Winning a championship is never easy and takes a lot of hard work, but Lake Cormorant High School's Cordarius Harris had more than just the competitors to deal with in winning the 53 kilogram (for 116.84 pounds) Under 19 International Powerlifting Federation world title this week in Orlando, Fla.
Nick Dowdy, who coached Harris in powerlifting at Lake Cormorant and was an assistant coach for Team USA at the world meet, said Harris dealt with much more than weights in even reaching the event as a member of Team USA, from stolen equipment to beating a hurricane.
“He had all of his stuff stolen, including a lot of equipment that was sponsored by him from Team USA. It was all stolen in Houston, Texas,” Dowdy said. “He also flew into Houston when Hurricane Harvey first hit and he almost didn’t make it out. He was in the airport for about 12 hours trying to make it out and he was in the last plane to make it out before they shut the airport down.”
Having his gear taken from him was a very significant incident as well, because powerlifters are pretty particular about what items they use when in competition.
“When he got down here, several coaches and teammates let him borrow some gear,” Dowdy said. “That’s really unheard for someone to use equipment that they’ve never worn or practiced in and then do so well. He came down here and didn’t have anything. A lesser person would probably have fallen apart, but he stayed focused and battled through it.”
Battling through the pre-meet adversity with borrowed gear, Harris went on to become the first IPF world champion from the state of Mississippi, a major feat in itself because before last year, Mississippi high school athletes were not allowed to compete outside their school’s season of competition.
“The National High School Powerlifting Championship takes place before our state championship in Mississippi,” Dowdy said. “The rule is you could not compete in an all-star or out-of-state competition during your high school season. Last year, we lobbied and it was approved for us to go. Lake Cormorant was the first team to go and compete at the High School National Championships and we finished third in the nation that year.”
Dowdy added Harris won his first national title at the meet last year, a feat he repeated this past season, which had him selected as a Team USA member for the world event.
The world competition consists of three attempts each at three different lifts, the squat, bench press and dead weight lift. The best results in each lift are then combined for a total score.
Harris finished at 195 kilograms (430 pounds) in the squat, 125 kilograms (275 pounds) in the bench press, and 207.5 kilograms (457 pounds) in the dead weight part of the competition.
Dowdy said Harris was projected as a top challenger for a gold medal going into the closely-contested competition.
“He was picked to finish in the top three but was not picked to win,” Dowdy said. “After the squat he was in third place, which was good, knowing the next two lifts are his best lifts. He was in first place after the bench press, but had fallen into second in the dead weight. He pulled the gold medal out on his last lift of the day to win it.”
There is a possibility Lake Cormorant could become home to a pair of world champions. Graduated senior Jadarius Hodge, now a freshman at Northwest Mississippi Community College, competes in his weight division on Saturday.
Bob Bakken is Sports Editor and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.