Smith becomes two-time powerlifting state champ

Published 7:00 am Thursday, April 20, 2017

POPLARVILLE — In the weight room at Poplarville High School, Turan Smith is known as “The Champ”, but around the rest of Mississippi he is known as the two-time 4A powerlifting state champion for the 132 pound weight class.

Powerlifting contests consist of three different events: bench, squat and deadlift. Last year, as a junior, Smith put Poplarville on the powerlifting map after accomplishing a feat not many thought was possible.

The most Smith ever deadlifted at the time was 425 pounds. But in order to become the state champion, he had to lift substantially more, 465 pounds. Smith said he recalled his family, friends and his fellow students cheering him on as he straightened his legs in the lift to take home his first state championship.

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“I’m still not sure how that happened. I just didn’t want to let anyone down so I did everything I could to get the weight up,” Smith said.

This year, the senior entered the state competition as the returning champion, but once again had to make a comeback to wield the state championship medal once again, defeating the same competitor that beat him in the South State Championship.

“This year was harder than last year,” Smith said, who came in 2nd place in the South State Championship to South Pike’s Thomas Downs.

Smith, who has been powerlifting since freshman year, said the pressure to win was heavier as the returning champion, but he had the same mentality as the year before.

“Between everything that coach has done for me, my parents and my family, I didn’t want to let them down. There was a lot of hard work going into getting ready for this year,” Smith said.

To start the state competition, Smith managed to stay 20 pounds ahead of Downs through the first lift, the squat.

Smith squatted 370 pounds and then benched 210 pounds.

However, Downs put up 225 pounds on bench to go up by 15 pounds before heading into the final lift of the day, the deadlift.

“I knew he couldn’t deadlift a whole, whole lot, but he was getting up there in weight. I was just trying to stay 20 pounds ahead of him on every set in order to win,” he said.

On Downs’ last deadlift set, he put 440 pounds on the bar, which meant that if he successfully lifted that weight, Smith would have to once again deadlift 460 pounds in order to come away as the champion, again.

However, Downs was not able to lift the 440 pounds leaving Smith open to take the win by deadlifting 455 pounds, which seemed lighter than usual, he said.

“My adrenaline was pumping and I had so much support keeping me going from my family to nearly the entire school behind my back,” Smith said. “My coach has been telling me all year to go out with a bang and do something crazy. I’m just glad I was able to do that.”

Smith won the state championship with a total score of 1035, beating the second place lifter, Keshun Doyle with 1010. Downs finished third with 1005 points.

Smith said every medal he earned throughout his powerlifting career carries a memory he will never forget, and most of those memories came in the weight room, training with his friends and teammates on the football team.

“They all call me ‘The Champ’ and told me ‘You can’t get second or third place; you have to repeat.’ I can’t thank them enough for pushing me to my limits and helping me achieve this,” Smith said. “There’s a lot of memories down in the gym that I’ll never forget.”

Smith will hang up his football cleats and powerlifting sneaks to go study Instrumentation Technology at Pearl River Community College next year.