Powerlifting team members bring home medals from Romania

Published 12:03 pm Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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LUTCHER — With 16 consecutive state championships, the Lutcher girls’ powerlifting has proven to be a premier program in Louisiana and across the globe.

The team also boasts international accolades, with Daige Love, Mikayla Forsythe and Jayla Johnson medaling for Team USA during the 2023 Sub-Jr. World Championships in Romania.

The girls quickly acclimated to the time change following a 13-hour flight from New Orleans to Romania and represented the River Parishes with pride.

Daige Love earned a gold medal overall for having the highest combined score in bench, squat and deadlift in her weight class. She woke up the morning of August 26 and prayed with her mother before it was time to lift.

Love got all white lights for her first two squats and all of her bench lifts, setting a bench record of 275 and earning silver in both events. She also performed well in deadlift, securing a bronze medal.

“It was kind of similar to being at home, but at the same time, it was a lot more pressure. I was representing the United States and going up against all these other countries,” Love said. “I was really intimidated by the other lifters, but I pulled through. I made it. I was extremely excited and proud. I looked at my mom’s face, and she was in tears. It was a really great feeling to be a part of something so big.”

Love, a senior at Lutcher High School, was recruited for the Powerlifting team by Coach Kelly Magendie three years ago. In that time, she has been awarded Outstanding Heavyweight Lifter for Division II and earned a spot on the All-Time Top 50 females for Louisiana high school powerlifting. She is thankful to her family and friends, Coaches John and Kelly Magendie, Pastor Nelson of Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church, and to the Johnson family for helping her reach Romania.

Love plans on making it back to Worlds next year. She’s eyeing a goal of 600 pounds for squat and at least 450 pounds for deadlift. She’s also working toward securing a scholarship to further her education, with a dream of becoming a veterinarian.

Three years ago, Jayla Johnson would have never imagined herself at an international powerlifting competition. She considered herself too small and girly to lift weights, but after she was convinced to give the sport a try the summer before her sophomore year, she was surprised by how much she enjoyed it.

Some of Johnson’s powerlifting accomplishments include being named a bayou regional, state, and national champion, as well as Outstanding Lightweight Lifter of the Year at the regional and state level. In Romania, Johnson earned bronze medals in bench and squat and silver in deadlift, placing third overall in her weight class.

It was different being in an environment where she wasn’t surrounded by her entire family and personal coach.

“I was disappointed because I was hoping to get first, but I had to understand that it was my first Worlds, and I wasn’t used to it,” Johnson said. “I feel like when I go back next year, I will get first place.”

Johnson enjoyed sightseeing in Romania and exploring the oldest Catholic church in the city. Moving forward, she plans to continue breaking records and securing college offers so she can compete at the next level while pursuing veterinary science.

Mikayla Forsythe set a personal best of 1,084 between squat, bench and deadlift in Romania. She placed first in bench with a personal record of 292 and also set a personal best in squat with 430, leading her to place third overall at Worlds in her weight category.

While a mental setback in deadlift prevented her from taking the silver medal, she was still grateful to place among talented competitors.

“When I got to the meet and was able to watch the lifters and my teammates, that’s when the feeling set in that I actually made it to Worlds. It was a bunch of different emotions that flooded you, excitement, nerves, everything you could think of,” Forsythe said.

Forsythe has been a member of the powerlifting team since the summer she entered seventh grade. Having an older sister who attended Lutcher meant she was no stranger to the prestige of the powerlifting program, and she knew it was something she wanted to try out for herself. She’s become a consistent bayou regional and state champion, and she placed first in her weight class at Powerlifting America High School Nationals. She was presented the award for Best Lifter- Female Varsity Equipped in the nation.

Forsythe enjoys how powerlifting builds confidence and pushes her body to limits she never thought possible. She looks forward to earning an invitation to next year’s Worlds in Malta and lifting collegiately as she works toward becoming a neonatal nurse practitioner.

“Powerlifting gives you a second family away from your personal family. It’s the relationship you build with other people. You know that you have people you can go to no matter what,” she said.

Another member of the girls’ powerlifting team, Malaya Mitchell, was named a North American Champion in the Cayman Islands last month.

All four international competitors were celebrated last Friday during a pep rally in the Bulldogs gymnasium.