Natchitoches native overcomes obstacles on road to breaking powerlifting records

By Corey Poole



Natchitoches native Brittany Basco became the national collegiate champion in the 43 kg weight class and broke the bench, deadlift, and total record at the 2016 USA Powerlifting Collegiate National Championships in Providence, RI.

“My connection to Natchitoches definitely played a vital role in my success because I have so many people providing motivation and support from hours away,” said Basco. “For example, a number of people contributed to myNAPF (North American Power Lifting Federation) Championship trip to Canada with donation and moral support. Even though I have made Baton Rouge my current home, Natchitoches will always be my hometown. I couldn’t be more thankful for the support I get from those who roots.”
Basco has a diverse athletic background which started with pole vaulting, powerlifting, and soccer in high school after playing softball for 13 years.

“Lifting was my favorite part of our workouts so I decided to join the powerlifting team,” she said. “I didn’t realize that I would actually be so good at it. I started competing and routinely placing in the top three spots during competitions. I went to high school nationals and placed second my senior year.”
After graduating high school, Basco decided to continue pursuing her passion for lifting and was selected as a member of the LSU powerlifting team during her freshman year.Her accomplishments during high school positioned her to have a good chance of winning the collegiate nationals.Unfortunately, she suffered a hand injury while on a mission trip which required time-off to recuperate. Shortly after returning to training, she experienced another injury, this time to her neck, which again further delayed her goals for the collegiate nationals.

“I lost a lot of headway as a result of the injuries. After returning to training, I shifted to a higher weight class, which I found to be more difficult from a competition stand point; however, I still managed to place fourth in the nation during collegiate nationals and captureseveral records during other meets.” Basco allots some of her success right out of recovery to her decision to maintain a vegetarian diet. This is counter-intuitive for a power-lifter, but she feels it gives her a strategic advantage for maintaining weight class.

Basco hoped to build momentum as a result of her strong finish during freshman year, but she developed another injury shortly after the start of her next semester – this time a far more significant injury with a ruptureddisk.She took the entire semester off and went from lifting almost three times her body weight to relearning how to lift her legs and body.

“It was excruciating pain,” she said. “I lost a huge portion of my muscle mass. I needed to find an alternative means of exercise that could supplement my healing process. This prompted me todiscover my newest passions: acroyoga and aerial silks.”

The flexibility and strength required for acroyoga and aerial silks helped to re-build Basco’s base strength which allowed her to transition back to lifting. With steadfast determination and a “now or never” attitude, Basco competed in a qualifying meet for the collegiate nationals in Mobile, Alabama. She was able to placefirst in her weight class and secure a number of the All-American records. She used the momentum generated from her success in Mobile to secure a commanding finish at second place at the collegiate nationals in Orlando, Florida.

“I thought that I would take a break for a little while until I got invited to compete in Canada at the NAPF Championship,” said Basco. However, she found that this break would short-lived when she received an invitation in the mail. “I was so excited that I couldn’t even finish reading the letter. Luckily my mom was there to help me through it.”

Basco won second place in open and in the Junior division at 43 kg at the NAPF Championship along with breaking a deadlift record.

After her trip to Canada, She returned to LSU to rush for her sorority and realized that she was experiencing some physical discomfort. After getting an MRI she was officially diagnosed with a bulging/ruptured disk and Spinal Bifida Occulta. This set back required Basco to yet again travel down the road to recovery.

After weeks of physical therapy and progressive lifting to re-build strength, Basco was able to return to competing for the LSU Powerlifting Team and get another shot at winning the collegiate national championship. Weighing in just shy of the weight class limit at 42.3 kg (93.06 lbs) and two ounces less than her toughest competitor, Basco was confident that she was positioned for success. However, a slow start to the competition with her squat required her to make up ground with her deadlift. She was able to bounce back and finish with a 248 lb record breaking dead lift and become the first LSU raw collegiate national champion and the first LSU collegiate national champion since 2013. She also broke the team’s raw bench press, deadlift, and total records in the 43kg weight class.

Although Basco’s injuries have at times interrupted her path, she has continued to remain resilient and dedicated to her goals, finding new and creative ways to build upon her already established and recognized achievements. When reflecting on her setbacks with respect to the broken records, she states with complete confidence, “Ruptured disks aren’t forever, but training is.” It’s hard to not believe those words coming from someone who has accomplished so much in the face of adversity.

Large tree limb down near Tommy’s Grocery


Natchitoches Parish Sheriff’s Deputies and Natchez Police arrived on the scene of a large tree limb down on La. Hwy. 494 near Tommy’s Grocery at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, May 31.

Motorists traveling through the area should drive carefully and expect delays.

La. DOTD has been contacted.

2016 Memorial Day Observance at The Natchitoches Parish Veterans’ Memorial Park

By Kevin Shannahan


Kevin’s Gallery

Natchitoches Parish’s annual Memorial Day remembrance was held May 30 at the Veterans’ Memorial Park before a capacity crowd of veterans, families and community members. Master of Ceremonies Truman Maynard opened the program followed by Dr. Michael Honzell, pastor of United Baptist Church, who offered the opening prayer, then by the Lakeview High School Air Force Junior ROTC Color Guard’s presentation of the colors.

The pledge of allegiance was led by James Gay, who has the distinction of serving in WWII, the Korean War and Vietnam. Two NSU faculty members, Sara Puryear-Dunn and John Dunn lent their talents to the ceremony. Sara sang the National Anthem and John played Taps in memory of the veterans who lost their lives in the service of the country.

Major Bob Kellogg, USAF, (ret), Junior AFROTC Instructor at Lakeview High School, spoke about remembrance and good citizenship. Becky Ham and Rev. Frank Fuller, pastor of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Winnfield, read the names of veterans who died during the year, a solemn tradition since the Natchitoches Veterans’ Memorial Park opened. Donna Mason and Dee Fowler updated the audience on the progress made on pavers and projects at the park. Maynard introduced the oldest veteran present, 93 year old Bob Harling Sr., who served as a B-25 co-pilot in WWII. He is also the father of Robert Harling Jr., author of Steel Magnolias. The ceremony concluded with a closing prayer given by Rev. Fuller.

Demons add to national meet travel party as 4 x 100 squad qualifies

5-28-16 4x100 Eugene bound

Northwestern State’s 4 x 100 meter relay squad of (l-r) Amir James, Micah Larkins, George Flaviano and Ty Shilling became the 11th Demons unit since 1980 to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, running a 39.85 time Saturday at the NCAA East Preliminary Round


It took George Flaviano 24 hours to get redemption he sought from a Friday disappointment. Ty Shilling only had to wait a couple of minutes.

The last two runners on the Northwestern State 4 x 100 relay team were beaming Saturday evening after a 39.85 time, fifth in the fastest of three qualifying heats, was just enough to earn the Demons a trip to Eugene, Ore., for the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

Their relay teammates, Amir James and Micah Larkins, were already headed west after each qualified Friday in the 100 meter dash at the NCAA East Preliminary Round Championships, where the top 12 finishers in each event advance to the national meet June 8-11.

“Before we knew we had made it, I gave praise to God that we finished the race healthy, and then once the time came up on the board, I praised God again for allowing us to run fast enough,” Flaviano said.

Axsom family lost everything – Loss is complete

Axsom Family House Fire Fund – Click Here to donate

Hello, our names are Josh, Steve, John, Kalo, Benjamin, and Silas Axsom. Our parents, Matthew and Sarah Axsom, and our younger siblings Travis and Anna Laura lost everything in a house fire yesterday, Sunday the 29th of May.

They did not have any insurance and the loss is complete. Only the slab is left. To make matters worse, our parents had cashed out and had their entire retirement present in the house, so the loss is truly catastrophic. The cause of the fire is still unknown, but believed to be electrical.

Our parents would never ask for anything, but for those of you who have asked how you can help, we are creating this fund that will hopefully help them start over.

This was our childhood home, everything our parents had. Just the fact that so many of you have asked how you can help has been so encouraging. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers for our parents and siblings at this time.

The Axsom Brothers



Cleco donates fans to help seniors stay cool and save money this summer

In preparation of summer, Cleco donated almost 700 fans to the Natchitoches Council on Aging, the Campti Seniors Group and 20 other agencies across the state to help seniors stay cool and manage their electric bills.

Shirley Turner, Cleco’s vice president of customer experience, said fans can make a big difference during hot, summer months and significantly cut energy bills.
“We recommend setting the thermostat at 78 degrees to keep electric bills manageable along with using a fan which makes the air feel 10 degrees cooler,” said Turner. “Doing these things will keep the temperature comfortable while saving money.”
According to Turner, air conditioners are typically the largest energy users in a home.

“Customers on a fixed income can benefit the most from adjusting their thermostats,” Turner said. “Using less energy can help them lower their electric bill, leaving them with money for other essentials.”

Other energy saving tips include keeping curtains and blinds closed during the day and using heat generating appliances, such as clothes dryers or the oven, in the evening when temperatures are cooler and air conditioners are not working as hard.

Cleco has donated fans to agencies serving the elderly for the past 15 years.

“Through the support of Cleco employees, customers and communities we more than doubled our fundraising goal,” said Jennifer Cahill, associate communications representative. “This support allows us to donate more fans to more agencies.”

Senior citizens living in the Cleco service territory should contact a participating agency to request a fan.

Volunteers needed for Folk Fest


The Natchitoches-Northwestern State University Folk Festival is seeking volunteers to help with this year’s event, which will take place July 15-16 in air-conditioned Prather Coliseum on the NSU campus.

Volunteers are needed to work from 3-11 p.m. Friday and from 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday. Anyone interested in volunteering can email the Louisiana Folklife Center at or call (318) 357-4332.

Perks of volunteering at the Folk Festival include free admission to all events on the day you work, a free commemorative t-shirt in return for five or more hours of volunteer time and the added benefits of meeting and working with the artists, musicians and other volunteers participating in the Festival, according to Dr. Shane Rasmussen, director of the Louisiana Folklife Center. Volunteers do not have to be NSU employees, students, residents of Natchitoches or residents of Louisiana. Volunteers will receive no financial remuneration for the hours they work.

“We couldn’t do this without the valuable and deeply appreciated help of our volunteer corps,” Rasmussen said. “Thank you so much for being willing to help keep the Natchitoches-NSU Folk Festival alive and kicking.”