SAN DIEGO — Like everyone else, San Diego High School powerlifting coach David Valdez has seen the sport’s popularity skyrocket over the last decade. What’s more, he’s also seen the rise of girls’ powerlifting.

So it doesn’t surprise him to see this weekend’s 17th Brush County Classic powerlifting meet in San Diego draw a group of a lifters which may total as high as 250 from 14 different South Texas High Schools. It’s also not a shock to see that as many half of the lifters in Saturday’s meet are girls.

It’s not a trend unique to just South Texas, Around the state, girls powerlifting is gaining momentum.

“There’s a lot of popularity in powerlifting right now,” said Valdez, who coached three state championship teams in Hebbronville before coming to San Diego. “Girls powerlifting is what’s really taking off. You see just as many girls lifting at the meet as boys. You used to go to a meet and just see a lot of boys, but here in the last couple of years, the girls have gotten up their numbers.” 

And girls aren’t only competing, they’re winning, at least in South Texas. Lifting for San Diego Saturday will be Brittany Trevino, who was a state runner-up in the 97-pound weight class in 2016, and Alex Gallegos, who was a third-place finisher in the 148-pound weight class as a freshman last year. Gallegos is lifting in a heavier weight class this season, and Valdez said the expectations for her as high.

“These girls are strong,” Valdez said. “Right now Alexis has a bench press of about 250 pounds and her goal by the time the season ends is 300 pounds.”

The Freer girls will also be competing in the meet, and they too bring some muscle. The Freer girls team was second out of 29 schools at the Bobcats Classic at Skidmore-Tynan High School Saturday. The Lady Buckaroos were led by a couple of strong finishes. Mariah Alaniz won the 105-pound division and Aleasha Aguillon won the 148-pound division. 

Alice is another school lifting in San Diego. Their girls team won the Zapata meet, which is their only meet of the season so far. The Alice girls had a couple of first-place finishes from Gabby Canales and Chloe Zapata. Canales won the 148-pound weight class and Zapata was first in the 198s.

Of course, the meet also has a boys division which should display some of the state’s top lifters, including Javier Rodriguez of San Diego, who won the 181-pound state title last year. In his only meet this season, Rodriguez won the 181-pound weight class in Zapata. His total of 1,250 pounds ranked as the best total in the region in that weight class.

The list of South Texas high schools participating in the meet includes Bishop, Robstown, Freer, Three Rivers, Benavides, Kingsville, Odem, Falfurrias, Riviera, Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco, Alice, Santa Gertrudis Academy, Hebbronville and San Diego.

The San Diego meet is a week before the Alice meet, which is Saturday, Jan. 28 at Williams Adams Middle School. The Alice meet is also expecting a large turnout. The schools participating in the Alice meet include Orange Grove, Beeville, Three Rivers, Alice, San Diego, Hebbronville, Freer, Robstown, Sinton, Ben Bolt-Palito Blanco, Mathiks, Santa Gertrudis, Agua Dulce, Taft and Benavides.