At the state powerlifting meet at Waco’s Extraco Events Center on Friday, Melissa senior Priscilla Adejokun was attempting to regain a state title she’d won as a sophomore. At first, it looked as if she’d succeed as she strove in the 259-pound weight class, according to Melissa Girls Athletic Director Claude Webb, who was in attendance.

Per Webb’s written description of the day: “Adejokun led by a substantial margin … after her first two lifts. With only the deadlift remaining, which is Priscilla’s best of the three lifts, the crowd not only anticipated Priscilla winning the gold, but possibly setting a new state record.”

But this day, as Webb described it, Adejokun felt a pain in her lower back as she prepared for the lift. And in attempting to raise 470 pounds, “far less than her best,” she was unable to do so on three successive tries.

“Priscilla did all she could to lift the bar, but the pain in her back made it impossible. … (A)fter that final, failed attempt, every single one of her competitors approached Priscilla, offering hugs and condolences as the ultimate sign of respect. And then I saw something I had never seen before. From my spot in the balcony with all the spectators, kneeling … to snap pictures, I saw Priscilla reach up and wipe away tears. I’ve known Priscilla since she was in the fifth grade and I’ve never seen her cry. At that moment, this incredible young lady, who is not only a phenomenal athlete, but also an incredible student, vocalist, pianist, member of the color guard and this year’s Homecoming Queen, allowed herself the briefest of moments to let her emotions reveal what a great competitor she is.”

Melissa powerlifting coach Jacob Alford was just as moved.

“I am thankful that I have had the opportunity to coach Priscilla,” he said. “She is a wonderful person and has had a magnificent run as a four-time state-qualifying powerlifter. She is one of the most humble and selfless people I have ever met. Only minutes after her last failed attempt, Priscilla was seeking out her competition to congratulate them on a job well done. She is an awesome person and she has many good days ahead of her.”

Webb offered this background as well: “You see, at last year’s state competition, Priscilla had not only won the gold, but had also broken the state record in the process, only to be disqualified on a rare uniform technicality. True to her character, she accepted the decision graciously and immediately went to cheer on teammate Bri Cole, who ultimately garnered the bronze medal.”

Webb concluded: “In all my years as an educator and coach I’ve never known a student/athlete that I respected more than Priscilla. Like every other person in that arena, I was anxious to see her redeem the prize that was taken from her last year. In the decade that I’ve served at Melissa ISD, she ranks as one of our top performers — not only as an athlete, but also as a person. That’s why, if you had been there and witnessed her effort, you, too, would have cried after her final attempt. I know, because I did.”