Lightweight lifters make VHS, WC heavyweights in upcoming season

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 19, 2001

[01/19/01] By the end of the powerlifting season in April, Vicksburg High hopes to attend to some unfinished business. For now, the Gators will settle for getting off to a good start.

VHS, which returns two individual state champions and most of its lifters from a team that finished third in the state last season, hosts the season-opening Vicksburg Invitational meet on Saturday. Weigh-in begins at 8 a.m. and competition starts at 10 a.m. in the VHS gym.

It’s the first step on the road that VHS coach Robert Erves hopes will end in the school’s first state powerlifting championship. The Gators won their first district title since 1993 and first North state title last season, but finished third at the state meet behind champions Madison Central and crosstown rival Warren Central.

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“We’re going to get in there and try to go farther than we did last year, as far as goals,” Erves said. “It’s kind of hard to come back as a champion and repeat. You’ve got your work cut out for you. Everybody’s going to be shooting at you. You can’t relax, you’ve still got to work.”

Also competing Saturday will be Gulfport, Natchez, Greenville, T.L. Weston, Yazoo City and Warren Central, which edged the Gators by a single point for second place at the 2000 state meet.

The Vikings, in just their third year of competition, also have a returning state champion, 114-pound Henry Jackson. The Vikings lost super heavyweight state champ Stephen Montgomery to graduation, but Jackson should lead a strong group in the lighter weight classes.

James Judge, the team’s only senior, finished second to VHS’ Michael Ross at the state meet in the 132-pound class last season and junior Jay Barlow went to state in the 123-pound class.

“The thing you have with them is experience. Two years of meets, two years of dealing with judges and referees and rules, two years of understanding what it means to go in and compete in a weightlifting setting,” WC coach Sean Brewer said. “They understand where they are, what kind of poundage they need to be pressing toward to make the right moves as far as making a place.”

Brewer said the Vikings who will host the division meet on Feb. 24 have a lot of new lifters on the squad this season, and Saturday’s meet will be a good indication of their progress.

“I don’t know how well we’ll do this weekend, but we’re gauging for April 6 and 7,” Brewer said, referring to the state meet. “The goal for this weekend is to get a starting place. We know about where we are in our weight room. What we need to do is go out there and gauge what we can do in a competition setting, and see what other people are doing too.”

Leading Vicksburg are Ross and 123-pound state champ Von Mixon. The lightweights aren’t the Gators’ only strongmen, however. Terrance Collins won a division title last season and was third in the 220-pound weight class at the state meet, while senior Tavares Hatchett was third in the 198-pound class at state and Vance Gray advanced to state in the 181-pound weight class.

Like WC, the Gators will have several newcomers trying to make a mark. Erves said Saturday was a good opportunity for them to do just that.

“What’s good about this is we can jell. It’s a point where you can see what you’ve got, come together as a team, and go from there,” Erves said. “Everybody’s got first-meet jitters, especially the new guys that have never lifted at a meet before. They’re going to have those butterflies, but once they … get started, it’s over with.”