The huge grin on the face of North Beach High School junior Isabel Harnagy told the whole story, for those who were following it in the latter stages of the Washington State High School Powerlifting Championship meet, held last Saturday at NBHS, which sits about a block outside of Ocean Shores.
Over 200 young athletes from 20 high schools across the state, along with three or four times as many friends, family members and fans, came to the North Coast for the all-day event that crowned state champions in 10 boys and seven girls weight classes, and saw Shelton High School win both boys and girls team titles, while North Beach’s Lady Hyaks squad finished second.
Harnagy’s grin told those who were following her individual drama, one amongst the 100 or more stories of serious contenders for gold medals that day, that she knew her third round dead lift of 290 lbs. meant she would very likely leave the North Beach Hyaks’ “House of Pain” gym as the girls state champion in the 181 lb. class, the triumphant conclusion of an intensely close battle with three other girls that went down to the very last lift.
“I calculated what I had to do to win and that was my final lift,” she explained. Making it would leave her closest opponent with a nearly impossible lift of 330 lbs.
“I put my headphones on and started blasting my music. I knew I had to get that lift! As soon as I got the lift up, I was so happy because for me that was a personal record as well,” she exclaimed. “I’m really grateful to my coaches — after fighting the past two years to be second, it feels really good to be on top.”
“No one’s worked harder than that girl,” said coach Ric Dycus. “Izzy was there every day and outworked everybody.”
Harnagy was joined at the top by another Lady Hyaks junior, Arianna Salmond, who had virtually no drama en route to her state crown in the 220 lb. division. She jumped out to a 65 lb. lead in the squat lift and went on to win bench press and dead lift as well.
The coach revealed that she endured eye surgery the previous week, and “for her to perform the way she did, well, the results obviously are phenomenal and I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
Seniors Taylor Eang and Alexis Potter both finished second, at 123 lbs. and 198 lbs., respectively.
The Hyaks boys team was short handed and finished in an eighth place tie with Montesano. Senior Patrick Hyde led the team with a third-place finish in the 132 lb. class.
Dycus said earlier that his team has been in a rebuilding year, so he’s excited “to have two state champions coming back next year — we can definitely build on that.”
The coach said the North Beach student athletes will send a full team to the AAU Nationals in Lynnwood next month, the day after graduation. The Hyaks stunned the powerlifting world by winning the national meet last year, before going on to a medal harvest in the world and universe competitions last fall. Since then, they’ve found they can no longer sneak up on opponents.
“We’ve had a target on our back all year,” Dycus said. “It’s been fun to watch how our kids responded to it.”