ALEXANDRIA — Dutchtown senior Hayden Willis came to the Allstate Sugar Bowl/LHSAA Boy’s State Powerlifting Meet hoping to win a medal and set a new record. He ended up making history.
The 196.3-pound student successfully deadlifted 730 pounds Saturday, setting a state record in Division I and achieving the biggest lift in Louisiana High School powerlifting history in any division. “I knew it would be a state record,” said his coach, Wade Hooper, “but I didn’t know that (it would be the biggest lift ever).”
Willis’ record-setting lift was the highlight of the day that saw champions crowned in Division I (5A schools), Division IV (2A schools) and Division V (1A and class A, B, and C schools). Alexandria Senior High was the Division I champion with St. Paul’s finishing as runner-up. Calvary Baptist earned the Division IV title with Winnfield runner-up while Delhi earned the Division V crown with Cedar Creek runner-up.
Willis, who has only been competing in meets for 2½ months, rushed to hug his coach after the lift. “I almost lost that, I’ll be honest,” he told his coach. “That was the hardest deadlift of my life.”
A defensive end and linebacker on the football team, Willis said he knew coming into the meet that he had a shot at the record.
“When I got to 700, I knew I could get it,” he said. “When I came here, I wanted to win, but I was more worried about this (the record) than anything.”
Dutchtown’s coach said Willis was one of the main reasons the school has a team.
“I taught Hayden last year, and heard about his strength in the football weight room,” said Hooper, a former powerlifter at Bolton High School in Alexandria, Louisiana Tech and internationally. “He begged me to start a team. I couldn’t be happier or prouder. This is a great way to start off our first year.”
Outstanding lifters in boy’s competition Saturday were:
• Division I, Lightweight Ahmad Coleman of Holy Cross and Heavyweight Hayden Willis of Dutchtown
• Division IV, Lightweight Declan Lockwood of Northlake Christian and Heavyweight Philip Legeler of Calvary Baptist
• Division V, Lightweight Wesley Launey of Sacred Heart Ville Platte and Heavyweight Matthew Thibodaux of St. Mary’s Catholic
Saturday’s action concluded a three-day tournament at the Rapides Parish Coliseum that saw nearly 1,000 student athletes compete for team and individual titles. Officials estimate total attendance for the event was 2,525, which was 125 more than the previous year.