First-year lifter had strong season for NHSPublished 12:11am Tuesday, April 24, 2012
NATCHEZ — Natchez High School powerlifting coach Joseph Johnson left the recruiting to his athletes, but Johnson said he’s glad they reeled in Avery Jones.
Jones, a sophomore, recently completed his rookie season as a powerlifter. And what a season it was: Jones finished fourth in the 181 weight class in the MHSAA Class 6A April 14. He squatted 400 pounds, bench pressed 205 pounds and dead lifted 550 pounds, for a total of 1,155 pounds.
“It was just an outstanding performance,” Johnson said. “I’ve been coaching powerlifting since 2000, and this is the first year that I’ve had a first-year lifter come to the team and perform extremely well.”
Jones, a safety for the Bulldogs’ football team, said he decided to give powerlifting a try during seventh-period football. He was lifting weights for his normal football routine, and members of the powerlifting team took notice, Jones said.
On their recommendation, Jones joined the powerlifting team. But Jones admitted he wasn’t totally sold on the idea of being a powerlifter at first.
“I was kind of hesitant, because when you hear powerlifting, you think you need to just be really strong, but that’s not necessarily the case,” Jones said. “You’ll get better as you go.”
Johnson said he could tell right away that Jones had potential.
“He exhibits some traits that my former state champions exhibited,” Johnson said. “He works hard, listens and is very attentive to directions and instructions being given to him.”
When he first started doing powerlifting workouts, Jones said the adjustment was somewhere in between easy and difficult.
“It’s difficult to adjust from seventh-period football workouts to powerlifting, but I got into the groove of it,” Jones said.
Jones said since football works out all parts of the body, it gave him a good base for powerlifting.
“You do more stuff in seventh-period football, but the things you do in powerlifting are more specific,” Jones said.
Johnson said he was happy to see Jones do so well in the regional, South State and state tournaments, and Jones said he wasn’t too intimidated to compete against powerlifters from all over the state.
“I was nervous at first, but once you get that first lift down, you’re good to go,” Jones said.
Now that he finished fourth in the state tournament, Jones said he’s grateful to everyone that helped him get so far.
“I have to put God first, because I think it’s a blessing that I did this good, and I couldn’t do it without Coach Johnson and my teammates pushing me,” Jones said.
Had someone told Johnson that Jones would finish fourth in the state tournament before the season, Johnson said he would have needed to see it to believe it, even though Johnson knew of Jones’ potential.
“My response would have been, show me,” Johnson said. “You always hear athletes boast about what they can do — even though Avery was not one of those athletes, but everyone was speaking highly of him.
“My impression was, show me, and we’ll see. When we get down to lifting the weights and banging and clanging, we’ll see what he has.”
With year one over, Jones said he wants to see if he can take things a step further in 2013.
“I want to do much better than I did this year,” Jones said. “I’m shooting for first. I have to keep working harder in seventh period so I’ll be ready for next season.”