By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal
Jessica Patterson needed an extra credit, not extra muscle, when she took up powerlifting in the ninth grade.
She got both.
Patterson, now a senior at Nettleton High School, will participate in her final state championship meet Saturday in Jackson with nine of her Lady Tigers teammates.
“I’ve gained about 30 pounds, but most of it is muscle,” said Patterson, who’ll compete at the Mississippi Coliseum in the 181-pound class in sport’s three events – bench press, squat and deadlift. “I can really tell it in the size of my arms and legs.”
The added strength and power in her arms and legs has benefited Patterson in her other spring sport – fastpitch softball.
“I’m hitting the ball a lot farther,” said the Tigers’ outfielder. “I can tell I’ve gained power by how hard I hit the ball.”
Nettleton powerlifting coach Chad Lindamood said girls who lift can definitely see changes.
“It makes a difference,” he said. “Girls are always afraid of getting big. It makes them leaner and more defined. Jessie has a good, strong frame.”
Patterson is one of three senior softball players who lift. The others are pitcher Michele Hester and catcher Haley Parker, both Daily Journal All-Area fast-pitch selections in 2010.
“It’s helped me a lot,” said Hester, who pitched Nettleton to a second consecutive state title last season. “My arm’s a lot stronger. I can pitch a lot longer; I’m not as tired.
“It’s also helped me with hitting the ball.”
Nettleton, a second-place finisher at the state powerlifting meet last season, is the lone area high school competing Class I.
Five of the Lady Tigers were named the MHSAA’s Elite 11 first team and second team. The first team members are Jade Sullivan, 105-pound class; Cameron Lowe, 114; Ashley Pitts, 148 while the second team members are Parker, 132 and Marianna Young, 114.
“Two of those five (Lowe and Young) are freshmen,” Lindamood said. “It’s impressive that we have five of the top lifters in the state.”
Calhoun City’s Lindsey Lyles, 165, was also named to the first team while Lafayette’s M.C. Pate, 97, and Pontotoc’s Brianna Farr, 148, were named to the second team.
In Class II girls, Itawamba AHS, Lafayette, New Albany and Pontotoc have lifters qualified.
In Class III girls, Oxford and Starkville have entries.