Powerful performance: Dedication to excellence propels Three Rivers student

Three Rivers' Ashley Lopez presses 105 pounds on her second attempt in the bench press at the 1A/2A state powerlifting meet in Corpus Christi March 18. Lopez later pressed 125 on her way to winning a silver medal in the 105-pound weight class. She also squatted 270 pounds and pulled 245 in the dead lift for a 640-pound total. She finished 5 pounds back of Frankston's Ja'Miyah Burton.

Dedication to excellence propelled Ashley Lopez to a second-place finish in Texas at the recent Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association state meet in Corpus Christi, but the Three Rivers High School junior isn’t finished yet. She has her sights set on even greater accomplishments in the future.

“I just wanted to see what I could do as far as reaching my goals and going past them and being able to do more than I even thought I could,” Lopez said. “I didn’t think I’d have so many people helping one athlete. I really didn’t know that many people cared about powerlifting and believed in me and supported me. I really appreciate them.”

Her day routinely started at 5 a.m., and her mother and her uncle would help make sure she was at school for morning workouts. In addition to powerlifting, Lopez also plays tennis and competes in track in addition to her regular schoolwork.

While Lopez’s commitment is success is undeniable, it’s an effort that also involves many others behind the scenes.

“It’s not just about her — the coaches make sure she is under the weight limit (for her class) and I’ve also talked to (Three Rivers Independent School District Nutrition Director) Whitney Means,” said Lopez’s mother, Rebecka Lopez-Marquez. “Ashley gets salads for school at lunch every day during powerlifting season, and on weekends the whole family eats salads because we don’t want to tempt her with other food and get her off track.”

Lopez qualified to compete in the state powerlifting tournament in 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the state meet.

“We’ll never know just how well she could have done last year, but this year has just been really amazing. She had one powerlifting meet before regionals and then she qualified for regional, where she placed third,” Lopez-Marquez said. “She went into state thinking ‘I have to win this,’ which would have been awesome for her to get it her junior year. She has her sights set on winning it her senior year.”

Lopez said she had no idea what powerlifting was until a teacher and coach in eighth grade told her about it, and she decided she wanted to try it.

“Before that I was only focused on track and doing the best I could, but I decided I wanted to start lifting,” she said. “I didn’t do that great my freshman year but my coach saw potential in me and it set a spark in me to do better. I’m looking forward to powerlifting next year too, hopefully all the way to state.”

Lopez is coached by Andy Amaro, who has helped push her to do her best.

“Her drive and determination to be the best (stand out),” Amaro said. “Unfortunately we got started late in training this year but even starting almost four weeks later, she pushed herself every day in the gym and did all that she had to get it done. She never took no for an answer and pushed herself to the limit. Her work ethic as a student-athlete really defines who she is and allowed her to be where she is at today.”

Amaro said Lopez has also been an inspiration to her fellow students.  

“Most people knew she was going to get to regionals but when she made it to state, it inspired others to make a change in their mindset and work hard everyday,” he said. “I talked to several other student-athletes after we came back from the state meet and they told me, ‘if she can do it, then I can do it too.’ My response to them was, ‘you are exactly right and I am glad that you can see that it is up to you to get there.’”

Amaro said he feels fortunate to coach Lopez and is looking forward to great things in the future.

“I just want to say thank you to Ashley and her mom for trusting me this year as your coach,” he said. “I look forward to next year as she will be in contention to come back as the champion for her weight class.” 

One of the things that motivates Lopez is the desire to be a good representative of her school.

“Some people say, ‘Three Rivers? Where’s that?’ I want to do my best because I’m proud to say I’m from Three Rivers. Kids from smaller schools can do good things, and people shouldn’t underestimate us.”



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