By Robert Chapman/Special to the Journal
JACKSON – The Mississippi Coliseum hosted more than 140 teams competing in the day-long MHSAA state powerlifting championships on Saturday.
One of those teams, Lafayette High School, walked away with its first boys state title in addition to capturing a few individual first-place finishes.
The Commodores showed how successful a team can be with a common goal and hard work.
“Our guys did a great job all year,” said Commodores head coach Dennis Robbins. “They stayed focused and pulled through for us. We only have two seniors leaving, so we’re going to look good next year if we keep our focus and continue to work hard.”
Lafayette senior Jeremy Williams closed out his final year with a first-place finish in the 275-pound division.
“Today was my best day ever,” the senior said. “I squatted 600 pounds.”
Junior Daquez Sommerville believes there’s a solid future for the Commodore powerlifting team.
“The more we work the stronger we get,” he said. “We get better as we go.”
Calhoun City chalked up two individual champions, T.J. Clanton and Lindsey Liles, as well as a second-place finish for the boys team.
Clanton, a senior, said he enjoys the challenge the deadlift offers.
“It makes me work harder because it’s the hardest event,” said Clanton, who was a 2009 Daily Journal All-Area Second-Team football selection.
A junior who entered Saturday’s meet among the Elite 11 girls powerlifters, Liles echoed his statement.
“You can’t fake a deadlift,” she said. “You have to do it right.”
Tupelo’s Chris Donald, a football player who has committed to Northeast Mississippi Community College, did it right and then some in the 220-pound division in Class 6A. The Super 12 lifter took home a first-place finish by lifting a total of 1,505 pounds on Saturday.
Curtis Virges of West Point is starting to get used to winning state titles in Jackson. Fresh off the Green Wave football team’s Class 5A state championship win at Jackson’s Memorial Stadium, the star defensive lineman and Mississippi State commitment was on top of the Class 5A 308-pound category with a total of 1,545 pounds lifted.
Speaking of star football players, Itawamba AHS’ DeShawn McGaughy, a running back and Itawamba Community College signee, won his third state powerlifting title in as many years, his second straight in the 198-pound division.
Also stepping to the Class 4A podium from Itawamba AHS was Ben Brewer in 148-pound division. Brewer is also a football player.
Perry Liles, Calhoun City’s coach and the state meet’s director, said powerlifting in Mississippi has progressed since 1993 from a single-classification event to what is seen today: an event involving six boys and three girls classifications with nine platforms being used on the floor of the 6,500-seat Mississippi Coliseum in nearby downtown Jackson.
“We’ve grown over the years,” Liles said. “We’re excited that we are up to 144 teams. We’ve definitely seen growth, and having it in the Mississippi Coliseum makes it one of the largest competitions I’ve ever attended.
“I’m really proud of the coaches who have helped me out and have worked with their teams.”
He also said judges and volunteers have played a key role in getting this event to where it is today.
“I can’t do this by myself, and they have really helped me out,” the state meet director said.
Just as the future of the sport seems to be growing statewide, Liles spoke of some new changes in the works for MHSAA powerlifting. New teams and changes in the way judging is done is on the top of the list for next year.
“Our judges did a great job this year, but we can always be more efficient,” said Liles, who turned 46 on Saturday.
Contributing: Brandon Speck and John Wilbert.