The 2014 USA Powerlifting High School National Championships were held in Killeen, Texas, March 28-30. The Woodward Academy Knights walked into the meet as 8-time defending team National Champions and over the past 9 years have crowned 20 individual champions. Killeen was the host of WA’s first trip to Nationals in 2004 and was also
the home of their 5th team title in 2009.
The powerlifting season began in November and followed the same road to the Nationals as previous years. There were two meets in Nebraska and WA’s home qualifying meet prior to Nationals. Those meets served as good preparation for the larger meet, but also were needed in order for the lifters to qualify for Nationals.
After the break, see how WA performed at Nationals.
On Wednesday, March 26, the 10 member team boarded a charter bus and traveled the 902 miles from Woodward, Iowa to Killeen, Texas. The next day, the team saw the venue for the first time and checked in their equipment with competition beginning early on Friday.
Competitor entries were down a little from previous years, but the quality of top lifters in most of the weight classes was top notch and gave the WA lifters some serious challenges. At the end of the meet, Woodward Academy walked away with four 2nd place finishes. In a couple of those weight classes, the lifters not only had to battle the competition, but had to find some real grit to score well.
Deontae Andrews (148 lbs.) was the most consistent WA lifter, scoring a perfect 9 for 9 in his lifts. It is rare for any lifter to do that at Nationals and only a few WA athletes have done so. Unfortunately for him, he
ran into a juggernaut of a lifter in his weight class and was competing for runner up. On his final deadlift, he scored a new personal best that launched him to a second place finish.
Julius Walker (220 lbs.) is best known for his squat. After lifting his opener, he struggled with balance and missed his next two attempts that would have easily put him in the lead. He rebounded in the next event and bench pressed a new Academy record of 291.5 pounds to put himself into contention going into the last stage: the deadlift. He had a chance to take the title with a final lift, and proved he was strong enough to pull it, but
two of the judges found a technicality and it therefore did not score. He finished in second place.
As the last lifter, Marquise Smith (242 lbs.) entered the final portion of competition 77 pounds behind first place. He lifted well in the squat and bench press, but so did the leader. The lead appeared to be insurmountable by any reasonable standards, but he did make up some ground in his first two lifts. Prior to Nationals, Marquise’s largest deadlift in competition was 430 pounds. Three weeks prior at the home meet, he missed a 480 deadlift.
Having already secured second place, the coaches presented the challenge to Marquise and according to head coach Guthrey Fritz, “he responded the exact way a coach would want him to react in a meet.” On his third attempt, he lifted 512.5 pounds, 60 pounds over his previous max, securing a first place finish. Marquise did not know the weight going in and the lift shocked not only the coaches, but Marquise and his competitor as well who congratulated him after the meet.
Marquise, along with Tony Hogan (132 lbs.) walked away from Killeen, Texas as individual National Champions. They were instrumental in helping gain another team national championship for Woodward Academy, making the streak now 9 consecutive years in a row.