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Yoakum powerlifter reaches new Hights (video)

By Taylor Mitchell
March 20, 2013 at 8:02 p.m.
Updated March 20, 2013 at 10:21 p.m.


YOAKUM - Willie Hights won the 2012 Texas High School Powerlifting Association's Class 3A state championship on a Saturday.

The next Monday, the powerlifter for Yoakum was back in the weight room, getting stronger in preparation for the state powerlifting meet the following year.

"I was back in the weight room all week," the senior said. "Just because I got the state championship doesn't mean that somebody isn't out there working harder than me. I try to keep working harder and tell myself I'm working harder than anyone."

It is that desire that has helped make Hights one of the best powerlifters in the state. Along with winning the 3A state title last year, Hights won the strongest man title for all classifications.

"He has the desire to be the best," said Yoakum powerlifting coach Darrin Stansberry. "He has really put in a lot of work to get where he is."

Last week in Kingsville, Hights put himself in perfect position to repeat as state champion by winning the Region 5, Division II Super Heavy Weight Championship with a total lift of 1,765 pounds.

During the regional meet, Hights had a personal best on the squat rack with a lift of 800 pounds. It's enough weight on the bar that when the weight is resting on his shoulders, the bar bends at jaw-dropping angles.

"People see me squat 800 pounds, and they like it," Hights said with a smile.

Considering where Hights began his powerlifting career, squatting 800 pounds is a huge accomplishment.

"He was kind of just a raw product," Stansberry said. "He could barely squat low enough to get 135 pounds when he started. It went up quickly from there because of his hard work, though."

Along with his 800-pound squat, Hights' other personal bests are 500 pounds on the bench press and 600 pounds in the dead lift. The squat, bench and dead lift are the three lifts that go into a competitor's total score.

At the 2012 powerlifting meet, Hights' lifts totaled out to 1,875 pounds. At the regional meet last week, Hights' lift total was 1,765, which was 115 pounds more than second place.

However, Hights hasn't always been the one lifting bar-bending weights or winning state titles. In fact, when he first joined Yoakum's powerlifting team, he wasn't even the strongest person in the weight room.

"He's very competitive, so I put him with a group of guys who were strong, at the time probably our strongest kids," Stansberry said about the first year Hights was on the team. "He wanted to beat them, and that's kind of how he got started."

Hights' first year on the powerlifting team was also his first year to make it to the state meet. He would finish third at the 2011 meet, but that finish just added to his desire to be the best.

"After that, I was just getting in the weight room and telling myself, 'I'll win it next year,'" Hights said. "No matter what it took, I was going to make it next year. I just kept lifting, lifting and lifting. After the last lift at state, I was - I don't even know how to explain it."

On Saturday at the Taylor Expo Center in Abilene, Hights will go for his second straight state title and strongest man title. However, he won't enter the meet with the highest regional total. Three lifters in Div. I posted better lifts at their regional meets, but that doesn't mean much when the cold iron is in your hands.

"You never know what can happen," Hights said with a smile.

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