Student Athlete of the Week: Gautier High’s Ladrika Jefferson
The high school powerlifting season wrapped up this weekend, producing several state champions here on the Coast. However, possibly none quite as impressive or strong, pound for pound, as Gautier’s 97-pound state champ Ladrika Jefferson, who happens to be this week’s WXXV Student Athlete of the Week.
“When I come in here, I don’t think about anything. I let all my thoughts go before I walk in the door. I just be focused.” Although the weight of the world feels like it may have been lifted from sophomore Ladrika Jefferson’s shoulders when she enters the weight room, that doesn’t mean Jefferson can’t handle that kind of weight.
Despite her small frame and busy schedule, including class, powerlifting, and ROTC, the 15-year-old maintains straight A’s, has broken multiple state records, and is now the 97 pound Super 12 All-State champion. Gautier Girl’s Powerlifting Coach Bailey Cuevas said, “We’re going on the third attempt and I was starting to coach her up and I was telling her– I was like ‘look, get a good set, make sure you’re breathing, follow the commands,’ and she looked at me– and she never talks, you know she always just does whatever I ask her to do. And she looked at me and says, ‘Coach, I’m gonna win.’”
Jefferson squatted 245 pounds, put up 110 on the bench, tying the all-time record, and set two all-time records, deadlifting 295 and lifting a total of 650 pounds. Cuevas said, “It was like a daughter winning a championship. I was so excited because she’s worked so hard and we’ve done a lot of reps and I was very excited. And I cannot wait because she’s going to hopefully win the state championship the next two years.”
“I felt accomplished. I was really, really proud of myself.”
While women are being celebrated more often for being fit and strong, there are still common misconceptions people have about women lifting heavy. “They think we’re going to be buff. Like have a big upper body and just body build I guess.”
Before joining the powerlifting team, Jefferson was already accustomed to seeing women pumping iron. Having grown up with a mother who is in the military and an older sister who played sports and was also a part of the Gautier ROTC program, Jefferson had an idea of what strong women looked like. “When I work out with them, they would tell me like pain is only a mind thing. So, if you think you can’t do it then you most likely aren’t going to do it. But if you believe you can, then you’re most likely to succeed.”
The powerlifting season may have just finished; however, Jefferson already has her goal set for next season: deadlifting 350.
If you know of anyone on the Coast that deserves to be featured as News 25 Student Athlete of the Week you can contact Grace Boyles via email at GBoyles@wxxv25.com or on Twitter @GraceBBoyles or on Facebook at Grace Boyles WXXV.