Powerlifters bring home state championship

Published 1:06 am Sunday, April 13, 2008

NATCHEZ — After coming so close last season, coach Joseph Johnson and the Natchez High powerlifting team knew they didn’t want to feel the sting of second place again.

The team, after finishing second at last year’s State meet, did one better this year, defeating second-place Madison Central by four points to take home the championship trophy.

“I think the biggest push for us was not winning state last year,” Johnson said. “We were the favorites to win it but kind of got the big head a little bit and didn’t get the job done. That motivated us to see it through to the end this year.”

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Two of the reasons that Natchez was able to see it through were seniors Johnny Griffin and Callon Green.

Griffin set a new MHSAA record in the deadlift, deadlifting 680 pounds in taking first place in the 242-pound weight class while Green finished first in the 181-pound weight class.

“Coach selected us as captains and we knew we had to take responsibility to win the state championship,” Griffin said.

Griffin said the key to the championship season was the togetherness of the squad.

“We were more advanced than the previous year,” Griffin said. “We worked really hard, tried not to miss any practices and show each other how to be teammates and deal with the obstacles we had to face.”

Green said the team used last year’s bitter loss in the State meet as fuel for this season.

“Last year we got the big head,” Green said. “This year we stayed focused all the way through. It was a big sigh of relief when we won. We had finally achieved our goal.”

Other Natchez High powerlifters placing at state were Xavier Hill, who finished fifth in the 114-pound weight class; Willie Newman, who finished second in the 248-pound weight class; Jarrett Ealey, who finished fourth in the 165-pound weight class; Jeremy Hammond, who finished fifth in the 181-pound weight class; Danny Thompson, who finished second in the 275-pound weight class and also set an MHSAA record by squatting 705 pounds; and Keith Dee, who finished second in the 308-pound weight class.

Johnson gave credit to Griffin and Green for the hard work they put into the season, as well as the rest of the seniors.

“They have been leaders from day one,” Johnson said. “Callon started as an eighth grader and Johnny has been with us for three years. I’m going to miss these seniors. This is the first year that seniors leaving is going to bring tears to my eyes.”

Johnson said the thrill of winning the state title really hasn’t sunk in yet, but a feeling of relief swept over him when the final results were tallied.

“It does feel good to get that monkey off my back,” he said.

While the team can celebrate a state championship this year, Green wanted to thank those involved with the program.

“We thank the community for supporting us,” he said. “It was a great season.”