n MHSAA’s state meet set for today at the Mississippi Coliseum.
BY JOHN WILBERT
Tupelo High powerlifters Deauntay Payne and Kelsey Richey are going to have a long day today.
In the morning, the two seniors will be taking the ACT college entrance exam on the campus of Jackson State University.
By the afternoon they will be lifting some serious weight at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. The two will be hoping to win individual titles and lead Tupelo to a team title at the 2009 MHSAA State Powerlifting Championships.
The “lighter lifters,” or simply those in the smaller weight classes, will begin lifting at 8:15 this morning. The “heavy lifters,” such as Payne and Richey, will take to the floor of the Coliseum at 2:30 this afternoon.
Payne, the top lifter at last month’s Class 5A North half meet with a total of 1,515 pounds, just missed out on the state title last year as he finished in a tie for first with Gulfport’s Michael Lacy. Due to Payne weighing more than Lacy in their weight class, the individual title, however, went to Lacy.
Payne’s closest competition at the North half meet was Denzel Scott of Madison Central, and the Jaguars are the favorite heading into today’s Class 5A team competition, according to Tupelo coach Lamar Aldridge.
“With a team that has 10 guys competing, you got a pretty good advantage,” said Aldridge, whose team has seven athletes competing today. “The more kids you have competing the more chances you have to score.”
But Aldridge wouldn’t quite say that Madison Central is a lock to win the state title, even though on paper they look mighty impressive.
“You can’t do it on paper, though,” Aldridge said. “One kid may miss the weight class or get hurt. If you don’t make the weight class you have to lift in another class. They move you up in a weight class.
“You also have judges. Some judges may be a little more strict than others, so you just gotta go out there and perform the best you can.”
Other Northeast Mississippi boys teams hoping to contend in the Class 4A competition today are Itawamba AHS, Lafayette County and Pontotoc. Both Itawamba and Lafayette have five athletes competing, while Pontotoc has four.
“Around 32 points each year is what it takes to win a state championship,” said Itawamba coach Benji Ewing.
Itawamba has three lifters with the best regional totals at their weights – Tywan Market at 114, Rico Shumpert at 220 and Aquino Jones at 242.
“We actually have more of the mid-range lifters,” Ewing said. “Middle to heavy is where our strength lies overall. All of those guys got a really good chance of placing.”
North Pontotoc High School will compete in Class 3A today with four lifters, while Mooreville will do the same with three.
East Webster and Calhoun City will be well-represented in Class 1A boys as the Wolverines will be sending seven athletes and the Wildcats 12 – the maximum a team can have compete in the state competition.
East Webster’s Jacob Harris will be looking to defend his state title in the 275-pound weight class.
Joining Harris in Jackson will be sophomore Timarkis Bell, who won last year’s 242-pound class.
“We’ve done real well so far,” said East Webster coach Doug Wilson. “We got two guys that are really the anchors on our team that are really, really strong in their weight classes.”
On the girls side, Lafayette County has six Class II state qualifiers, while Pontotoc has four.
Nettleton, meanwhile, has six Class I state qualifiers competing in the day-long event.
“I got six girls who qualified,” said Nettleton coach Chad Lindamood. “This is only our second year. We almost got here with eight.
“I think we all have a pretty good shot. I feel pretty good because there are a lot of teams with only seven or eight people.”