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Columbus takes weightlifting seriously


Adam Minichino



Preparation for football season never ends. 


In the winter, otherwise known as the "offseason," work for the next football campaign merely changes names. 


In the state of Mississippi, football blends into powerlifting season so student-athletes can continue to get bigger, stronger, and faster for the next year. 


The Columbus High School powerlifting team is taking its preparation seriously. 


Columbus'' Brian Henry and Rickey Knox took first place last week at the Class 5A, Region 2 powerlifting meet. 


Their finishes earned them a spot at the North Half State meet Feb. 27 at DeSoto Central High School. 


"We have been working very hard," Knox said. "We went straight into the powerlifting season from football season. We have been adding weight trying to get stronger." 


Henry won the 132-pound weight class with a combined total in the bench press, squat, and dead lift of 855 pounds, while Knox won the super heavyweight division with a combined total of 1,195 pounds. 


Chris Richardson (1,080 pounds in the 181-pound weight class), Justin Berner (1,165, 242), and Lavorus Petty (1,140, 275) took third in their weight classes. 


The top three finishers advanced. 


Columbus finished third in the eight-team region, and could have placed even higher if two of its other competitors had attended the meet. 


Knox said everyone has gotten significantly stronger from their workouts. He said he has improved 80 percent, while his teammates said they have improved 75 to 80 percent. 


The goal for all of them is to be different players for the start of next football season. They all said they are more confident and are focused on helping the football team erase the memory of last season''s 1-10 finish. 


Columbus coach Grady McCluskey would have liked for the Falcons to finish at least one spot higher, which he feels the team could have done with the other two lifters, but he was pleased with what the five athletes accomplished. 


"Since we came here last January, we have been in the weight room extensively," said McCluskey, who is an assistant football coach on Bubba Davis'' staff. "It is basically a football workout, and the kids have gotten strong. Sometimes it takes a year or two for it really to kick in, but it is starting to kick in with some of these kids." 


McCluskey said powerlifting season is critical, especially for programs like Columbus, that are hoping to gain confidence and to build something. He said the promise in the school''s lower classes gives him plenty of reasons to be optimistic for a bright future. 


"The kids have been super," McCluskey said. "They are really enjoying themselves, and they are really excited they won some medals. It just gives them something to build on. All five of them have a chance to go to the state meet." 


For Starkville, Prinston Henderson took second in the 198-pound weight class to move on to the North State meet. 


Sam Moore (132), Billy Shed (148), and Kelsey Thomas (165) took fourth in their respective classes. 


West Lowndes had six athletes advance to the North State meet March 7 at Calhoun City. 


Eddie Tucker won the 308-pound class, Dearius Douglas was second at 114, Brandon Hill was second at 198, Gerald Sanders was third at 132, Herman Phillips was third at 263, and Korey Wilson was third at 183. 


Laquantis Brooks (181), Marquis Millers (123), and Jalen Douglas (187) were fourth in their weight classes. 


As a team, West Lowndes took second to Calhoun City. 


New Hope''s DeMarcus Madison took second in the 181-pound class at the region meet. He had a squat of 405 pounds, a bench press of 230 pounds, and a dead lift of 505 pounds for a total of 1,140 pounds. 


His effort qualified him for the North Half State meet March 6 at Itawamba AHS. 


New Hope''s Devin Turner also took fourth in the 165-pound class. He had a squat of 350 pounds, a bench press of 225 pounds, and a dead lift of 425 pounds for a total of 1,000 pounds. 


Caledonia High super heavyweight Alex Sherrod also won his weight class. 


Caledonia High football coach Jason Forrester said Sherrod beat his next closest competitor by nearly 100 pounds. 


Information on West Point and East Webster powerlifters who advanced to the next meet couldn''t be obtained be presstime. 


Members of the Starkville High School girls powerlifting team also advanced to the next meet, but information could not be obtained in time for deadline. 




n Players chosen for Blackwell game: Eleven players from the Greater Golden Triangle area were selected last week to participate for the North team in the annual Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game. 


Amory''s Brandon Anderson, Columbus'' Billy Autrey, East Webster''s Johnthan Banks and Tanner Roberson, Noxubee County''s Termarcus Conner, Enoch Glenn, and Warren Jones, New Hope''s Jonathan Guerry and Josh Ferguson, Aberdeen''s Marcus Hinton, and West Point''s Gabe Rupert were selected. 


New Hope coach Michael Bradley will serve as an assistant coach for the North team. 


The game, which will be played July 16 at Mississippi College in Jackson, pits the state''s best outgoing seniors who weren''t picked for the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic against one another in the summer affair in a South vs. North format. 


The game, formerly known as the Mississippi High School All-Star Football Classic, was renamed after Blackwell, late director of the Mississippi Coaches Association, in 1994. 



Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.


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