A personalized weight room full of championship lifters is much more than Kyle Mickelson could have ever imagined three years ago.
"It was a struggle because in the beginning, we could only find time at the field house," Mickelson said of when he first founded the Moss Point girls powerlifting team. "It was really hard to get the girls to buy into coming in at four in the morning."
Through dedication, and a better practice schedule, the upstart Lady Tigers have become one of the premiere powerlifting programs in Mississippi, winning two state championships in just three years of existence.
Senior lifters Niya Cooper and Nadia Nicholson have been there from the beginning.
"At first, of course, I wanted to quit," Cooper said. "But now that it's my last year, looking back, it was all worth it."
"Some of the girls, as close as they (are) now," Nicholson said, "We had a lot of fun all (three) years."
Their 2017 championship roster featured Cooper and Nicholson along with seniors Destiny McCants and Courtney Sellers, juniors Diavian Cooper, Ai'Dora Shelby and Brianna Collier, sophomores Triniti Cooper, Alanna Gaines, Trinity Ackerman and Ashley Stallworth, and freshman Robyn Lee. With a clean sweep of region, south state and state championships in 2017, Moss Point looks primed to continue their success in the future.
"You know, as the bar gets raised, we just have to raise with it," Mickelson said. "I hope that it continues, I mean, I'm gonna do my best to do it, and so as long as we just do what we've gotta do, we should be fine."
Over at Gulfport, the Admirals also pulled off the championship trifecta this year, but in a tight race with D'Iberville for a state championship, that nearly didn't happen.
"I had to go up to them and say y'all win or we don't win," head coach Logan Fallo said.
Senior Keenan Magee needed to finish second in the 198 pound class dead lift, to his teammate Orlando Brown, for the Admirals to win state.
"It was more of a mindset thing," Magee said of when Fallo approached him with that news. "Not being selfish, more thinking about the team to win."
And win they did, clinching back-to-back 6A State Championships, and a few records along the way.
"My coach brought up the number 730 (pounds) one day while we were talking, and I was like well, I wanna pull that for state," senior Nicholas Dunomes said. "So I went up there and went for it."
With his individual state title in the bag, Nick Dunomes set the all-time Mississippi record for dead lifts with 730 pounds, just another way these Admirals continue to add to their legacy in the weight room.
"It's harder to build a deeper bond than when you're in here just beating yourself up," said senior Cain Sudduth, who set a Class 6A state record with a dead lift of 275. "When you're going through that together, I mean, I think we've built an unbreakable bond."
"Winning back-to-back, I can look at my guys in the eyes and know where they stand and where their hearts are," Fallo said. "That's the best feeling, knowing that their hearts are full."
Along with Magee, Dunomes, Brown and Sudduth, the Gulfport championship roster included Jaquan Foster, Carlos Thomas, Anthony McKay, Raynard Willis, Kendall Johnson, G'inarious Johnson, Jaylen Bradford and Lasavon Mangum.
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