By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – Jerrell Howell was told he’d never walk again. Bailey Wray is the strongest high schooler in Mississippi history.
Both captured gold medals Saturday at the MHSAA state powerlifting meet at Mississippi Coliseum.
Pontotoc junior Wray broke a 10-year state record for total weight at 1,900 pounds. He also set a squat record of 775, walked away with a gold medal in the 308-plus pound class and helped the Warriors to a Class 4A title.
“It’s just phenomenal to see, especially when he does it so effortlessly.” Pontotoc coach Mickey Mapp said. “Colt Bramlett also had an outstanding day.”
Pontotoc had three first-place finishes, Monique Loftis in the 97-pound girls class, joining Wray and Bramlett, who broke three state records himself, including the total mark in the 198-pound class by more than 100 pounds.
Turns out, nothing has been able to stop New Albany’s Howell from walking, not even 465 pounds of weights.
Howell not only broke the state squat record Saturday in the Class 4A 132-pound class with a 465-pound lift, he took a gold medal back to Union County.
The senior has had four knee surgeries, stemming from a lawnmower accident when he was 8. Doctors said he’d never walk and considered amputating. Months later he proved them wrong by hopping out of a wheel chair and never looking back.
“Ever since then, I’ve been wanting to play sports,” Howell said. “I got to high school and introduced to powerlifting and really enjoyed it. God, I can’t thank Him enough. He just allowed me to (walk.)”
He has since played baseball, ran track and played football and is in his third meet here. He said at times he can feel some pain in the knee.
With a brace on Saturday, he added 25 pounds to the total he and coach Ron Price agreed to before lifting. He had lifted 485 back home this week.
“I thought they had made a mistake,” Price said. “He said, ‘No, I’m gonna get it.’ … He didn’t let the obstacles defeat him.”
East Union won the Class 2A championship, outscoring Calhoun City 50-30. The Calhoun City girls outscored Bruce 63-50 for the Class I title.
Oxford won Class 5A.
Results from the championships, which ended late Saturday, will appear in Monday’s Daily Journal.