2018 Heard County State Championship Medal Winners (Front L-R): Duncan Googe, Kevin Hendrix, Jaden Moreland, Komari Clark, Andrew Leak, Jakab Moon (Back L-R): Jonny Laster, Carlton Williams, Sam Brown, Matt Nilsen, Jacob Stephens, Luis Vasquez, Michael Cheney, Brenden Thompson, Jaidan Cameron, and David Wilkins (Not pictured Aaron Beasley)
(Louisville, GA) — A large group of Heard County High School athletes and coaches traveled to Jefferson High School in Louisville, GA Saturday where they scored the school’s unprecedented fourth GACA Class AA State Weightlifting Championship.
The Braves have been the class of the state competition over the last six years winning the title in 2013, 2014, 2016, and now 2018 while earning a state runner-up finish in 2015 and 2017.
The Braves had a school record 17 athletes score points for the team by earning top six medals to finish with 88 points ahead of second place host Jefferson County (61 points) and third place Washington County (56 points).
The event is broken down into 10 weight classes and scored based on the power clean and the bench press lifts. Individuals who place in the top six in each class score team points which determines the state champion.
Senior Luis Vasquez and junior David Wilkins led the way for strength coach Kyle Yates and the squad by walking away with individual state titles in their respective weight classes.
Vasquez’s win in the 206-225 class was his second straight individual championship and third straight point finish at the meet. He lifted an impressive combined weight of 665 pounds.
Perhaps the most shocking finish of the day came via junior back-up football player David Wilkins, an athlete known for his love of the iron and consistent efforts in the weight room. Wilkins came away with an awesome total of 525 in the 151-160 pound weight class to earn his first ever medal at state.
Earning elite runner-up finishes at the meet were senior Kevin Hendrix, junior Komari Clark, junior Andrew Leak, senior Carlton Williams, and junior Jacob “Big Kountry” Stephens.
Stephens followed up a sixth place finish in 2017 and brought down the house with an awesome bench press of 425 pounds in the unlimited 246 and up weight class.
Big Kountry may have finished with an even higher bench weight but just missed on 450 in an attempt to win the individual crown over the first place lifter from Fitzgerald.
2018 GACA Class AA State Weightlifting Champions
Junior starting offensive lineman Brenden Thompson scored an excellent third place finish in the unlimited weight class. Big Brave lineman made a lot of noise at the meet as Jaidan Cameron also earned a fifth place medal in the unlimited class.
Other Brave pointers/medal winners included Jakab Moon (4th), Jonny Laster (4th), Jaden Moreland (4th), Michael Cheney (4th), Matt Nilsen, (6th), Duncan Googe (6th), Aaron Beasley (6th), and Sam Brown (6th).
“This is just awesome. Even though we won — most important thing was that all of our kids had great lifting days today with several new personal records and just did a great job hitting their lifts — not missing your lifts is what we preach all the time,” said Coach Yates after the meet.
“It’s these kids not me or Coach Barron or any of us coaches — we are in the weight room with them every day but it is these individual guys that are putting in the work and they deserve to be called state champs.”
Yates says the fact that such a broad variety of students at HHS enjoy weightlifting makes it extra special.
“That’s the unreal thing about Heard County is that everybody lifts — it doesn’t matter if you play a sport or if you’re in the band or a club — everybody just comes in there and works and this gives this event gives those kids something to work for too. A kid like Jonny Laster coming in there and power cleaning 315 is just amazing to see. I’m so proud of all these guys today,” added Yates.
As they usually do, the group traveled up to Augusta and Friday and stayed overnight before heading to Louisville early Saturday morning. Brave head football coach Tim Barron talked to the kids after the meet about the class they showed during the trip.
“I’m awfully proud of how you kids behaved and carried yourself at the hotel this weekend,” Barron told the group after the meet. “You don’t always see that in society today and everywhere we go people always brag on you and that makes me most proud of you all.”
Another West Georgia area team, Mount Zion won the Class A State Title for the second straight year at the same meet.