To have all of their hard work pay off has been a big confidence boost for some of the athletes.

“I’ve been working for certain goals since my freshman, sophomore year and now I’m finally hitting them as a senior and it’s just weird to think that i thought then that I would never be able to do that kind of weight,” said senior Alyssa Pendergraft. “Now, I get to walk around with a couple rings on my hand which is nice.”

Now that they’ve established a winning culture, these athletes are hoping to lay a foundation not just for the powerlifting program, but for all other Miami athletic programs to build upon as well.

“I feel personally like we started something new,” said senior Hayden burkybile. “I feel like we’ve opened up a lot of eyes in our town and I feel like we have more potential now in sports.”

“It really does feel great to you know, start a culture here,” added senior Carson folks. “Start a winning mentality in our athletes.”

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