NHS powerlifters in state finals

Published 12:13 am Tuesday, April 13, 2010

NATCHEZ — If anything can be said about Kevin Bailey and Jalen Anderson, it’s that they both have the power.

And because of that, the Natchez High School powerlifting duo will compete in the MHSAA Powerlifting State Finals Saturday at Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson.

Bailey will participate in the 181-pound class, and Anderson in the 123-pound class. Bulldogs powerlifting coach Joseph Johnson said the dedication of both Anderson and Bailey is what allowed them to reach the state finals.

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“Jalen is our senior, and has improved greatly this year in squatting and dead lifting,” Johnson said. “He’s up to the 400-pound range in both. To be 132 pounds and squatting 400-plus, that’s impressive, because it’s about three times his body weight.

“Kevin is our captain, and early in the season, he was really concerned that the team and myself maybe weren’t training as hard as we could. We had a meeting after practice one day, and Kevin really stepped up after that in keeping everyone’s focus on doing well. Naturally, we named him team captain.”

And it was Bailey’s leadership that allowed the young team to finish third in the regional finals and tied for fourth in the South State finals, Johnson said.

“The majority of our lifters this year were first-year lifters, and for a young team, they did extremely well,” Johnson said.

“What he did, that was a sign of leadership to me. Few athletes at every level, except for a select number, are willing to step up and address the performance of their peers. For him to step up like that, that says a lot.”

Although the team failed to make the cut for the state finals, Johnson said it’s still big for the Bulldogs program that two athletes would be competing individually.

“It’s really great to have athletes stand out in any sport,” Johnson said. “With power lifting, it adds to other sports. For instance, in football, the strength will translate onto the field. In the field portion of track and field, it helps athletes throw the discus and shot put farther.”

And powerlifting is something that is gaining a lot of momentum in high schools, Johnson said.

“I’m excited about the sport. I’ve seen it evolve over the years from something designed to get football players bigger to becoming a team sport. It’s really become a driving force in high school athletics.”