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Only a couple blocks from Sharyland High School is Evolution Gym, owned and operated by Eustalio Villarreal. Training individual athletes in strength and conditioning, Villarreal’s slogan for the gym is, “We build champions.”
Of the 25 or so athletes Villarreal works with, none is more important to him than his daughter Briana Villarreal, a world record holding power lifter.
Briana epitomizes champion. The recent Rattler graduate completed a four-year career in powerlifting, that included winning the THSWPA (Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association) State Championship as a junior and then tying for first at the USAPL (USA Powerlifting) High School Nationals her senior year. In addition, Briana is distinguished for holding the dead lifting world record for her age group and weight. Competing in the 148-lb division, Briana can lift an astounding 385 pounds. In addition, she benches 170.
Of course, having her dad as her trainer in their own gym has helped.
“[My dad] did a lot,” Briana explains while reflecting on her career. “Since he is my dad, I would work my hardest to make him happy. He trains me super hard and I know I can’t slack off because he is my dad.”
Briana is the second member of the family to compete in powerlifting. Older sister Bianca also competed at Sharyland, taking third at state before graduating in 2007. Younger brother Marco also competes, in addition to playing defensive tackle for the Rattlers.
Briana, however, has a unique opportunity to take her lifting abilities to the next level. Originally considering attending the University of Texas-San Antonio, Briana recently changed her mind in favor of the University of Houston-Downtown.
“I really like Houston. The coaches are really nice and [the athletes] all have the exact same passion that I have.”
Briana will be coached by Dr. John Hudson, a former powerlifter himself. Under his direction, the program has been the recipient of the last three WABDL (World Association of Benchers and Dead Lifters) National Championships.
It was the success of her new school that prompted Briana to change her mind.
“Houston is a lot more accomplished.”
No time will be wasted before Briana starts competing on the bigger stage. Freshman orientation was last week and the end of July will be the team’s first competition, to be held in Dallas. The meet will be one of many that will span the entire year.
He father is sad but excited to see his most prized athlete move on to college. Besides being an accomplished athlete, Briana is in the top twenty percent of her graduating class and was awarded academic as well as athletic scholarships to her new school.
“We are exceptionally proud of her.”
Needless to say, Briana has evolved to be quite the champion.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.