Covington High’s powerlifting team fell just nine points shy of winning an LHSAA state championship in March.
The Lions made up for it in a big way on Sunday, claiming an even bigger prize.
Covington outscored second-place finisher Alexandria 89-73 to win the national championship in Orlando, Florida.
John Burford, in his third season as head coach, was still a bit hoarse on the bus ride back home on Monday.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” Burford said. “It gives the whole school a little surge in school pride. It gets everybody interested in powerlifting. They see a lot of people being successful and they want to come out and be a part of it.”
It was Covington’s second national championship after winning in 2014 in Kileen, Texas.
That first title came two years ago when the school won its only LHSAA state title.
This national championship though, came on the heels of losing to West Monroe at the LHSAA state meet.
That was all the motivation Covington need.
“It helped us refocus,” senior Shawn Warren said. “Coaches talked to us and told us how much we needed this win.”
Buford said he could see his team’s hunger heading into nationals.
“That (loss at state) was a lot of motivation,” Burford said. “Our expectations year in and year are to win state and win national. After how state played out, it was discouraging. But we had some bright spots with five sophomores, and as coaches, we had to make sure the kids did what they needed to do to win the national championship.”
It was the third straight year a Louisiana team won the national title. Alexandria won it last season.
But senior lifters Warren and Tyran Garrett made sure the championship trophy headed back to the New Orleans area this time around.
Warren won the 148-pound weight class, and Garret won in the 181-pound class.
Garrett, who also won national titles as a freshman and a junior, was named Most Outstanding lifter.
He won state titles as a sophomore and a junior but was disqualified at the state meet this season.
Covington also got first place finishes from sophomore Trai Chatman in the 114 class and from Logan Rogers (198).
Burford, who has been at Covington for four years before becoming the head coach three years ago, doesn’t have a secret ingredient to his program’s success.
“It’s just been a lot of hard work,” Burford said. “When we first started seven years ago, we almost had to build it up from the foundation. We’ve been very blessed to have good, strong kids and they have bought into our coaching and our philosophy.”
In addition to the four first-place finishes, Covington got a second-place finish from Matthew Kuss in the 132-pound weight class and a third-place finish from Thomas Anello (181).
Andrew Biggers (165) earned a fourth-place finish, Dylan Garrett (198) and Kole Parr (275) finished fifth in their respective classes, and Logan Pennington (114) was sixth.
“We’ve had a lot of success individually and with that the team stuff started to follow,” Burford said. “We’ve been very fortunate to have some really good kids who have led by example. They aren’t vocal leaders, but they work their butts off. In my opinion, that’s the best kind of kids you can have.”