The University Of Louisiana's National Championship Weightlifting Teams

The University Of Louisiana's National Championship Weightlifting Teams

A Companion Book to the Documentary The Ragin' 13

image: weightlifter

The University Of Louisiana's National Championship Weightlifting Teams

The University Of Louisiana's National Championship Weightlifting Teams

A Companion Book to the Documentary The Ragin' 13

University of Louisiana’s National Championship Weightlifting Teams

by Warren A. Perrin, Attorney at Law

Part Four: Powerlifting

The History of Powerlifting at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette

By Travis Werner

The origin of UL Powerlifting can be traced to the arrival of Travis Werner in the spring semester of 1999. Werner had competed independently as a raw lifter in the AAU throughout his high school years in Pennsylvania. Werner enrolled at UL and immediately began training at the small student weight room housed in Olivier Hall. It didn’t take long before Werner’s 500-pound squats caught the attention of UL freshman Erik Bonneval, a 1998 high school state powerlifting champion from St. Amant High School. The two became fast friends and In March of 1999, Bonneval took Werner to the Louisiana High School State Meet, introducing Werner to one of his former St. Amant teammates who had recently joined the newly-formed LSU Powerlifting Team and to the St. Amant Coach (Paul Fletcher, 1999 USA Powerlifting State Chairman). The LHSPLA State Meet was unlike any powerlifting meet Werner had experienced as an independent lifter – the camaraderie, the noise, the hair-raising electricity of powerlifting as a TEAM sport! Werner returned home to Lafayette after that weekend, hooked on the idea of forming a team of his own at UL. A seed had been planted by the St. Amant team and soon it would sprout. Ragin’ Cajun Powerlifting would come to fruition in fall semester of 2000.

The first meet for UL Powerlifting was the 2000 USA Powerlifting Fall Classic at St. Amant High School. The team was a rag-tag group of 4 athletes that trained separately. Of the 4, two were unable to finish the meet. One quit the team immediately and the UL Powerlifting Team was now barely holding on – Travis Werner, Chip Perrin of Henry, and Jon Jones of Carencro. They put their backs together and forged ahead. Werner took on the role of Coach, Jones the team President. They trained together and dreamed of what their team could become. They trio attended the 2001 USA Powerlifting National Championships and scored enough points to defeat several full teams. The experience was exhilarating and they doubled down on their efforts to grow in size and skill in the years that followed. Werner graduated in 2002, but stayed on as Head Coach – a position that he would hold for 14 of the 20 seasons that would follow and a position that he holds presently.

In 2003, the Cajuns took a full roster to Collegiate Nationals in St. Louis and by 2005 the team was a serious contender, placing third at Collegiate Nationals in Baton Rouge.

The later half of the 2000’s decade introduced two passionate and dynamic student leaders to the program – Kirk Lavergne and Cameron Barrilleaux. Lavergne possessed tremendous organizational skills and Cameron’s ability to motivate and recruit were unparalleled. Through their contributions, the team captured its first Collegiate National Championship in 2009 and repeated in 2011 and 2012. 

Since the team’s inception in 1999 as a rag tag trio wearing iron-on shirts, the UL Powerlifting Program has grown to become a National Powerhouse. Over the past 20 years, UL Powerlifting has produced 88 Collegiate All-Americans, 27 individual Collegiate National Champions, and dozens of international competitors. 

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Collegiate NationalsMen’s TeamWomen TeamHead CoachTeam PresidentGold Medalists
2001—Alexandria, LaDid Not PlaceDid Not PlaceTravis WernerJon JonesTravis Werner
2002—Killeen, TxDid Not PlaceDid Not PlaceTravis WernerJon Jones
2003—St. Louis, MoDid Not PlaceDid Not PlaceTravis WernerScott Miller
2004—Omaha, NeDid Not PlaceDid Not PlaceTravis WernerScott MillerAshley Sanders
2005—Baton Rouge, La3rd PlaceDid Not PlaceTravis WernerScott MillerScott MillerChayse Melancon
2006—Miami, Fl4th PlaceDid Not PlaceTravis WernerChuck SarverScott Miller
2007—Killeen, Tx4th PlaceDid Not PlaceTravis WernerMatt Gibbens
2008—Denver, Co2nd PlaceDid Not PlaceTravis WernerKirk LavergneMike BroussardJustin Doan
2009—Baton Rouge, LaCHAMPIONS!3rd PlaceTravis WernerKirk LavergneMike BroussardMelissa ScottSam Bennett
2010—Orlando, FlDid Not Place4th PlaceKirk LavergneCam BarrilleauxMike Broussard
2011—Scranton, PaCHAMPIONS!3rd PlaceTravis WernerCam BarrilleauxMike BroussardNelson BoutteJeff Melancon
2012—Baton Rouge, La3rd PlaceCHAMPIONS!Travis WernerCam BarrilleauxDana WallaceAlex JacksonJayla Richardson
2013—Killeen, Tx3rd Place4th PlaceTravis WernerKyle RamseyDana Wallace
2014—Orlando, Fl4th Place2nd PlaceTravis WernerDerek WardLauren DenigerMykeal Maes
2015—Atlanta, GaDid Not PlaceOut of top 5Travis WernerDerek Ward
2016—Providence, RI Did Not PlaceOut of top 5Kyle RamseyAndrew Reiss
2017 - San Antonio, Tx5th PlaceOut of top 5Kyle RamseyDale Guillory
2018 – Texas A&M2nd Place5th PlaceKyle RamseySarah UseAndy BuiCarmen Reiss
2019 - Columbus, Oh2nd PlaceOut of top 5Kyle RamseyJared NaquinAndy BuiCarmen ReissJared Naquin
2020 - State College, PaCancelled Cancelled Andrew ReissJared Naquin
2021 - Baton Rouge, La4th Place3rd PlaceAndrew ReissJared Naquin
2022 - Lombard, IlTBDTBDTravis WernerJared NaquinTBD
Travis Werner
1999 USL Student ID
The first meet. The 2000 USA Powerlifting Fall Classic at St. Amant High School. October, 2000.
Chip Perrrin
Jon Jones
Richard Salurie
Travis Werner
The 2000 University Cup at Nicholls State University.
Jon Jones
Travis Werner
Chip Perrin
The 2000 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2001 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2002 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2003 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2004 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2005 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2006 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2007 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2008 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2009 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2010 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2011 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2012 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2013 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2014 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2016 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2017 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2018 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2019 UL Powerlifting Team
The 2020 UL Powerlifting Team
UL’s single greatest powerlifter. Mike Broussard of Cecilia. One of only a small handful of Collegiate Lifters to garner 4 gold medals (2008-2011). Mike was routinely recognized as “Best Lifter” at the Collegiate National Championships. His dominance ranks him among the greatest collegiate powerlifters of all time. Mike competed in the 148 pound class and had personal best of 589 squat, 440 bench press, and 578 deadlift. He was the total package.
Travis Werner UL’s first Collegiate gold medalist in 2001
Scott Miller was the first superstar for UL .2003-2006 Four time All-American Two time gold medalist
Jeff Olcsvary went on to become a professional bodybuilder after his All-American days as a UL Powerlifter.
Winners of a kolache eating contest on a morning television show in 2004
The “board press” has long been a staple of team training to overload the lockout portion of the bench press.

The old Olivier Hall weight room, centrally located at Cypress Lake, was as much a training facility as a gathering spot for UL powerlifters. At any time, you would find a collection of lifters there. Some training, others hanging out.

Scott Miller 2005 Open Nationals
Ashley Miller and Chuck Sarver at a meet in Baton Rouge in 2003. Sanders became the first female gold medalist for the Cajuns in 2005 and Sarver became team President in 2006.
Brennan Riche was the master of weight manipulation, moving up and down from 180 to 250 pounds in rapid order to maximize team points. An All-American in 2013 and 2015. Now a chiropractor in the Dallas area.
Phil Richard is a lifetime powerlifter. Richard competed for Rayne High, was an All-American for UL in 2014, and remains active in the sport as an athlete and referee to this day.
The Reiss brothers prepping for a heavy squat. Andrew Reiss would go on to serve as President and Head Coach for the Cajuns.
The Red Bull chalk containers have long been a tradition of UL Powerlifting.
Olivier Hall, now demolished, was a cherished home for the early lifters.
National Champions! The 2012 Lady Cajuns
Chayse Melancon at the Alumni Banquet in 2013.Melancon won a gold medal in 2005 and set a Collegiate American bench press record of 325 pounds in the 132 class.
Chip Perrin at the Alumni Banquet in 2013. Chip was one of the founding members of the program in 2000.
All-Americans at the Alumni Banquet. Mary Diana Bradley – 2009, 2010Tayler Miller – 2012Abby Holmes Goss – 2006, 2009. Abby is credited with much of the development and success of the Lady Cajuns. Prior to Abby joining the team in 2005, there was never more then 3 females amongst full men’s squads. Abby made it her personal mission to change that. And she did.
The chain served no purpose, but Pat Labat’s screaming always worked.
The greatest single season of all goes to Nelson Boutte in 2011.In a 4-month span, Boutte won collegiate gold and led his team to a national championship (finishing more than 20 points ahead of the second place team), won Open Nationals and set an open national record squat of 578 at 132 pounds, and won a Junior World Championship. All was accomplished between April and August of 2011.
Jordan Levers successfully transitioned from distance running to powerlifting.
Kyle Ramsey did it all for UL Powerlifting. 2x National Champion3x All-American Team President Head Coach. His 804 squat at age 19 at the Junior World Championships was mind boggling. Nobody has ever matched the intensity of Ramsey.
Jennie Hollier set a Collegiate American squat record of 335 pounds in the 114 class at this meet, the 2002 University Cup. In the days that followed her knee swelled. It was a career ending injury on the lift. A marginal bench presser at the time of the injury, Hollier turned all of her focus to the one discipline she could still perform. Hollier went on to become a regular competitor in the World Bench Press Championships and set the American Record of 275 pounds in the 114 class.
UL Powerlifting picked up three lifters from Northshore High School that would be instrumental in the National Championship years.
Sam Bennett
Cameron Barrilleaux
Collin White

Preston Savoy, the modern era superstar bench pressing 500 pounds in 2020.

Nelson Boutte helps Stephanie Hamilton into a tight squat suit in 2012.
Top lifters of the 2015 Men’s Team outside of the modern team weightroom in Bourgeois Hall.
Jamie Reiss
Brennan Riche
Dale Guillory
Andrew Reiss
Tyler Martinez
Denisha Melancon, All-American freshman out of Lutcher High School.
Trey Ryder of Abbeville. All-American in 2016 and 2017.
Nelson Boutte, the day of weigh-ins.
Travis Werner and Kirk Lavergne. The team took tremendous leaps in regard to professionalism and organization when Kirk joined the team in 2006. Kirk would go on to serve as head coach of the Cajuns before a tenure as president of the Louisiana High School Powerlifting Association.
Melissa Scott – 2009 Collegiate National Champion.
As a powerlifter, you will learn to sleep in incredible situations. All night trips and long meet days can make any surface feel comfortable. Tayler Miller in photo.
All-Americans splitting a bag of pork rinds at the medal ceremony of the 2008 University Cup.
Demetrius Thomas – 2008 All-American
Abby Holmes – 2006, 200
Chris Wright – 2008, 2009, 2011
Jeff Melancon – 2011
Darren Harrell out of Marksville High School. The first Louisiana High School lifter to bench press 500 pounds, Harrell pressed 555 in his freshman season at UL. To his right is Dana Wallace, one of the most decorated female lifters of UL. Wallace was well under 5’ tall and typically 94 pounds body weight. She dominated the flyweight division for years. A 4x All-American and 2x gold medalist, Wallace was a vocal team leader that rallied the Lady Cajuns to their national championship in 2012.
Cameron Barrilleaux was team president through the national championship years. He was a tremendous leader. Every lifter mattered to Barrilleaux regardless of skill  and the team ballooned to tremendous numbers under his care.
The 2021 Collegiate Nationals were directed by Travis Werner and the Cajuns.
Alex Jackson was the single most dominant female in UL women’s history. UL actively recruited Jackson’s best friend – Dana Wallace. Wallace agreed to lift for the Cajuns under the condition that Jackson accompany her. The Cajuns unknowingly stuck gold twice, securing both Wallace and Jackson. Jackson is an active competitor to this day and is recognized as Louisiana’s strongest female of all time.
Preston Savoy is the modern day superstar. Pound for pound, his performance at the 2021 USA Powerlifting Cattle Festival Meet was the single greatest performance of any UL Powerlifter…ever.He is the current team captain and training for 2022 Collegiate Nationals.
Jared Naquin Individual National Champion in 2019, two time All-American, and the only 4x Team President. Naquin leads the current squad in their quest for the first national championship in a decade.
In Derek Ward’s senior season, in which he served as team president, he successfully cut from the 145 pound class to the 116 class to earn All-American status.
Mykeal Maes – 2013 gold medalist. Winning on the final deadlift.
Tyler Bergeron was a mountain of a man that saw a promising football career come to an end after a series of concussion. He converted to powerlifting and  was a 2016 All-American. He was also the back spotter of countless meets during his years as a Cajun.
Roland Whitney bench pressed 451 pounds in the 145 pound class in 2019.Flanked by team president Jared Naquin, Preston Savoy, and head Coach Andrew Reiss.
A team shirt in honor of a pre-nationals speech given by Coach Werner in which lifters were asked to trust the process. “Get on the bus. Werner’s driving”.
It was impossible to outwork Andre Sigure. His workouts took up to 5 hours.He placed 11th at the state high school meet for New Iberia Senior High in 2011. Then he came to UL and trained with obsession. He became one of the strongest UL lifters of all time, earning All-American status in 2014.
Werner celebrates with team following the first National Championship win in 2009.
Carmen Reiss, sister of the Reiss brothers. Carmen found national and international success. She won collegiate gold in both 2018 and 2019, while older brother Andrew served as Head Coach of the Cajuns.
Jared Naquin squatted nearly 700 pounds at 182 pounds body weight. That kind of weight leaves a mark.
Father Bryce Melancon was an All-American member of the 2009 National Championship Team. He with drew from the University one month after the victory and entered the seminary.
Andy Bui – modern flyweight superstar. Collegiate National champion – 2018, 2019 Junior World Champion – 2019
Three former team presidents have a good time at the annual Biggest Bench on the River in 2013. Derek Ward
Cameron Barrilleaux
Kyle Ramsey
Jeff Melancon was a successful teenage bodybuilder prior to becoming a national powerlifting champion for the Cajuns in 2011.
3x All-American Ricky Hu falls asleep in a most peculiar position following his lifting at the 2012 National Championships.
Cowbells and Screaming. You will always know when a Cajun lifter takes the platform at Nationals.