Natchez High School junior Avery Jones performs a squat lift during a weight lifting session with fellow members of the school's football team on Thursday afternoon. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)
Natchez High School junior Avery Jones performs a squat lift during a weight lifting session with fellow members of the school's football team on Thursday afternoon. (Jay Sowers \ The Natchez Democrat)

Archived Story

Natchez High’s Jones sees improvement during powerlifting season

Published 12:01am Saturday, April 20, 2013

NATCHEZ — Natchez High School junior Avery Jones isn’t going by his placement in the state powerlifting meet to gauge how much he’s improved in a year.

Jones finished fifth in the 181 weight class in the Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 6A championship April 13 in Jackson. It was one place lower than what he finished in the state meet in 2012, but Jones said he’s seen noticeable improvement, even if he didn’t do as well as he’d have hoped.

“Last year I only benched 205 (pounds) max,” Jones said. “This year, I got up to 230. I know I’ve gotten stronger.”

NHS powerlifting assistant coach Ivan Evans said he’s happy with the progress of Jones, who is only in his second year of powerlifting.

“He progressed the whole season,” Evans said. “At the start of this year, he couldn’t do 200 on the bench press, and he did 230 at the state meet. All three of his lifts (at state) were personal bests, and he got better every meet.”

Jones is still lifting — albeit to get ready for football — and he said he’s got his eyes set on first place when he competes as a senior next spring.

“I want to get better every year,” Jones said. “It’s frustrating (not to finish higher), but I want to get better and shoot for first place.”

After beginning his powerlifting career under then-head coach Joseph Johnson, Jones spent last season under the tutelage of Evans and Steve Davis, who acted as co-head coaches this season.

“They both gave me different pieces of advice, and two heads are better than one,” Jones said.

Evans described Jones as a quiet leader who lets his lifting do the talking.

“He’s not very vocal, but he’s the ultimate competitor,” Evans said. “He will not be outdone. He’ll see what others do, and he’ll say, ‘Put it on the bar, coach.’”

With football weight lifting under way, Jones is building himself up in anticipation of his senior season this fall. A strong safety, Jones said his dedication in powerlifting should pay off on the field.

“It’s going to give me an advantage, because the stronger you are, the better you are on the field,” he said.

“The main thing I do (as a safety) is run first, and you have to be able to get off blocks and make tackles, and lifting makes you stronger for that.”

Even though football lifts are for football instead of powerlifting, Jones said the lifting he’s doing now will help for powerlifting as well. Evans said he’s had a discussion with NHS offensive coordinator Trey Woodard, who’s running NHS’s offseason football lifting, about keeping Jones in “powerlifting shape,” since the sport is so important to Jones.

“The lifts coincide,” Evans said. “Early next (powerlifting) season, when football lifting is also going on, he may not have to come to powerlifting practice, because he’ll get most of it done in seventh-period football.”

Jones is the son of Dolly Hargrave and Gene Jones.

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