Natchez High lifters set sights on state title

Published 10:13 am Tuesday, March 27, 2007

As Saturday approaches, the Natchez High powerlifting team is working hard to avenge shortcomings of the past and bring a state championship to Natchez.

“I feel this team is a special team. They have a chemistry that none of the other teams have had,” Natchez head powerlifting coach Joseph Johnson said.

This year 10 out of the team’s 13 lifters qualified for the state meet. So far the team has won the district and south state meets. The team has also finished third three times at state, and has won three district titles and three south state titles.

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“State has somehow eluded us, but hopefully we will take care of that on Saturday,” Johnson said.

One of the reasons for the Bulldogs’ success has been the lifting of Johnny Griffin.

The 17-year-old high school junior has been lifting since he was a freshman.

“I am excited about going to state. All the hard work is paying off,” Griffin said.

So far this season, he has finished first in all of his qualifying events. He said his best event is the dead lift, where he has cleared 630 pounds. Last season Griffin finished fourth at the state meet in the 220 pound weight class.

“I have never been in this situation before,” Griffin said. “I feel like I am doing pretty good.”

A second reason for this season’s success has been the work of four-year lifter, Callon Green. Green finished second at state last year in the 181 pound weight class. This year he said he has his sights set on first.

“This is familiar ground, but there is still the pressure to win. A lot of people expect us to win, and it will be a let down if we don’t,” Green said. “This is motivation for me and the team.”

This season Green, 16, has finished first in the regional meet and at south state. He said his best event is the bench press, an event in which he has cleared 290 pounds.

Johnson said this season, the story of Gideon in the Bible has been a real motivation for him and his team. He said like Gideon, his team has endured many hard battles, both inside and outside the locker room to get to where they are now.

“I has become our focus, and we all share that vision,” he said.

“This team is real special. They have a closeness,” he said. “They motivate each other, and help lift one another up.”