April 3, 2009
Alex Sherrod doesn''t want to settle for second place this year.
One season after being the runner-up in his weight class at the Mississippi High School Activities Association State Powerlifting meet, Sherrod has his sights set Saturday on a championship.
A stint with the Caledonia High School boys basketball team might have delayed his training, but he has regrouped and made significant progress and said he is ready to win a state title.
"I have been working hard at it and getting better every day," said Sherrod, who will compete in the super heavyweight division.
Weigh-ins for the boys and girls state championships at the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson will be today, and competition begins at 8 a.m. Saturday.
The cost of admission is $8 per person.
The area will be well represented. Class 1A East Webster leads all area schools with seven participants. West Lowndes (Class 1A) has three, while Aberdeen (Class 3A), West Point (Class 4A), and Columbus (Class 5A) each have two competitors.
Louisville (Class 3A) and Caledonia (Class 4A) each advanced one boy to the state championships.
No girls from the area advanced to the state meet.
Competitors will have three attempts in three disciplines (squat, bench press, and dead lift). Their totals in each event will be totaled to determine the champion in each weight class.
Scratches, or failed attempts, will count against the competitors.
Like many powerlifters, Sherrod started to compete in the sport six years ago to help him prepare for football. The 6-foot-3, 377-pound junior defensive tackle/right guard said he has improved the most this season in dead lift and in the bench press. He figures he improved in each discipline 25 to 75 pounds this season.
Sherrod hopes his success in powerlifting helps him attract attention from college coaches. So far, he said he has attracted interest from Itawamba Community College. He plans to continue to work hard to make a lot of other college coaches notice him.
Jason Forrester, who coaches Sherrod in powerlifting and on the football team, said Sherrod has done a lot of work in the past couple of weeks to recapture his powerlifting focus.
Forrester believes Sherrod can make some weight gains from the regional meet last month.
"He typically has (made a jump) and sometimes he has gone up as much as 20 pounds in a lift," Forrester said. "Sometimes it is a little more depending on the situation and getting a little adrenaline flowing.
"Now that he is out of basketball and into powerlifting he has gotten his flexibility a little better and he has gotten more depth on his squats. I expect him to do a good bit better."
Sherrod agrees and feels he has what it takes to bring home a state title.
"I can improve a lot of my strengths and go at it," Sherrod said. "I think I can improve the most in the dead lift because I think that is the one I am strongest in."
West Lowndes'' Brandon Hill also returns to Jackson intending to deliver a better showing.
"It is refreshing," Hill said. "It makes me feel I have something to work toward and that I have a chip on my shoulder so I can put in work and get revenge from last year."
Hill said he worked out at home on days he didn''t lift weights at school. He said he did pushups and worked on a weight bench to keep him focused on his goal to get to Jackson and to do well.
Last year, Hill scratched out at the state meet. This year, the 6-3, 205-pound junior has his sights set on a top finish.
West Lowndes coach Bobby Berry, who also coaches the football team, said it was the Panthers'' goal to qualify more athletes for the state meet, but he said all three of the young men who will compete in Jackson have worked hard to realize their goal thanks to some tough competition in the district against Calhoun City and East Webster.
"They worked every day almost and they continue to work hard," Berry said. "It was something they wanted to do and they were conscientious about. Every day they wanted to work to get better."
Gerald Sanders, a 5-9, 133-pound freshman, missed an opportunity to qualify for the state meet last year because he got sick before the regional meet.
Eddie Tucker, a 6-1, 285-pound junior, finished fourth in his weight class last year and just missed a chance to advance to the state meet.
Both hope this is the year they can make their marks.
"Tucker is going to get out and work and try to do what you ask him to do to the best of his ability," Berry said. "Sanders has a lot of raw talent. To be as small as he is, he can lift a lot of weight. He does a good job at what he tries to do."
Sanders said it feels good to realize an opportunity to go to Jackson. He said he has listened to coach Berry to make the most of a healthy season.
"I ate well and I lifted better this year and I just didn''t get sick," Sanders said.
Tucker hopes he can match his teammates'' accomplishments.
"I am going to try to go down there and show them that we have good athletes at West Lowndes and that we ca hang with anybody," Tucker said.
Chance Carden, Clayton Hudspeth, Jaqualin McCurry, Jermaine Hollingshed, Timarkis Bell, Jacob Harris, and Hunter Cunningham will represent East Webster.
Jimmy Owens will compete for Louisville, while Xavier Robinson and Decedrick Quinn will compete for Aberdeen.
Delsmon Robinson and Curtis Virges will represent West Point, and Chris Richardson and Lavorus Petty will compete for Columbus.
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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