Several of those lifters breaking the state meet marks at the Mississippi Coliseum claim Northeast Mississippi as home.
Keyauna Gaston, Jade Sullivan, Cameron Lowe and Bradley Starling were among several Northeast Mississippians to break records and win individual championships.
“We got better every year,” coach Ken Byars said after his Pontotoc High girls team finished in second in Class II, its best finish in his three years of coaching. “I’m proud of all of them.”
Shea Ferguson (105-pound division), Glenda Yat (114) and Brianna Farr (148) all won individual titles for the Lady Warriors. Yat set a new state high in the deadlift with a lift of 290 pounds.
The Nettleton girls team also placed second at the state meet, with a runner-up finish in Class I.
Starling, a senior at Mantachie High, set two Class 2A state records in the 148-pound weight class: total weight lifted with 1,240 pounds and in the squats with a 505 lift. Not bad for the 2008 USPAL national champion, who also happened to win a title at a 2010 SPL meet.
Timakis Bell also set a state mark in Class 2A. The East Webster lifter put up 605 pounds in the deadlift en route to winning the 275-pound weight class.
Going one more weight class up, at 308, Calhoun City’s Rokedrick “Turkey” Mays also took home gold.
Speaking of the big boys, Oxford’s Terry Johnson was tops in 5A’s 308-pound class with a 1,525 total.
Shifting to the smaller folk, Booneville’s Xzavier Rogers won his first title. Rogers, who ended up “playing it safe” on the day to make sure he wouldn’t scratch out on his lifts, took home top honors in Class 3A’s 123-pound division.
Ben Brewer of Itawamba AHS could call the Coliseum in downtown Jackson home as he won his third consecutive state title. Brewer – who was diagnosed with a rare form of salivary gland cancer in July of 2009, and is now cancer free – lifted in a weight division 33 pounds heavier than he had in the past, taking home the Class 4A gold in the 181s.
Sticking with the 4A lifters, Pontotoc junior Devonta Montgomery claimed his second consecutive title in the 242-pound division by lifting 1,525 pounds. He nearly set a state record in the deadlift.
“I almost got the state record,” said Montgomery, a beast on the football field. “It was going to be a 630-pound lift, and as soon as I was about to lock it out, it slipped right out of my fingers.
“But hey, I still got next year.”
Another junior winning in 4A – in his first year to compete, too – was North Pontotoc junior Mitchell Cunningham in the 220-pound weight class.
In their last years to compete, Zach Hand and Wade Simmons captured New Albany’s first individual state titles, winning gold in the 198- and 308-plus pound categories, respectively. The two lifters both achieved personal bests in the bench, deadlift and squats.
Other winners from Northeast Mississippi include: Lee Mars of Jumpertown, Calhoun City’s Tevin Hall and Skele Liles, Diesmon Robinson of West Point and Lafayette’s Toinella Marion and M.C. Pate.
The Journal will publish complete results from Saturday’s meet in Tuesday’s edition.
Contact John Wilbert at 678-1572